Pet Food - isn’t it all the same stuff ?

 Pet Food - isn’t it all the same stuff ?

 The Short answer is ….No !

We all know that  “we are what we eat” and diet is the biggest influence on their health just as it is on ours. We will discuss Budget vs Premium Pet Food.


Dogs & Cats are our best friends. They quickly become our fur-family and these days we fork out quite a bit of coin for the privilege. They benefit our lives in unmeasurable ways and taking care of them is important.

So, while the topic of nutrition is a deep one, here are just a few surface points to look for to help you choose the diet that’s right your pet. Because dry food is a large portion of petfood fed today, I will just concentrate on this for now.

Pet Food is basically broken down into groups of quality. Budget, Premium and new Super Premium.

While some of you may have heard of AAFCO standards, there are really no regulations in what determines the differences within these groupings. AAFCO standards are wide & do not measure the vast scale of premium quality, just sets a basic minimum standard for approval. Small scale manufacturers might not afford the cost to apply or are not exporting to the USA & may not require it.

So what are the main differences? Firstly price does not always reflect quality & listed protein levels & fats etc do not always either. It is best to look at the ingredients first and then compare the guarenteed analysis for the 'fine tuning' of the specific needs of your pet.

Budget Foods

To keep manufacturing costs down, highly processed and low cost ingredients are selected. The more expensive ingredients are minimised & low cost ingredients are maximised. Artificial colouring is often added & synthetic preservatives are used to lengthen the shelf life.


This does not bode well for your pets digestive system as those low cost ingredients are often high in cereals/ rice or potato which are moisture absorbing which can cause bloating, inflammation, digestive blockages & allergies.  The meat content is usually low quality bi-products, unspecified meat meal or some imported products are produced using rendered meats. The protein portion may even have meat bone meal added.

Feed rates will be higher due to the limited nutrient uptake.

Premium Foods

This can be a bit of a grey area, but in premium there will usually be no animal bi-products, meat  bone meal and ultimately better in terms of quality ingredients.

You should expect to find a specified Meat Meal eg: Poultry Meal & sometimes more exotic meats within the first few ingredients. The quality of the grains are improved by eliminating wheat & barley but you may still find corn/maize, soy and potato included. Some entry level grain- free pet foods start in this group often using potato and peas. We may start to see fruits, vegetables or berries added to improve fibre & health benefits. They tend not to use artificial colours.

When feeding these foods you should see improvement in in skin & coat, digestion, energy, strong bones, muscle development and overall improvement in wellbeing.

Feed rates will be lower than budget foods due the increase in the uptake of nutrients and you should see less poo on the lawn.


Super Premium Foods

Over the last 10 years we have started to see this next group of foods on NZ pet store shelves.

Often made using more exotic meat protein sources these are often used to assist with allergies or other health disorders.


You should expect to find specified meat meals eg: Chicken meal or Duck Meal rather than a generalised poultry meal on label listings. The selected meat products are across the whole of the first few ingredients. The quality of the meal may be human grade, free range farmed or grass fed for example. You may find formulations combining multiple meat proteins such as Chicken, Duck and Turkey.

You will find Grains, including rice, are excluded and potato is limited or excluded. In their place are higher quality legumes, Fruits and vegetables to improve digestion & well-being and spices & herbs to assist in inflammation & support the immune system. They tend not to use synthetic preservatives, artificial colours and flavours.

When feeding these foods you should see even more improvement in skin & coat, digestion, muscle development, immune health, energy & overall wellbeing.

Feed rates tend to be lower than both budget & most premium foods due to being even more nutrient rich. In a lot of cases they are a whopping 90% digestable, meaning that they are getting more from their food & there is less waste being produced on the lawn.

So, weighing it up?

Premium & super premium foods do generally cost a bit more than budget foods, although it is worth doing the math on cost factoring feed rates as they are always lower. Often premium/ super premium work out to be similarly priced overall.

Either way you will know that your pet is being fed better and you will be providing the greatest chance of your loyal friend living a healthier longer life with less possibility of disease resulting in lower vet bills overall.

For more info pop into one of our stores to discuss which diet may be best for your pet.

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