Getting Pet food from Supermarket or Specialist Pet Store?

Myth: Low-cost pet foods are just as good as premium brands.

When feeding our furkids, we always want the best for them by feeding them suitable dog foods which serves them the right nutrients from the right ingredients. Often, we tend to compare products by looking at the information provided at the back of the packet. Or if you are to shop online instead such as WaggyMeal.com, most of the products are provided with a detailed description of their ingredients, guaranteed analysis including nutrition, additional information and feeding guide for our furkids.

 

While these products are completed with its respectful information, we discuss whether we should feed our furkids with food from the local supermarket or from pet stores.

Generally, products from both local stores and pet stores are able to fulfill our furkid’s basic nutritional needs. But it is the quality of the respective products that counts, which mostly depends on the ingredients or composition itself. Usually, ingredients listed first or second on the list are the ones composing most of the product. 

It is also perceived that meat-based products are superior to a corn-based product. For example, if meat products such as lamb or chicken are listed as the first few ingredients on the list, the product is probably meat-based and will be considered of high quality. Dog Food Advisor explains that the protein found in meat is unique as it naturally contains all ten essential amino acids which is vital for our furkids. Moreover, meat-based protein is easier for digestion. Whereas if it is cereal by-product, corn or brewers yeast instead, chances are the quality of the product is inferior to those that are meat-based.  

Here are the general characteristics showing the differences between products from the supermarket and pet stores:

Ingredients

Supermarket Brand

Specialist Pet Store

Meat Content

Low

High

Artificial Colouring & Flavoring

High

Low

Preservatives

High

Low

From the table above, we can say that the quality of products from supermarket are not as ideal as the ones from pet stores due to the lower amount of meat content and higher amount of artificial colouring and flavourings, not to forget preservatives.

How true is that?

Let’s compare the EVO (premium brand) and brand X (Supermarket brand) brands, and we will be able to see a vast difference in terms of their products’ ingredients.

EVO ingredient list   

extract from EVO’s red meat dry dog food

VS

 

extract from brand X large breed nutrition

To create a non-biased review, we did a review research on Dog Food Advisor, a public service website designed to help or provide informed decision when buying dog food. Going back to our EVO and brand X example:

Let us have a look at the EVO Turkey and Chicken Formula Large Bite.

EVO analysis

 

We can see that meat ingredient are the top of EVO’s list, showing it is a meat-based product. Although they are quality items, these raw poultry consist 80% water, which will face moisture lost after cooking, causing the meat content to be just a fraction of the original weight. Other than that, ingredients such as peas and tapioca starch are acceptable for our furkid’s diet as the former is a quality source of carbohydrates besides being rich in natural fibre while the latter is a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant. Hence overall, this product is recommended with a 5-star rating from the site.

Click here to read the complete detail of the product

As for the brand X

Looking at the ingredients, we can say that brand X is a plant-based kibble using a modest amount of poultry by-product and we can see that meat and bone meals serve as the main source of calcium.

To start off,

-corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain which serves a modest nutritional    value to dogs.
-poultry by-product’ meal  is a dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It is  considered low quality even though is a meat concentrated product which contains  higher protein percentage than fresh poultry.
-‘meat and bone meal’ lowers digestibility compared to other meat meals which scientists  believe that this is due to the higher ash and lower essential amino acid content. To  make it worse, there is no specific indication of which animal made up this ingredient- it  can possibly be made up of spoiled meat, diseased carcasses or dying live stocks.

Hence, this product is overall less recommended by the Dog Food Advisor as it only scored a 1-star rating.

Click here to get the full details of this product

  1. Nutrition Content

Just like us humans, our furkids require a balanced nutrition diet to provide them energy and for the cells to build and repair. Otherwise, they are deemed to have disorders such as developmental and growth disorder, obesity or underweight and infections.

In contrast to supermarket brands, premium branded pet foods are:

-scientifically formulated to provide the right balance of nutrients such as fibre, protein,  fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins
-higher in protein content
-higher quality of raw ingredients

    Whereas, supermarket brands usually contains higher fat and sugar content which makes it more palatable for our furkids. Tastier, but less healthy. We as pet lovers certainly do not want to make sending our furkids to the vet as a compulsory routine and a regular thing to do.

    1. Ingredients ≠ Nutrients

    To clarify, ingredients are specific components that make up the food our furkids consume. Nutrients on the other hand, are derived from the ingredients metabolised by our furkid’s body. Nutrients are vital for bodily functions that support life depending on the types of nutrients itself. For example, when beef is metabolised, protein and fats are the nutrients derived from the beef.

    Other aspects to look into:

    1. Allergies

    We certainly want to avoid feeding our furkids ingredients that are prone to cause allergies and digestive reactions. Technically, food allergies occur when our furkid’s immune system mistakenly identifies a particular food ingredient as harmful, creating a defensive antibody to fight the ‘invading enemy’. When our furkid faces food allergy, they shows signs of skin rashes, itching or paw biting. As discussed above, one of the downside of supermarket brands is that it contains wheat, cereal, corn and meat by-products. Besides, consumers are also warned of unspecified ‘meat’ product listed on the labels as these ‘meat’ can be anything such as unwanted leftovers from slaughtered animals 

    However, we must understand that these allergies are related to our furkid’s immune system instead of the product itself. Thus, if he is allergic to a particular ingredient, he is likely to face the same unfavorable reaction regardless of what brand you feed him with the particular ingredient. Otherwise, perhaps it’s the contaminated food that causes his unfavorable reaction You may want to consider feeding him grain-free products to be on the safe side as they help dogs with sensitive stomach that have difficulties digesting high grain content.

    Pricing 

      One of the most common reasons why pet owners purchase supermarket brands is that it’s cheaper and easily obtained. But the reason why supermarket brands can be less expensive is due to the filler-contents such as corn bran, oat hull, cereal by-products, feathers, and the list goes on.

      In contrast, premium dog food is pricier and are usually only available in pet stores or online. But as the saying goes, “you pay for what you get”. When feeding our furkids with premium meat- based pet food, a smaller intake is required for our furkid’s demand for energy. Likewise, plant-based commercial pet food (for example brand X) is fed more in order to meet the energy demand.

      Whilst the analysis shows that the EVO brand is the better quality product, we believe that the choice still lies in your hands,that is whether to feed your furkids with supermarket brands or premium brands from specialist pet stores.

      If you ever have any issues with pet food products, you can visit the Dog Food Advisor site as they offer helpful reviews and advises based on brands as well as providing you with useful information based on your search.