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Do you spoil your dog or cat?

Spoilt dog

Is it actually worth spending extra cash on premium pet food? Or is money no object when it comes to feeding your canine or feline pals?

Pets are supposed to be a part of the family – and god knows they can sometimes cost as much as having a child.

You watch them grow up, enjoying their boundless enthusiasm when they’re playful and keeping a worried eye on them when they’re unwell. You share their pictures on Facebook and they get a special mention in the Christmas round-robin.

But the costs of pet care can run into the thousands over their lifetime – insurance, vet checks, pet passports, grooming, and of course, food. And unlike children, there isn’t the prospect that they’ll be looking after you in your dotage.

All Which? members, I’m sure, are out exploring supermarkets for great deals on food, buying the great value Best Buys our taste tests have uncovered. But by the time we reach the pet food aisle, we’re tempted to throw in a tin of extra-premium, super meaty, specially-textured, well-it-must-be-good-for-them pet food (in jelly) – just so they know we love them.

So we set out to find out whether the fancy stuff is actually any better for your dog or cat.

Costly chow

If you have a small Labrador and feed him exclusively on standard Butcher’s dog food, you’ll be spending just under £640 a year. But buy Butcher’s Superior and you’ll be shelling out £850. So what does this extra £210 a year get you, exactly?

According to the animal nutritionist who worked with us on the pet food investigation in the June issue of Which? magazine – not an awful lot. She told us they provide almost exactly the same level of nutrition – and actually, the Butcher’s Superior tin will contain a little less meat and a little less protein than its cheaper counterpart.

We found a similar pattern with other dog and cat foods we looked at. In fact, top vets told us that any pet food labelled as ‘complete’ or ‘complete and balanced’ will provide all the nutrients they need in their diet.

Butcher’s told us that every dog is different and their range of products mean consumers have a selection of recipes to choose from. And it’s true that every so often, you might want to pick up something different for your dog (or cat) to try.

So – do you pick up premium pet food for your furry friends? And do you think it’s worth the extra expense – or does it not matter when you see them devouring it and licking the food bowl clean?

Do you think you spoil your pet?

I don't have a pet (39%, 216 Votes)

Yes - all the time (28%, 158 Votes)

Occasionally (26%, 144 Votes)

No (7%, 39 Votes)

Total Voters: 557

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Comments
Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Our cat lived with us for 20 years until it died it was the most spoiled /loved pet in existence . My wife got it as a small kitten and it bonded with her , it was totally possessive/ protective to my wife , never left her –and I mean NEVER left her ! Didnt like me in the bed at night always tried to keep close to her , she would wake up covered in sweat because it lay right on top of her and you know cats have a higher temperature than human beings . It never thought it was a cat would turn down most cat food(unless it was expensive ) and only eat what my wife eat even if it was not what a cat eat normally .It was always on my wife,s lap . When somebody came in it didnt like it and made it obvious by getting down from my wife,s lap going to the visitor – look up at them and went YAhhooow and walked out the door . One visitor stayed a long while after the usual -YAoooW and walking out the door it walked back in went up to the visitor and vomited at her feet . Two other visitors got the “bad smell ” treatment ” when it thought they had overstayed he went up to them and farted in their direction . One time I got a Chinese chicken meal delivered because it was my wife,s birthday as the chicken was done inoriginal Chinese style of leaving the skin on my wife could not eat it so our cat got it , it looked at my wife then the food and she told him tom take it , it had rice /prawn crackers etc , he eat half and slowly moved a few feet away – sat licking for 5 minutes thought about it ,turned round and eat the lot , he could only drag himself a foot or two collapsed as his stomach was level with his paws and stayed that way for a day , it was the quietest we have ever seen him . He looked on me as competition and “played ” with me like a dog claws /teeth into my hands luckily I have thick skin ,until my wife said —LUCKY — STOP !! then instantly the claws went back in and amazingly he licked my hand , he wasnt stupid , never laid a finger on my wife only a slight brushing if he wanted her attention unless she was reading then when he wasnt the centre of attention he burst right through the newspaper . Having said all that when we took him to the vet and he had to be “put down ” we both cried and it took months to get over it.

Profile photo of Siobhan Chan
Member

I love this story, Duncan – especially the bit about the vomiting (and I don’t say that a lot!). Lucky sounds like he was a brilliant cat. Sometimes I think they can be smarter than people 😛

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Slobhan – I take it from the photo and name you have some Chinese heritage ?? (correct me if I am wrong ) As somebody who has studied and got diplomas for “spiritual ” matters I have to tell you something that might interest you personally . He was born in the year of the Fire Dragon , not only that in Western astrology he was born an Aries which is a cardinal Fire sign ( I too am a fire sign ) when we were out at a Chinese restaurant and were discussing him with the owners they offered to buy him but we refused about 6 months later going back in we were this time approached by a very wealthy Chinese business man whose £60,000 Mercedes was parked out side . He said there is no luckier Chinese sign than that and that he wanted Lucky for his family — he offered us —£2000 apologizing we turned him down .

