Nov 20 2013

Safe Pet Food in Guelph – Part III

Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees (and neither does Fluffy’s Food)!

One of the largest barriers veterinarians hear when it comes to pet food is cost. So, let’s take an honest look at the cost of pet foods. We’ll let the numbers do the talking!

First up, dog food! You’ll notice both Veterinary Prescription Diets as well as some of the most popular foods currently on the market in the left-hand column. On the right are average costs of feeding a 5kg, 20kg, and 35kg dog daily and monthly.

Things to note:

  1. We’ve made a couple of assumptions here.  Feeding amounts are based on the often broad range suggested by the manufacturer.  We’ve stuck with mid-range!
  2. Prices were taken from a large-scale Canadian pet-food company for everything except the Prescription Diets, for which clinic prices were used (as they are only available through a veterinarian).
  3. The blue values indicate similar price ranges amongst various foods.
  4. We chose ‘Hills’ to represent Prescription Diets, but note there are others like Medi-cal by Royal Canin that in some pets may be suitable and advised by your veterinarian.
Food (dry)

Small Dog (5kg)

Medium Dog (20kg)

Large Dog (35kg)

Cost/Day Cost/Month Cost/Day Cost/Month Cost/Day Cost/Month
Purina® Beneful® brand Dog Food Original with Chicken 0.41 13.00 1.00 32.00 1.00 41.00
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Duck Recipe for Dogs 1.20 37.00 2.20 65.00 2.80 84.00
Hill’s Science Diet Oral Care 0.90 28.00 2.60 72.00 2.70 80.30
Wellness Core Grain Free Ocean Recipe Dog Food 0.65 20.00 2.20 65.00 2.70 81.00
Orijen Adult Fish 0.80 24.00 2.40 71.00 2.50 74.00
Hill’s Prescription Diet J/D (Joint and Mobility) 0.81 24.00 2.30 70.00 3.50 104.00
Hill’s Prescription Diet T/D 0.68 21.00 2.00 62.00 2.90 86.00
Hill’s Prescription Diet d/d Canine Skin Support Potato & Venison 0.78 23.00 2.10 62.00 2.40 73.00
Hill’s Metabolic Advanced Weight Loss Solutions (weight loss amounts) 0.67 20.00 1.70 50.00 2.20 66.00

Let’s do the same for cats!  This table is based on the largest bag available for the diet, and an ‘average’ 10lb/4.5kg cat.

Foods (dry) 10lb/4.5kg        cat  
Cost/Day Cost/Month
Wellness Complete Health Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal & Rice Recipe



Dry Pro Plan Cat Indoor Salmon & Rice



Science Diet Adult Indoor Cat



Hill’s Prescription Diet J/D (Joint and Mobility)



Hill’s Prescription Diet T/D



Hill’s Prescription Diet d/d Canine Skin Support Potato & Venison



Hill’s Metabolic (at weight loss amounts)



Surprised by the numbers?

In some instances, Veterinary Therapeutic Diets (Prescription Diets), like Hill’s J/D Joint and Mobility are indeed more expensive than the ‘average’ pet-food. As veterinarians, it is our job to help you the consumer understand why. For instance, we know that part of the cost is due to the extensive research behind this therapeutic diet. It can take many years to develop and perform clinical trials to prove the therapeutic benefits of a diet.  It is more valuable to see scientific support for a claim the company is making about their product, than just taking a manufacturer’s word for it through their advertising. For J/D in particular, the cost is also in part due to the very high levels of omega-3 fatty acids it contains for the treatment of arthritis. Therapeutic levels of ingredients like this are very costly to add, but they are necessary to gain the benefits that this food can provide. Other diets may also boast omega-3 fatty acids on their bag, but no other pet food to date has levels as high as Hill’s J/D. It is these high omega-3 fatty acids that have scientifically shown to reduce the inflammation associated with arthritic pain. That $20 per month difference can be worth it in a pet that has the daily pain and mobility issues associated with arthritis.

Other exceptional maintenance diets, like Hill’s Prescription Diet T/D for Oral Health, are on par with popular brands such as Blue Buffalo and Orijen. Since dental disease is the most common disease occurring in both cats and dogs, then having a nutritious lifestage diet with dental prevention can benefit a pet’s overall health. Generic, grocery-store brands were not included in our comparison, however obviously these are options as well and tend to be low-cost.

cat eating


So what is the take-home message?

  1. Pet-food is expensive, and it is worth taking the time to research the pet food you are purchasing! Does it perform as it claims? Is it from a reputable company that engages in quality control? Is it safe? Is it appropriate for your pet? Hint: Your veterinarian is your best resource for this!
  2. When you discuss nutrition recommendations with your vet, they may suggest a company who manufactures a Veterinary Prescription Diet. This is likely due to the quality assurance of such diets. Given the above information, we encourage you to pause before allowing yourself to worry about cost.  Cost probably shouldn’t be the first thing we consider when choosing optimal nutrition for a pet anyways, so take the time to review all the facts. If cost for the ‘ideal diet’ is still prohibitive, be honest. Your veterinarian likely has a ‘plan b’ suggestion!

Meanwhile, don’t just take it from us!  Her is an interesting piece on how to choose a pet-food from some veterinary nutritional specialists : Nutritionists Offer Up Pet Food Talking Points for Vets

Look forward to another instalment next month!  And if you’ve found this helpful, please SHARE it with fellow pet owners.

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