Sunday, April 22, 2018
Pets

A look at how to cut kibble costs

Consumer Reports says that Americans spend $20 billion on cat and dog food annually, making it the biggest, most predictable expense during your pet's life. The cost adds up quickly, and yet many people don't factor in how pricey it will be, particularly if you choose to feed Fido a gourmet brand.

According to a 2011 Consumer Reports study, dog food can average $36 a month. It is the biggest ongoing cost of owning a dog. But you can save money on this expense if you're using coupons, buying in bulk and, most important, buying less-expensive food.

We looked at some tips for shopping and did our own price comparison.

Know what you're paying for: What separates premium dog food from regular, everyday nutritious food? While we didn't evaluate nutritional value of food for this column, it's important to note that Consumer Reports says that there's no legal definition for "premium" blends or strict requirements for nutritional quality. Although some pets have special needs and require certain food, most pets are fine with a blend that says "complete & balanced" or meets the minimum requirements of the Association of American Feed Control Officials. If you're on a budget, ask your vet about less-expensive varieties. Always consult your vet when choosing your dog's food.

Prices vary dramatically: Even when types of dog food don't necessarily vary in nutritional content — although they may vary in flavor — there's a wide range of prices among those that meet the minimum health requirements. According to Consumer Reports, Ol' Roy sells for 34 cents a pound at Walmart. At the other extreme, Purina Chef Michael's Rotisserie Chicken flavor sells at PetSmart for $2.22 a pound — 6 1/2 times more expensive than Ol' Roy.

Before you adopt: Pet food is an ongoing expense that you're likely to have for a decade. Dogs are creatures of habit, eating what they've eaten before, so the foods you buy early in your dog's life matter. So start your dog on store brands or moderately priced varieties. If you start her on the premium brands, she's not going to willingly switch to lesser varieties.

Buy from big-box stores: Consumer Reports sent secret shoppers to 21 retailers and found that Target and Walmart often have the lowest prices on dog food, while supermarkets and specialty pet stores — including such retailers as Petco and PetSmart — tend to have higher prices. Also, Costco and other warehouse clubs tend to have great deals on dog food.

Don't shop online: Consumer Reports determined that prices online were much higher. Its 2011 study found that online sites were 50 percent higher, before shipping costs. Skip the convenience of online shopping and just pick up the 50-pound bag yourself.

Comments
Hernando Pet of the Week for April 27

Hernando Pet of the Week for April 27

Humane Society of the Nature CoastXena is a sweet 6-year-old calitabby (calico and tabby mix). She has been spayed, microchipped and is current on her vaccines. Inquiries about adopting April or other dogs and cats can be made at the Humane Society o...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Find A Friend: Levi, the Dog

Find A Friend: Levi, the Dog

If big hearts score points, then you could say that Levi’s got game. But only in the sweetest, least competitive and non-confrontational way possible. Sports might teach life lessons to humans, but Levi plays ball to forget the horrors of a not too-d...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Construction begins on Saladino Dog Park in Brandon next week

Construction begins on Saladino Dog Park in Brandon next week

BRANDON — Hillsborough County will be starting construction next week on new amenities to Bertha and Tony Saladino Park, including a dog park.The county will start construction on a dog park, walking trail and expanded parking lot on Wednesday.The pa...
Published: 04/13/18
Hernando Pet of the Week for April 20

Hernando Pet of the Week for April 20

Courtesy of Hernando County Animal ServicesLouise is a 3-year-old black female terrier mix. She came into the shelter as a stray. Louise loves people and playing outside. She is a selective dog, so a "meet and greet" will be required, and she needs t...
Published: 04/12/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Find A Friend: Gracie, the cat

Find A Friend: Gracie, the cat

Never judge a book by its cover, because Gracie is no ordinary pussycat. She’s a kitty with charisma, an atypical tigress, a pal of a pet. She’s chatty and playful and likes to roll around with her belly up in the air just to gain attention. She’s re...
Published: 04/09/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Hernando Pet of the Week for April 13

Hernando Pet of the Week for April 13

Humane Society of the Nature CoastDakota is a gorgeous 5-year-old hound. She participates in the Tails 2 Trails walking group at 9 a.m. every Sunday on the Suncoast Trail. Inquiries about adopting Dakota or other dogs and cats can be made at the Huma...
Published: 04/09/18
Updated: 04/11/18
Find A Friend: Bunny, the Boxer mix

Find A Friend: Bunny, the Boxer mix

Wait...what? She missed the deadline for the hippity-hop holiday edition of the paper? Ah well, Bunny has learned to take disappointment in stride. After all, she almost had a real home until the landlord said he didn’t want "her kind." But spring br...
Published: 04/06/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Hernando Pet of the Week for April 6

Hernando County Animal ServicesLeroy is a handsome white and black, 2-year-old rat terrier mix. He is enrolled in the Heal to Heal program at the Hernando County Women’s Correctional Facility, where he works with the trustees and trainer John Gore fr...
Updated one month ago
For military veterans suffering from PTSD, are service dogs good therapy?

For military veterans suffering from PTSD, are service dogs good therapy?

JACKSONVILLE BEACH — Adam Fuller credits a simple, one-word command — and a black Lab mix named J.D. — for helping to save his life. "Cover," he tells J.D., who is sitting to his left in a grassy field next to a park playground. The dog calmly walks ...
Updated one month ago