(WZZM) - How much do you pay for your dog food? If you pay too little, your dog might not be getting the proper nutrients. But if you pay a lot more, you might be wasting your money on a bunch of fancy words that don't help your dog.
We took a look around the pet store and found prices for a 44-pound bag of food can vary from $17 all the way up to $72. Veterinarian Karyl Ropko of the Northeast Cat and Dog Hospital says you should pay a lot more attention to the ingredients and less attention to the labels.
She says the first ingredient for an adult dog should be a specific type of meat, like "Chicken" or "Beef", not vague words like "Meat" or "Animal", nor anything followed by the words "By-product meal".
"'Chicken by-product meal' is a dry-rendered product of slaughter house waste. So that's made with what's left-over from the chicken after all the good stuff has been used," said Dr. Ropko.
There are other words that Dr. Ropko says to avoid, because all that means is that you'll pay too much. "Remember 'holistic' means nothing, 'premium' and 'super premium' doesn't mean anything."
That's not to say all words on the packaging are un-important.
"If it says 'organic', it needs to be organic due to FDA standards and 'natural' means your product is going to be a little more natural with a little less additives in there."
"Easy to Digest" is also important according to Dr. Ropko. "Buying that higher quality food, higher digestibility, your dog will digest that food and won't have as much stool. It will assume more of those nutrients, so that means you actually pay less for that food. Your dog eats less food and there's less for you to pick-up in the yard. If you have non-digestible fiber, that means your pet is eating a certain amount of food, but a high percentage of it is coming out in the stool."
Obviously no company will tell you that its food is difficult to digest, so Dr. Ropko says look out for ingredients like "Meat and Bone Meal" and "Gluten". Foods with good digestibility often contain 'Beet Pulp Fiber'.
By Derek Francis