Monday, October 25, 2010

Easiest Way to Save Money on Pet Food

Photo courtesy of Tripp

The easiest way to save money on pet food?

Don't overfeed your pets.

Okay, I understand this may seem like common sense to all you dedicated, responsible pet owners out there but the reality is many of us overfeed our pets without even realizing we are doing it. Sometimes, it's truly hard to know exactly how much food to feed pets in the first place.

Some things to take into consideration...

  • Pet food companies use a standard 8 oz dry measuring cup when they calculate and report how many calories are in each cup of pet food. The best way to measure pet food is in an 8 oz dry measuring cup that has been marked off for measuring purposes. Ask your veterinarian if they have any of these handy, sometimes the pet food companies send them with food orders and they are free for the taking. (Yet another way to save some money at the vet..hit 'em up for a free measuring cup!)

An example of a measuring cup made by IAMS

  • Feeding recommendations on pet food labels do not take into consideration your individual pet. We can estimate that a large breed dog is somewhere around, say, 60 lbs, but maybe your large breed dog really has an ideal body weight of 50 lbs. See where I am going with this? This means that you will have to objectively look at your pet and decide what their ideal body weight is. Veterinarians do this by assigning a body condition score to your pet. You can learn more about body condition scoring here. When in doubt, ask the doctor or the technician (studies have actually discovered that veterinary technicians are the most accurate when assigning a body condition score).

  • Once you have established your pet's ideal weight it's time to calculate their resting energy potential, which is just a fancy way of saying how many calories they need to consume every day. This amount is for the ideal body weight of an ADULT animal.

Uh oh..MATH! I hate it too. It's okay, we can get through this together, I'm even going to show you an example of how I calculate this for one of my dogs.

Without further ado, the calculation is: 30(Body weight in Kgs) + 70
(1 lb = 2.2 Kgs)

So, if my dog Reagan weighs 15 lbs at his ideal weight:

15/2.2= 6.8 Kgs
30(6.8) + 70= 274

He needs 274 calories in one day. Here's where you have to do some research. Most pet food companies post the calories in one cup of food on their websites. If not, a quick call to customer service should get you that information.

A k/cal is the same thing as a calorie for the purpose of this post.

That's the calorie content for Reagan's food. I divide 274/379.3= .72. So, he should be getting about 3/4 of cup of food per day. TOTAL. 

At one point, I was feeding 1 cup of food per day. Now, I feed him the appropriate amount of food and my dog food lasts that much longer. 

Obese pets are prone to long term health problems, from diabetes to degenerative joint disease. You will also save yourself money on medications and vet visits. 

Confused? All that math can be a little tricky. If you have any questions or just need some help finding nutritional information for your pet's food, feel free to contact me for guidance!

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