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Member

I definitely spoiled my dog, much to my parent’s disapproval. On his birthday (24th November 🙂 ) I’d buy him some smoked salmon for his birthday tea. Then at Christmas he was always the top of my present buying list – mainly because his party trick was his amazing ability to unwrap presents, he was a very gentle pooch 🐶

But going back to Siobhan’s convo … he didn’t really eat dog food, my parents would buy the scrappy off cuts of chicken from the local butcher every week and mix it up with dog biscuits, they found was much cheaper than dog food. It didn’t seem to do him any harm either, Harry was a healthy dog who lived to the ripe old age of 14

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
Member

Perhaps as balance we should talk of the diseases that pets can carry and that humans can catch. I do like pets , and have a succession of cats, but some people take it way too far.

As I do not have time to dig up the evidence – congratulations on a sensible subject – with a useful result.
To hand I have this which is of interest:

“” Everybody knows that chocolate is bad for dogs. But the dangers of sugarless chewing gum aren’t as well known, even though the consequences can be just as severe. Sugarless gum often contains xylitol, a sweetener known as sugar alcohol. It’s used in many products and foods for human use but can have devastating effects on your pet.

Over the past several years, the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received several reports—many of which pertained to chewing gum—of dogs being poisoned by xylitol, according to Martine Hartogensis, a veterinarian at FDA.

It’s not just gum that often contains xylitol. You can also find it in sugar-free candy, including mints and chocolate bars. Other products that may contain xylitol include:
breath mints;
baked goods;
cough syrup;
children’s and adult chewable vitamins;
mouthwash; and
toothpaste.

Symptoms
Put simply, the problem with xylitol is that it can cause a rapid decrease in blood sugar. That’s because — unlike in humans — xylitol causes a rapid increase of insulin from the dog’s pancreas, which in turn can cause blood sugar levels to plunge to dangerous levels.

Symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs include vomiting, followed by symptoms associated with the sudden lowering of your dog’s blood sugar, such as decreased activity, weakness, staggering, incoordination, collapse, and seizures.

If you think your dog has eaten xylitol, take him to your vet or an emergency animal hospital immediately, Hartogensis advises. Because hypoglycemia and other serious adverse effects may not occur in some cases for up to 12 to 24 hours, your dog may need to be monitored.

The surest way to keep your dog from accidentally woofing down xylitol is to keep all human food, drugs, and cosmetics in a safe place, keeping in mind that many dogs are adept at counter-surfing.

And by the way, note that human toothpaste often contains xylitol and should never be used for dogs.
What about cats? Their tolerance for xylitol is uncertain, but since most cats hate sweets, it’s not usually a problem. ”
consumeraffairs.com/news/sugarless-gum-candy-toothpaste-may-be-deadly-for-dogs-051716.html

Member
Paul says:
27 May 2016

I had been waiting for this report from Which and I’m afraid I’m quite disappointed by the lack of depth, and limited range of products that appear to have been tested. I couldn’t go out and choose a cat food from this report with any confidence.
One big omission I think is explaining the quality of the meat used in pet foods. Eg What’s the difference between Chicken, Chicken Derivatives, Chicken Meal etc. Protein goes under a number of difference guises

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Paul as regards the quality of pet food sold in supermarkets to cats many years ago a very cheap cat food was sold it started killing off cats in the long term and it was removed from sale . whenever you see the word –Derivatives—BEWARE ! and that includes food for human consumption it legally allows the packaging of parts of the body of the animal that no civilized person would eat for example- the sex organs ligaments, glands (various ) do you get the picture ? Yuk ! All those names are just window dressing for very cheap parts of the animal thats why when you go to a supermarket for chicken its now labeled 99 % breast and or wings etc they are legal definitions . If tested by the Environmental Health and found to contain other parts then they would be liable to prosecution under the law. pet food has lower standards . You can of course ,if you love your pet feed them high quality produce containing only quality parts of the animal or fish , then you would expect a longer life from your pet.

Profile photo of Siobhan Chan
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Sorry to hear that, Paul. When planning the article, we did consider ways to determine the ‘best’ cat and dog foods – there’s an awful lot of choice out there, and a lot of it depends on the preference of who’s eating the food. There’s always the risk that a dog or cat will turn their nose up at what you give them, and taste tests for dogs and cats aren’t as straightforward as they are for people!

So instead, we set out to answer the question of whether premium pet foods are worth the extra money, which I hope is still useful.

If meat quality is important to you, our expert nutritionist told us that a high-quality food will list the actual ingredients used (for example, will say ‘chicken’ rather than just ‘meat derivatives’), and meat ingredients will be first on the list, meaning the recipe contains more meat than anything else.

When I was looking at products for the article, I did find some products that specifically say they use chicken breast rather than just saying ‘chicken’, but none of these were complete foods. If you chose one of these, you’d have to supplement your cat’s diet with a complete food to make sure it gets all the important vitamins and minerals. You might be able to find a complete food that states the cut of meat used, though.

Our expert also told us that using the by-products of the meat industry in pet food is potentially a more sustainable option, because this uses ‘unfashionable’ cuts of meat and offal that would otherwise be wasted. But your choice of cat food is down to personal preference.

Member
Maryclare says:
30 May 2016

Yes I have been a subscriber for a few years now and was waiting on this review to appear, I find the choice of pet food is bewildering , lately I have opted for Aldi’s dry food for dogs Earls and have been pleased with it but I was hoping that this guide would give me an indication of whether this was a good choice or was I just a cheapskate. yes a bit more depth would be good

Member

Earls doesn’t have a good list of ingredients – Cereals, Meat and animal derivatives ( Chicken 4 % minimum in the moist meaty chunk biscuit with chicken) Derivates of vegetable origin. Oils and fats.Vegetable protein extracts. Vegetables (4 % in the green kibble) Minerals with antioxidant. EC Additives. Coloured & Preserved with EC Additives.
Full of derivatives, additives and colourings – not good……..

