Are Premium Pet Foods Worth The Extra Money?

Is your premium pet food worth the extra money?  Two scientists have teamed up to investigate the pet food industry and the claims made for their products. Marion Nestle from the Paulette Goddard professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University and Malden C. Nesheim emeritus professor of nutrition at Cornell University have published their findings in their book, “Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat.”

Dr. Nestle and Dr. Nesheim compared 10 premium chicken dinners for dogs and found the ingredients to all be very similar.  The ingredients all started with chicken or chicken broth followed by grains and vegetables; however the nonpremium brands often used more grains, poultry, meat and fish byproducts.  Dr. Nestle stated “All pet foods are made from the byproducts of human food production.  No matter what the package says, your dog is not getting whole chicken breasts, but what remains after the breasts have been removed for human food.”

Drs. Nestle and Nesheim suggested seeking out labels that state “complete and balanced” because this indicates that the pet food meets the nutritional requirements of cats and dogs as listed by the Association of American Feed Control Officials.  State officials and the animal feed industry along with the FDA and AAFCO develop model regulations for pet foods which are voluntary unless covered under state laws.  As of now no agency requires proof of pet food health claims.  According to Drs. Nestle and Nesheim pet food companies say they do extensive research on their pet foods but often it is not conducted in a scientific fashion with comparable control and experimental groups. The doctors suggest getting your pet’s food from a reputable vendor such as  Both Doctors did recommend that if one brand does seem to affect your pet in a positive way you should stick with it.

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