On ITV’s This Morning, consumer expert Alice Beer was explaining how to save money when feeding your dog. Alice explained that if the packaging carried the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association Logo (PFMA) the food would be complete and contain all the nutrients the dog needed and in the correct proportions. That being so, one could confidently switch to a cheaper (supermarket) food and save £5 per month, no problem.
I should note that I do have a conflict of interest as the Founder of Burns Pet Nutrition. However, as a vet, I strongly believe that her Alice’s advice to choose of pet food on price alone is highly irresponsible and reckless.
Firstly, the food doesn’t have to carry the PFMA logo to be complete. It is a legal requirement to state whether a pet food is complete or complementary. Whether the manufacturer is a member of the PFMA is irrelevant to that. Burns foods are nutritionally complete and Burns is a member of the PFMA but our packaging doesn’t have the PFMA logo on it.
Secondly, and much more importantly, the choice of pet food can have a huge bearing on the health and wellbeing of the pet. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of pet owners (and vets) know that not all pet foods are the same. And not all dogs are the same. The British Veterinary Association (BVA) says, “Each pet has its own [individual] needs, so the diet should be adapted to your pet’s breed, age, lifestyle, and any health conditions.”
Many health problems can be managed and avoided by choosing the correct food. This may require trialing different foods to see what best suits the individual animal. The quality and choice of ingredients is hugely important to the health and well-being of the pet. Some pet food manufacturers do not even list ingredients by name but instead use vague descriptions such as “cereals, meat and animal derivatives, etc.” rather than listing each ingredient by name. This lets them change their recipes indiscriminately without changing the packaging.
While many pet owners will know from experience that Alice was talking nonsense, my concern is that new pet owners may be misled into following her irresponsible advice. She can certainly speak in a convincing manner! Her advice runs the risk of many pets incurring health problems and vet bills which will cost a lot more than saving a few pounds a year on a cheaper pet food.
It was quite ironic that, while speaking about this, Alice Beer was distracted by her own dog scratching and rubbing her ears and head! It also appears that Alice’s dog suffers from tear staining which suggests chronic eye irritation. Alice, perhaps you ought to look at how you feed your own dog to resolve those problems!
For those owners looking to save money on their pet food, here’s my pennyworth:
Most UK pets are overweight or obese. Many other health problems are caused by overfeeding. Pet owners can save money AND improve the health of their pet by reducing the amount of food and number of treats they give their pets.