Member
Whethergirl says:
30 December 2016

I agree with Paul. Very limited information and disappointing as this is such a huge industry and so many of us want to balance good nutrition with sensible expenditure. Try again Which.

Member
Richard says:
27 May 2016

I too had been waiting for this report, and think that Which? has wasted my time!

My late (lamented) Guy lived to 13 (and a dark night as he crossed the road) on IAMS which is widely available, but you don’t bother to mention. Fin, now 14 months and 38kg, is on Royal Canin Large Junior, and looks gleaming on it. It is expensive, but … Again you don’t bother to mention it.

I asked his Vet in Scotland, who said that this was an interesting question, and that she’d been stuck with a sack of one of the premium brands, specially ordered for a customer who changed his mind. She’d given it to her own dog, and had noticed that his turds were much smaller, from which she deduced that there was more nutrient in the expensive product.

Please do the job again, starting with the international brands, like Royal Canin and Purina’s various products.

Profile photo of Siobhan Chan
Member

Hi Richard. For this article we were comparing standard and premium products, so we could only look at ranges that had a standard version and a pricier premium version. This wasn’t the case for Iams.

We also couldn’t cover every product on the market, so we chose the brands with the largest market share. Sadly, Royal Canin wasn’t one of these brands.

Sorry to hear your questions weren’t answered in the article, but I hope that helps to explain why we looked at the products we did.

Member
Richard says:
2 June 2016

The “pricier premium version” of IAMS is called EUKANUBA, I think you’ll find.

I look forward to a serious survey of nationally available dog foods. You could start by simply going to your nearest branch of “Pets at Home” and copying the analysis off the packs and noting prices, then reverting to your Vet.

Member
Carole Dumbleton says:
27 May 2016

I buy my retired greyhound his complete dog food from a company called Oscar and the food is the same name. It is a franchise that operates in a number of areas. You order and pay for your food over the phone and it is delivered the next day. There is also expert help and advice available and I was referred to one of their staff who also had a retired greyhound so I could speak to someone who had experience of thr breed. The reason we use this food because it is the only food we have been able to find that gives my dog “solid stool” i e there is no diarrhoea. It is more expensive than shop bought food and I think that there would have been more value to look at a bigger picture. How you can find the brands that are not in the shops would have been brilliant. We stumbled on Oscars because they were doing a promotion pets at home. Once we had been customers for a few months we were sent free treats. The dog liked them so much we had to get more so all in all a good company for looking after their customers and their dogs.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

We had a lovely cat for many years but she died a few years ago shortly after returning from a boarding establishment where she was not happy and we decided not to have another pet because of the inconvenience around holidays. She was not over-pampered but we did feed her chicken and turkey breast meat and some fish, all finely chopped, as well as morsels from our own plates which she always seemed to like.

We could tell from her own hunter-gatherer instincts in her younger days, however, that we were not able to supply the food she would really have preferred. I wondered why none of the cat food manufacturers offered a mouse-meat or sparrow-meat product. Once an escaped budgerigar spent a day in our garden and our cat was entranced by this fancy bird following its every move.

Member
PaolaB says:
28 May 2016

Hi Siobhan, the findings in this article are interesting but the test sample is too small to be significant. I would not be able to switch brands or use the information because the brand I use has not been analysed. It would be helpful if Which planned a Best Buy test for pet food, testing function, i.e. nutritional value, claims and quality of the ingredients, across a range of popular products. As Which consumers of pet foods we need to know if the product we are buying now for our pets is actually nutritious and as labelled, what the best buys are and whether we should switch brands.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

We don’t even get that level of independent analysis for human food products, but at least the ingredients and nutritional values are listed on the container, accurately I hope. With pet food, people have nothing to go on other than the manufacturer’s advertising. It is very easy to be persuaded to buy a more expensive product for no discernible benefit to the animal’s health or condition.

Member
Rob says:
29 May 2016

John,
I’ve had a look at the Oscars website mentioned in a comment above and you do get a full list of ingredients, look here

https://www.oscars.co.uk/images/product-pdfs/Oscar-Adult-Complete-Lamb-and-Rice.pdf

This information is also listed on the packaging of the food.

So why not check it out rather than just relying on the advertising of the major manufacturers?

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Thanks Rob.

I agree people should check it out if the information is available. Are equivalent details provided on all pet food packaging? – It is now a long time since we bought any and in those days it certainly wasn’t.

I just did a quick on-line check on the contents of a Sainsbury’s cat food tin. The website does provide a very simplified nutrition statement and a summarised ingredients list. It was not up to the level of detail shown for the Oscar product and I could not tell whether this information was also printed on the packaging .

Profile photo of jadzia
Member

Hi John,

all pet food should meet the legislation as described here;

http://www.pfma.org.uk/uk-pet-food-legislation/

But as you’ve found not all pet food suppliers provide the full level of detail.
As a basic check; see whether the percentage of ingredients adds up to 100%, if it doesn’t you need to ask yourself what’s missing!

