Is premium pet food healthier?

To answer whether or not premium pet food is worth the extra cost, we need to know what exactly makes pet food premium.

The term “premiumization” is a marketing buzzword that was first used in the alcohol industry to sell more alcohol but has since spread to health products, beauty products, human foods, and also pet foods. It’s largely a marketing gimmick used by manufacturers to tap into pet owners desire for high-quality food for their pets. Who doesn’t want to give their loved pet premium food, right? Premium pet food might be higher quality than lower cost pet foods or it might not. One thing is for sure; you’re paying extra for pet food that may or may not be affecting your pet’s health.

pet food aisle
Dog food aisle

There is no clear evidence that premium pet food is actually better for our pets. All pet foods that are labeled “complete and balanced” follow the same standards. There are no testing standards or quality certifications specifically for premium pet food. In theory, all commercial pet foods should keep your pet healthy, but not all food manufacturers have the same quality control, processing techniques, ingredients, attention to nutritional detail, etc.

A 2007 study by the California Institute of Technology and Stanford University demonstrated that a higher priced product can alter our brain into thinking the product is actually a higher quality based on the price alone. They did this by putting the same exact wine into two different glasses and telling participants that one was more expensive than the other. What they found out was people thought the more expensive wine tasted better. MRI brain scans confirmed this as well. Pet food manufacturers know we are wired in this way and use it to their advantage.

One thing I would suggest is to understand how to read pet food labels. Pet food manufacturers can use every trick in the book to make their products appear to better quality than they actually are.

Words like “holistic” and “natural” are not tightly regulated, if at all, meaning pet food manufacturers are free to use them in any way they see fit.

Most of the differences between the lower and higher priced pet foods are based on emotion and not nutrition or scientific evidence. Most premium pet food brands simply follow current cultural trends and advertise these trendy buzzwords on their packaging. Can you say gluten-free pet food?

Smoked salmon, caviar, and spinach might look good on a food label but these higher priced ingredients are usually present in such small qualities (learn how to read food labels) that it won’t make a difference. The manufacturer’s goal of using these ingredients more often than not isn’t to make your pet food healthier; it’s to increase their profits. I’m all for a company making as much money as possible but you need to be aware of the game being played so you can make wise purchasing decisions for your pet.

Therefore, I suggest spending more time researching the company behind the pet food, seeing if they have independent food quality certifications, reading through pet food recalls, etc. If your pet looks and acts normal, then things are probably okay. Just remember, if a salesman can get you to spend $10 on something when you were planning on spending $9, they will find a way. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t spend $10, but it’s best to have a clue what you are actually spending your money on.

This is the information I found while researching this topic. Please consult your veterinarian if you have questions or concerns about your pet’s health.

INTERESTING TRIVIA
  1. Chocolate is toxic to dogs and should never be given to them.
  2. Meat meal, labeled on pet food ingredient labels such as “chicken meal” and “beef meal,” can include materials such as grease, blood, feathers, and entire carcasses.
  3. Dogs should never be given bones. Bones can break and sliver and can puncture your dog’s intestinal tract or cause them to choke.
INTERESTING VIDEO

INTERESTING SOURCES
  1. Tufts University – Premium pet foods – are they worth the premium price?
  2. New York Times – The Truth About Cat and Dog Food
  3. Pop Sugar – 12 Facts You Never Knew About Pet Food

Leave a Reply

1 Comment On "Is premium pet food healthier?"

avatar
  Subscribe  
Newest Oldest Most voted
Notify of
Kate
Guest

That’s cool. I thought it was better, but maybe not.