Ask LH: Is Expensive Pet Food Worth It?

Hey Lifehacker, Expensive dog food (such as Hills Science Diet) is at least twice the price of supermarket brands. Is it worth the cost? I’d ask my dogs but I’m sure they’d lay a guilt trip on me and tell me I should pay the extra to prove I love them. Thanks, Doggy Dilemma

Dog food picture from Shutterstock

Dear DD,

Domestic dogs are omnivorous mammals that require a balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water to stay healthy. Some cheap dog foods do not provide sufficient nutrition and may require you to supplement their diet with additional foods. Look for brands that contain high levels of proteins, E and C vitamins and natural vegetables in the ingredients list. This actually isn’t too difficult and you certainly don’t have to fork out for the top-tier stuff.

Some fancy ‘gourmet’ brands imply that their food tastes better in a bid to justify the higher premium. But this is just clever marketing: the vast majority of dogs are not fussy eaters and will happily gobble up anything you throw at them. Biologically, dogs have a far less sophisticated palate than humans, with around 80 per cent fewer taste buds. In other words, carefully seasoned meals and expensive cuts of meat are largely wasted on them.

Now, an argument could be made that dog’s derive culinary pleasure from their advanced sense of smell which could conceivably make them prefer premium brands. But honestly, how long does your dog spend inhaling his food before he starts tucking in? Most dogs just take a few cursory sniffs to make sure it’s edible. And I’ve never seen a dog stop halfway through a meal to take an appreciative whiff. So I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over the dog food brand you buy. As long as it has ‘Complete Nutrition’ on the label it should be all your dog needs to live a long and happy life.

We’d also like to hear from our dog loving readers on this one. What do you feed your ‘best friend’? Do you mix it up with different brands and flavours or stick to the same product? Lets us know in the comments section below.


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