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Thanks Jadzia

This line of discussion is veering away slightly [but usefully] from where it started. I was originally responding to PaolaB who was asking if Which? would be carrying out “a Best Buy test for pet food, testing function, i.e. nutritional value, claims and quality of the ingredients, across a range of popular products“. Paola said that, as consumers of pet foods, we needed to know if the products we were buying for our pets were actually nutritious and as labelled, what the best buys were, and whether we should switch brands. My concern was that such detailed investigations by Which? are not even carried out on food for human consumption. I could not see pet food being a high priority for an in-depth investigation but, on reflection, perhaps it should be in view of the amount of money spent by consumers on pet food and the tendency of the industry to appeal to pet owners’ care for their animals by promoting expensive lines and ingredients that might not be strictly necessary for good health and condition. I was hasty in thinking that there was nothing except the manufacturers’ advertising to inform pet-owners about the make-up of the food they give their pets.

From the helpful responses received it does seem that there are indeed statutory requirements for pet food labelling and the link given by Jadzia to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association’s website does show the information that needs to be presented and the form in which it should be given. I assume that what is set out there is a correct interpretation of the relevant regulations. The required or recommended information is similar to the information given on packaging of food for human consumption although in a broader or less precise form in respect of what are called the ‘analytical constituents’. It should therefore be possible for pet food buyers to roughly compare the composition of the many different products available and make a value judgment so long as there is full and proper compliance with the labelling regulations. It seems to me that some of the ingredients, and quantities of them, that can be included in pet food do beg the questions whether the products are as good for your pet as the marketing says they are, whether they do contain the correct nutritional balance [since many low-grade derivatives are used in pet food], and how necessary and beneficial are the various ingredients [or are they just marginal product enhancements used to enable premium pricing?]. As Paola suggested, the quality of the ingredients might not live up to the claims made for them [let alone pet owners’ expectations]. This is a multi-billion pound industry that plays into the hands of the British concern for animal welfare and the population’s love of pets so consumers are entitled to some reassurance.

Member
Ken says:
28 May 2016

The article made a passing comment that a raw diet could lead to bacteria spreading around the house and could impact human health. As this type of diet is becoming increasingly common surely you should provide far more information. Our Parson Terrier thrives on a raw meat diet and can see no reason to feed him processed food full of chemicals.

Member
Anne Kuschel says:
28 May 2016

The comment on spreading bacteria around the house when feeding raw meat I found ridiculous. If you are preparing human food using raw meat the same rules apply i.e. Wash your hands and clean up thoroughly.

I have had my rescue dog (Alsation/Hound mix) for almost a year and during this time he has been sick and had diahorrea on all expensive kibble recommended by the vet for sensitive stomach etc., and continued to lose weight. Finally as a last resort she advocated trying him on raw meat and bones. I was fearful giving him the first raw bone expecting the usual upset stomach but I am now a complete convert to BARF (bones and raw food). He has put on over 3 kilos in 8 weeks, is content and no longer tries to tunnel out from the garden. Complete change in behaviour and attitude to food. He likes food now. And it’s so cheap compared to the commercial foods. He has 80% raw minced meat from the butcher which includes, bits of liver, tripe etc., and I add 20% of cooked potatoes and vegetables. I am still reading and learning about it, but would encourage anyone who has the problems I have had, to try it.

Profile photo of Ian
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There’s a comment by one Jadzia showing in the summaries, but it’s not here. When you click on the comment it takes you to the top of this topic. Perhaps lost in a wormhole?

Profile photo of jadzia
Member

Hi Ian,

hate to think I was in a wormhole!

This was my comment;

Hi John,

all pet food should meet the legislation as described here;

http://www.pfma.org.uk/uk-pet-food-legislation/

But as you’ve found not all pet food suppliers provide the full level of detail.
As a basic check; see whether the percentage of ingredients adds up to 100%, if it doesn’t you need to ask yourself what’s missing!

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

It has subsequently appeared with a link in it so I expect it was awaiting clearance by the moderator.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

Oh, right. Thanks, John.

Member
Lorraine Curtis says:
30 May 2016

I too was a little disapointed with the pet food investigation. Firstly, all you did was compare , what us dog owners call, two bottom of the range products. The behavioural problems linked to these cheaper brands are well documented, as they contain many e numbers, designed to make the food look attractive to us, but totally unnecessary for the animal concerned. One inaccuracy stated that Protein is one of the most important food groups, coming from meat or cereal. Now when I went to school, cereals were a carbohydrate, and used in large quantities in these cheaper foods as a filler. Your dog certainly won’t have the bright eyes, shiney coat and energy for life if fed these types of food. My rescue is a prime example of a dog fed cheap food , dull coat, skin allergies and hyperactive due to the additives. The dog ( or cat) needs to eat more of these cheaper foods it to actually get any benefit. I won’t go into details , but all food eaten has to be processed and what is left after the digestive process ends up, well you know where, and what comes out the other end is a sure indication of how good or bad the diet is. I know we can’t all afford to buy the very best but as member of a Labrador rescue group we actively discourage the feeding of these low quality foods and urge our members/supporters to visit http://www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk to get totally unbaised information about what food is best for your dog. Sadly these two brands are way down the bottom. There are other, equally priced complete foods that offer a much better diet for your much loved pet. My dogs are family and I strive to give them a good quality of life , backed up with a nutritional diet, Our vet agrees, as she says they are in great shape.

