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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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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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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!

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

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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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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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?

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.

Dog semen production falling drastically – is it the food as large amount of contaminants found.

for the science and can it relate to the drop in humans

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

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

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…

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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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!

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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“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.

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

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