The cost of a dog food can be a deciding factor as to whether or not to buy it, but it’s hard to compare different types of foods. After all, the cost of a 10 pound bag of dry food is not necessarily comparable to the cost of 10 pounds of canned or 10 pounds of raw because dog don’t necessary need the same weight of each type.
So how can we compare based on price?
Estimate Cost Using a Dog Food Label
Most commercial dog foods provide a feeding suggestion on their package. Use it to estimate how much the food costs per day:
A = The number of cups per day needed by your dog (get from the label).
B = The number of cups in a package divided by A.
C = The total cost of the package divided by B.
C will be the daily cost of that food.
Estimate Cost Using Calories
To estimate cost using calories (if calories of a food are known), you need to know:
- How many calories your dog needs.
- How many calories are in the food you’re interested in.
- The cost of the food.
First, Calculate Calories
If you are unsure if your dog is the right weight, ask your vet and/or follow this wikiHow guide (read wikiHow.) If your dog is overweight you’ll need to take that into account when estimating calories.
Here are two good tools for estimating caloric needs:
Slim Doggy Track
Slim Doggy’s Calorie Tracker tool (click here for Tracker) requires you register to make use of the tool, but it’s free. And you can use their Tracker to track calories on a daily basis.
Dog Food Advisor Calculator
Dog Food Advisor’s Calculator (click here for Calculator) is also free and requires no registration.
Second, Estimate Food Costs
You can use the formula below whether you are using a commercial dog food or homemade. Homemade will be tricky to estimate ahead of time, but try to plan a list of foods needed to feed for a certain number of days. Substitute the word “Package” below for the total volume of food (e.g. list of ingredients).
A = Daily Food Weight: Amount of food (by weight) needed per day to reach caloric goals.
B = Days per Package: Divide total package weight by A.
C = Cost per Day: Divide cost of the package cost by B.
C will be the daily cost of that food.
Below is a cost comparison for feeding Zack our old kibble vs dehydrated food we recently switched to.
|A: Daily Weight||Weight of Package||B: Days per Package||Cost of Package||C: Daily Cost||Monthly Cost|
|Kibble||.7 lbs||20 lbs||28.6||$40||$1.40||$42.00|
|Dehydrated||.63 lbs||10 lbs||15.9||$66||$4.15||$124.50|
Second-Hand Cost Comparison
That Mutt dog blog offers a cost comparison. Written in 2011, it compares several dog food types (commercial raw, homemade raw, natural dry, standard dry) (read That Mutt.)
How Do I Know If I’m Dating Good Food?
Once we’ve picked a dog food … how do we know it’s working ok?
- Good Poop
- Consistently Good Energy Levels
- Healthy Skin, Eyes, Ears and Digestion (e.g. no allergies)
If you’re a dog lover, you know the value of good dog poop. A nicely formed poop suggests health!
If you want details on identifying good poop, this is the article for you (read this Huffington Post.)
For a visual guide, check this out: (the Bristol Stool Scale.)
Good Energy Levels
Keep on the look out for changes in energy level. Take into account other factors besides food changes (drugs, weather, activity levels.)
Absence of Allergies
If skin, ears, nose, eyes, and digestive tracks appear good, I think we’re good to go.
My Date Choices
I fed a decent (local boutique) kibble for the last 8 years. A couple months ago Zoe refused to eat it. I offered her a dehydrated food sample from The Honest Kitchen that I received as a delegate at BlogPaws2014. Zoe gobbled it up. That’s when I started dog food researching and decided to stick with The Honest Kitchen for now. While I monogamously date The Honest Kitchen products, I will start exploring “raw”.
Kimberly at Keep the Tail Wagging writes excellent articles about dog food and going raw. I find Kimberly’s blog pleasant, non-preachy and full of good information. I plan to use her blog site as a resource while I look into the raw food diet.
If you change dog foods, consider making the change gradually. This is what I do and have had no problems:
- First 2 days: 75% old food, 25% new.
- Next 2 days: 50% – 50% each.
- Next 2 days: 25% old, 75% new.
- Finally, switch completely to the new food.
Some people add (extra) enzymes during food transitions.
Dogs may gain or lose weight after switching to a new food. If they do, adjust how much you feed them. The recommended amount on any package is only a guideline.
Read More in this Series
Part 1 proposed a plan to find the “perfect” dog food.
Part 2 recognizes that dog food choices are personal (like dating).
Part 3 outlines basic nutritional requirements for dogs.
Part 4 discusses driving forces behind dog food decision making.
Part 5 helps us narrow down our dog food choices by being picky about ingredients.
This, Part 6, discusses cost estimates and success factors. It is the final entry in this series.