Member
laura wager says:
31 May 2016

I had hoped too that the trial would be a bit wider on the choices re dog food. I currently feed James Wellbeloved but have also used Royal Canine Shihtzu. My Westie has used Barking Heads. Totally bewildered as to which is the best but am aware about the ‘derivatives’ word and avoid also coloured dog biscuits. I do add fresh cooked chicken (very small amout). I would be grateful if anyone can suggest suitable and healthy dog food. The Westie is 10+ years and the Shihtzu is 8 years old.

Member
Caroline Crawford says:
31 May 2016

There are lots of lovely wet and dry food on the market, I have a 9yr old Border and she gets a wide variety including home cooked & leftovers (she’s not so keen on raw). I give her a good proportion of wet food (which she prefers), but make sure she has plenty to chew on at other times for her teeth.
I would recommend any of the following:
Canagan, Symply, Bob & Lush, Forthglade, Naturediet, Nature’s Menu.
Absolutely no derivatives in sight! James Wellbeloved actually isn’t too bad – but used to be better before they got so big – the formula definitely changed. Royal Canine not good.
P.S love Westies – great little characters!

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Ooops. Just noticed on my bag of Wellbeloved that it states 27% chicken meal. Can anyone tell me what constitues ‘meal’? I know what derivatives are but not the term meal. Help!

Profile photo of jadzia
Member

Hi Laura,

“Meal – Meal is a general manufacturing term for raw meat material that has been ground through a sieve. The finer the meal particles, the more palatable the material is and the better it performs as an extruded nugget. For example, chicken meal includes the whole bird after removing bones, head, feet, feathers etc. What is left is then sterilised, cooked, dried and ground, then stabilised with natural antioxidants (see antioxidants). The resulting meal has a high digestibility value of over 90%. All meat meals must be from animals that have been certified as fit for human consumption. The inclusion of meat products into pet foods that has not been inspected by Government-registered veterinarians is not permitted. ”

So you should be ok.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

There is some useful information about the meat meal used in dog food on the Dog Food Advisor website. It is a dried end-product of the rendering process that ends up as a highly concentrated protein powder.

Member
Caroline Crawford says:
31 May 2016

I was somewhat disappointed that the ‘investigation’ into premium pet food was so limited – while I recognise that surveys need to be focused, the simplified ‘Bottom Line’ message that feeding a pet a ‘premium’ food was not worth while from a nutritional perspective leaves the reader with the idea that to feed your pet any old rubbish is OK – The manufacturers chosen represent some of the worst dog foods on the market – bulked out with cereal & with the majority of meat as ‘meat and animal derivatives’ and even veg as ‘derivatives of vegetable origin’.

It should have been made very clear that these are amongst the lowest grade ‘economy’ pet foods on the market – and that your survey was a simple a lesson in reading labels so as not to be mislead by marketing – NOT an education on the actual quality of food you are feeding your pet.

Actual premium pet foods are expensive – and rightly so – they contain ACTUAL meat and ACTUAL vegetables and little or no cereals. For there to be no comment about the quality of ingredients from your ‘expert’ seems woefully inadequate, and unintentionally misleading.

And yes, I know that ‘derivatives’ are supposedly human grade food, but frankly if you went to the butcher to buy a steak pie, and the ingredients were listed as meat derivatives with 4% beef, would you buy it? Feed it to your kids? I think not……..our pets should be given the same courtesy and care.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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You have a point Caroline – our cat was one of the “dearest ” cats alive in the sense of the quality of pet food . No cheap “bulked up ” pet food no this was the 100 % genuine article as my wife was apt to say– all those adverts on feed your pet on £1 or less a day were rubbish as he knew the difference between good and bad pet food and it was more like nearly a fiver a day to look after him . he was so good at knowing what food was good or bad we even let him sniff food we eat and if he rejected it we didnt eat it –and he turned out to be right . We owned a flat in a city ,our next door neighbour had 3 cats and fed them on cheap rubbish supermarket food the difference , not just in health but in the quality of his fur compared to her,s was obvious our cat had beautiful silky smooth fur lively eyes ,her,s had rough fur and slightly glazed eyes . They also didnt live anywhere near as long as our cat.

Member
Matt says:
31 May 2016

Very disappointed with this review. For our dog (12yr old Lab) we use a “working dog” dried food that is considerably cheaper than the James Wellbeloved food we originally bought her. There was no apparent change in her health although a major change in the cost (working dog food has no VAT which helps).
I would have liked to know how they compare.

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There have been a number of criticisms of the scope of this article. I think one of Which?’s strengths is that it does still try to help ordinary people with ordinary incomes to seek out quality and economy [= value] in their daily purchases. It is surely not Which?’s role to confirm the choices of the better-off but to help people who might be struggling financially to find their way through the blizzard of marketing misinformation that is put out by the manufacturers – whether it’s toothpaste or dog food. Most pet owners have little effective choice but to buy the best-selling products from national brands to own-label and I am sure they find it useful to know whether it would be worth it to trade up to a premium product, or at least to see what the extra cost procures.

As a matter of interest, only one of the criticisms of the article so far has concerned cat food. Personally I feel it would be worth undertaking a wider-reaching investigation into pet food value looking at more of the popular brands as well as the own-label varieties that sell in enormous volumes. They might be “bottom of the range” as one contributor put it, but I am sure they are not all without their good points. Expert veterinary nutritional and dietary opinion would obviously be necessary for such a report.

