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15/06/2016, 17:00

Buying expensive pet food is pointless

Dog owners could be barking up the wrong tree by splashing out on expensive pet food (file photo)

Dog owners could be barking up the wrong tree by splashing out on top-of-the-range pet food.

The most expensive brands are not necessarily more nutritious, consumer watchdogs say.

In fact dog owners could save £210 a year on pet food without compromising on quality.

Researchers at Which? came up with the advice after comparing expensive pet foods to standard versions on supermarket shelves.

A complete pet food should provide all the nutrients your dog – or cat – needs to thrive. Treating them to premium versions could be a waste of money – and make no difference to their health.

With hundreds of pet foods available in supermarkets, researchers from Which? set out to discover whether premium brands offer anything more than standard versions.

They also wanted to know how much it really costs to feed pets with different brands over a year.

Which? said: ‘Our results show that savvy shoppers can make savings when shopping for pet food without scrimping on the key nutrients that dogs and cats need. 

If you have a small labrador and feed him exclusively on standard Butcher’s dog food, you’ll be spending just under £640 a year.

‘Buy Butcher’s Superior and you’ll be shelling out £850. But the extra £210 doesn’t necessarily give your dog anything extra for your money.

‘Both tins of food provide almost exactly the same level of nutrition – and the Butcher’s Superior tin even contains a little less meat and a little less protein than its cheaper counterpart.’

Butcher’s said every dog is different and its range of products means a bigger choice of recipes. When Which? assessed cheaper and more expensive ranges from other top cat and dog food brands, it found a similar pattern.

The watchdog said: ‘Vets told us that most pet foods labelled “complete” or “complete and balanced” have to meet strict regulations that ensure your pet gets the nutrients it needs. 

'Some pet foods are marked “complementary”, meaning they should be given to your pet alongside a complete food.

‘Pet food that says it is “with chicken” must contain at least 4 per cent chicken but a “chicken flavoured” product doesn’t have to contain any. 

'But while proteins from meat can be better used in the body once it’s been digested, a mixture of plant and meat protein is important in a diet.

‘The most important thing is that your cat or dog is healthy.

‘Signs that your pet is getting good nutrition include clear and bright eyes, a shiny and dandruff-free coat, plenty of enthusiasm for life and a lack of excess body fat. You should be able to feel their ribs and see their waist.’

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