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The problem is John a cat or dog is a living feeling being toothpaste isnt . They give you (mostly ) love, attention and company which my toothpaste doesnt , one of my failings is that I hate to see a living being suffer and I have seen the result of very cheap cat food that was full of colour/chemicals that no human would be allowed to consume . If you cant afford to keep a pet then DONT keep one –my words ? no ! The Battersea Dogs/Cats Home which my wife contributes to , with the event of this so called austerity – really take from the poor and give to billionaires (IMF/World Bank ) 1000,s of pets are kicked out of their London homes some even driven into the country and thrown out by evil owners and worse . I have seen the results and it isnt nice ,even tearful.

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That is why it is important for Which? to test pet food products and report on the ones that do no good. I accept that disposable income is no indicator of the amount people spend on pet food, but some I feel spend too much and would welcome constructive advice on how to provide the right balance for their cat or dog. I have to say that the pet’s lifestyle is another dimension in this issue but I can see how that might be too controversial.

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I must join the list of those disappointed with the report.

The ‘budget’ cat food that was reviewed came in 85g or 100g packets. So these were pouches. Picked randomly from a web site:

Whiskas 390g tins can cost around £1.42 a kilo
Whiskas 100g pouches can cost around £3.00 a kilo

Which of the two is the “budget” cat food? I was expecting at least a comparison between the cheaper tins (which have bigger chunks) and the more expensive pouches.

At a minimum I would have expected a statement that (despite the different formats) the two formats had identical constituents and nutritional value. I was rather hoping for an explanation as to why it was necessary to pay twice the price for food in sachets instead of tins.

It would also have been good to see a comparison between the cheapest Lidl/Aldi “amorphous sludge” and the most expensive “Super delicacy gourmet with added fairy dust” varieties, for example:
“Designed for seriously pampered moggies, the new cat food is made from roasted duck, lobster sushi roll and Beluga caviar and costs a whopping £24.99 per portion.”
http://www.housetohome.co.uk/articles/news/treat-your-cat-to-the-world-s-finest-cat-food_532076.html
O.K., perhaps that one is a bit over the top, but I trust you get my point.

Our two cats (brother and sister from the same litter) will be 20 in October and seem to have survived mainly on Whiskas, and mainly from tins.

We nearly lost them a couple of years back – they were losing weight (the ginger male in particular) and having trouble eating – so we took the ginger male to the vet who found that his teeth were very badly covered in plaque. We decided (despite the obvious risks) to have them cleaned (this involved a general anaesthetic). The result was a new lease of life – so we had the other cat done as well. Apparently their teeth were in very good condition under all the gunk but the discomfort was stopping them eating.

Finally I was very disappointed in the advice from (IIRC) the vet about home made pet food – basically “Oh, no, don’t do anything yourself. Pay a vet to tell you what to do.” which unfortunately sounded very much like a professional protecting the revenue of the profession.

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Colin Tomlinson says:
6 June 2016

As a Canine Behaviourist, I have studied canine nutrition extensively and the effects on the physiology of dogs. I was really disappointed with the article on ‘Pricey Pet Foods’. You refer to the chosen products as premium I can assure you that the products/brands you have chosen for the comparison are a million miles away from being premium! I’m really surprised you got Dr Teresa Holland to comment and evaluate what can only be described as ‘Cattle Food ‘ I understand that you have to start somewhere with your choice of products but the choice made is like comparing an expensive cigarette to a cheap cigarette brand they are both really bad for your health! Canine nutrition has moved on light years from when these products were conceived. The new ‘Black’ is Grain Free, High Meat, Artificial preservative, Antioxidant free, with bioavailable protein sources not cereal. Any Pet Health professional worth their salt should have knowledge regarding the detrimental effects that the formulas you have featured can have on short and long term health. I spend most of my days educating and re-educating owners, breeders, rescue centres, veterinary students vets on Canine Nutrigenomics. Pet food is now available in many formats. The dry dog food you feature is made by ‘Extrusion’ High temperature, high pressure which seriously depletes all the good elements from the product. Other news methods are now utilised widely in the pet food industry i.e. Cold Pressed extrusion, Freshtrusion – low temperature, low pressure (retains more of the nutritional value of the original product), Dehydration – pet foods can be dehydrated then rehydrated prior to consumption (great method for retaining nutritional value). A little known fact you may not be aware of is that the ingredients printed on the packs is not the true nutritional content of the food. The ingredients refer to the pre-extruded mix before processing! Manufacturers do not have to declare all the ingredients that are pre-mixed i.e. dry meat meals can have preservatives and additives included and not declared! It is common for manufacturers to use ingredients that are known carcinogens e.g. BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin that are used to preserve the shelf life of fats,oils & proteins. One of the foods you allude to with ‘meaty chunks’ that just happen to be soya utilise Propylene Glycol (anti-freeze) for retaining moisture! I could go on but I will have to start quoting and referencing academic articles that your so called experts should be aware of. I’m very passionate with regards to canine nutrition because I’m well aware of the damage poor quality foods can and do have on the physiology of dogs. I can calm a dog down, improve its health, extend its life expectancy (all of which I have evidence for) simply by changing the diet.
As an after thought: the cost of a quality Grain Free food for a small Lab can be 65p per day! I feed my own 21kg Lab b***h 200gms a day, notice the better the nutritional value of the food the less you need to feed!

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Colin I am very impressed with your knowledge in this subject and look forward to a rebuttal from “the experts ” . I would have no problem taking my well loved pet to you.

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Joanna says:
7 June 2016

Going on from some of the comments above –
I am concerned that the petfood tested and compared was the commercial mainline brands – whilst I’m sure that cheap vs premium in these has about the same nutrition, there is a lot of concern among more savvy pet owners about the quality (or lack of) of ingrediedients which goes into commercial food – it would be good to see some articles on the better brands (in terms of grain-free, organic etc). In particular there are now some better kibbles on the market (AATU, Burnes, Meowing/Barking Heads to name a few) which at least do not use wheat or similar grains, and do use better quality meat – rather than the ‘meal’ which is worse than goes into turkey twizzlers. I know the big commercial companies also sponsor vet nutrition training so it’s really hard to get independent opinion, but I though that was one of the thing ‘Which?’ stood for.

As for the argument against home cooking (particularly for cats) – I would direct you to the site http://www.knowhatyoufeed.com – it’s US based but they provide a calculator and supplments to assist people like me who are worried about what their pets are eating in the mechanically rendered meat which goes into most pet food. Mine live healthily on home-cooked as often as I can get to make it for them.

And to anyone really interest look up the US petfood melamine scandal of 2007 – >10,000 cats and dogs died due to unscrupulous importers and CHinese supply chain – we should be worried that the Chinese are getting licences now to manufacture complete petfoods themselves….be worried

See also http://truthaboutpetfood.com/

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Has anybody noticed that 2/3rds of responders to the survey whether you spoil your pet or not are pet owners ? only 1/3 say they dont own a pet so can we say generally Which posters are pet lovers ? Now that must be a good thing —right ?

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selina innes says:
9 June 2016

I am fascinated to learn that after hundreds, if not thousands of years eating what they could get hold of either in the wild or in the household (remember the Jungle Book, how the woman tamed the first dog…)
Dogs and Cats actually need the services of a veterinary- trained nutritionist. This in spite of having stomach acids that can dissolve virtually anything, including as we all know – carrion, sheeps’ poo, take away curry…..
Who’d have thought it.

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selina -but those 1000,s of years of eating other animals did not include in their DNA the ability to eat and survive modern man made chemicals that are added for taste/colour and bulked up with pure rubbish. At least you could say in the past what they eat was either organic or natural ,there is nothing “natural ” in those evil modern day , cheap adulterations that are labeled -“cat/dog food ” .

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Nicola Wilkinson says:
12 June 2016

Canagan cat food – highly recommended; We have two cats, aged 13 and 7, and after sticking to a strict vet prescribed Science Diet for our previous two cats which lived for around 17 years, we started feeding Hills’ Science Diet to our two new cats. Then I started to appreciate how vital the meat content was to cat health and now take my calculator along with me to the local pet store when buying cat food. I buy the highest meat content for the money and to avoid dramatic dietary changes, mix half the new bag with half the old bag if the brand is different. Whenever possible I aim to buy Canagan cat food as I think their approach to feeding cats is closest to current understanding and our cats thrive on it. I also expect the very large cat that comes into our house from one of our neighbours particularly likes this one too as it seems to go down very quickly!

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Aidan Craig says:
15 June 2016

It would have been interesting to see what Colin fed his dog. We have been using Hills which is not cheap because we were advised by the breeder that it was good. Since reading the which report which was much too thin and almost misleading I have spent time reviewing different foods on the website advised by Lorraine above. I’ve just bought some Eden which comes at the top of the recommended brands – I was also disappointed with the Hill’s score

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Emma says:
30 June 2016

Butchers is such a bad food I don’t think it can be used as an example, you’re comparing two bad foods of the same brand which isn’t the same as comparing a bad food with a good premium diet! The difference between butchers and a food such as wainwrights for example (while not the best on the market but still very good and affordable) is huge! Wainwrights for example use glucosamine in their mature range to help with joints, butchers probably just add more cereal😂 and in this case (comparing a bad food with a GOOD food) it shows spending more on your animals food is worth it, and so, I have to disagree!

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Now thats a good point Emma , I look with interest at the replies .

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I’ve no axe to grind re pets – had a lovely pair of Labradors and a black cat years ago and they are (were) great company. But just to put another thought in, particularly for those who use phrase “the choice between heating and eating” in other Convos. I’ve had a quick count up and we have in the UK 8.5m dogs and 7.4m cats who consume a lot of food and even more money. Would we, as a caring society, be better off putting that food and money to better use – helping and feeding the poor here and in countries where poverty and starvation is endemic?

I know the answer, but just point out the personal double standards we all (nearly) live with.

My Labradors lived on Wilsons dog meal – cereal with fish and meat additives mixed with water and wolfed down. Recommended by the breeder. It was convenient for me, seemingly loved by the dogs, and they did not need the pampering food and treats that we lavish on them today (probably more for our benefit than the animals).

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malcolm-Its down to freedom of choice like when people go the polls and vote Brexit . To many people they get total love from their pets something thats rare in human relationship , they are a constant companion ,friend and in most cases a joy to have . Humans cheat,steal, torture and kill , make wars etc . Pet lovers will gladly do all they can for their pets because they know their pets are there for them , even our cat wouldnt go to anybody else because it loved us. because we gave it affection and loved it back. Many people in life are hurt by other intelligent beings either emotionally or physically , the people doing it know exactly what they are doing and cause many people to take their own lives or live a life of mental hell reliving their past . A pet is a comfort against that a bulwark against society and life itself it is a rare human who can achieve that. Humans are cruel.

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duncan, as I said I (think I) know the answer, just as you describe. I was just pointing to the way we seem to adopt different standards depending upon how it affects us.

I see that a mountain biker was killed in the USA by a grizzly bear. The authorities are trying to find the animal. I assume they want to kill it. Why? It is a wild animal, with every right to live on the planet. We may be seeming to want to treat it as we would a human murderer. But the Americans rarely kill those any more,, do they? More double standards?

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Given those statistics Malcolm it worries me that, on the basis of what goes in comes out, our public authorities are having to dispose of up to 15m pet outputs worth per day at a charge to the Council Tax, some of which is paid by people without pets including many of the poorer folk. An extra 10% VAT on pet food could be used to provide suitable support to those who have to choose between eating and heating.

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Dog semen production falling drastically – is it the food as large amount of contaminants found.
newatlas.com/male-dog-fertility-food/44846/

for the science and can it relate to the drop in humans
nature.com/articles/srep31281

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Oh for Pete’s sake seamen spelt correctly is a proper word!!

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Hello @dieseltaylor, we have an automatic profanity filter which caught your comment out here, I’ve changed the settings for the filter now

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It may be ‘automatic’ but these filters have to be programmed manually. Next time I’d suggest someone other than a ninety year-old nun do it…

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Profanity filter! Profanity You cannot be serious!!!
: )

Perhaps you should share the list with the forum and we can give it back to you tomorrow. President ***** might be a problem though.

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I got censored for the same item- human semen , I cant figure out why that should be censored as plenty of female “sensitive issues ” are splashed all over the adverts on TV . And what about “men,s issues ” dont they count ? I dont have a problem with President Putin just Obommer and the future presi- KIllery.

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Hi Duncan – It’s not personal. I have had a few expletives deleted including a well-known farmyard alarm clock [oops! . . . nearly!]. Which? has this enormous list of naughty words but it doesn’t seem to stop the offensive language that appears on this site everyday from some of the more splenetic contributors.

By the way . . . If you keep rubbishing Hilary we might end up with The Donald and we shall all hold you responsible! You know this site is read all over America and they take what we say seriously. No — they do!

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The list will probably be censored. Perhaps it could turn into a competition to guess the words?

I haven’t tried adding an extra symbol or letter to a word but that might get round the problem if you wanted to. However with the regular use of “profane” words in print, on tv, and seemingly in everyday conversation the need for such a filter seems pointless. I have asked in vain if any new profane words have arrived that trump (or T****) all the ones I know.

Back to dogs’ semen. I wonder what prompted this study at the University of Nottingham and what the real concern is? I could understand investigating humans, but why dogs?

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John – I understand where you are coming from but I know her history and i am telling the truth , millions of Americans know too . I also realise that in this country most people look up to the US and that she will probably get the presidents job but I have zero respect for her . There are many posters on Which slagging off TM I dont to the same extent as she is not as bad as HC . So If I dont put down our own PM of who,s country I am a citizen of why should I respect a leader of a foreign country. ? You say you lived in the US have you seen or heard the comments ordinary Americans come out with when referring to this country , ? I hear them every day on American websites ans I couldn’t repeat some as it would greatly offend . The US isnt God , it doesnt rule me I have respect for the truth . I dont like Donald either but he is trying to stop WW3 and that to me means saving the lives of 100,s of millions of World citizens including Americans,

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“As ‘man’s best friend’ and closest animal companion, the dog shares the same environment, exhibits the same range of diseases, many with the same frequency, and responds in a similar way to therapeutic treatments. There is evidence that over the last 40 years, the incidence rate of canine testicular cancer has increased in parallel with changes seen in humans17,18. In addition, histological signs which characterise human TDS have recently been described in the dog19. These include seminiferous tubule abnormalities and testicular germ cell neoplasia in situ (GCNIS) cells which are known precursors of seminomas in the human20. Since human TDS includes a reduction in sperm count21 and an increased incidence of cryptorchidism, we hypothesised that the dog may exhibit similar manifestations of TDS and that this may be associated with exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. We therefore (1) monitored canine semen quality over a period of 26 years using standard and consistent techniques and (2) interrogated an extensive database of electronic health records for evidence of a temporal change in the incidence of cryptorchidism reported in male puppies.”

I think that explains all. : ) Actually it is quite an elegant idea for mammals sharing the same space.

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I thought pigs were nearer to humans. I wonder if they have similar problems?

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In humans this has a tie up with the plastic used for liquid containment as I go on about , there are so much female hormones in the London sewers that workers need to be protected , streams have fish with both sets of organs or male fish with unformed organs . I have seen the pictures this gets back into the water system again . and malcolm is right pigs have skin and organs that can be used for human repair and have been . When the US were testing nukes in the desert in the 50,s they tied up pigs to see what damage was done to them as our skin and theirs is alike.