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How to Avoid Paying a Premium for Pet Food

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Experts discuss how to save money on pet food.

Savings Experiment: Pet Food Your pet deserves the very best, but you may be overpaying for Fido's meals. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you're buying food and feeding your beloved dog or cat.

The only way to really ensure the quality of your pet food is to make it yourself, but not only can it cost you a lot of money, it can also cost you a lot of time. So, when shopping for your pup's next meal, being a savvy consumer is the best way to cut costs.

First, avoid pet stores and pet websites and head to big box retailers like Target and Walmart for the best deals. When looking at labels, stay away from "premium blends," as there's no legal definition for that phrase in the pet food world. Instead, stick with brands that use terms like "complete and balanced," "total nutrition" or "100 percent nutritious." This usually indicates that the product is adequate for the vast majority of healthy pets.

At the end of the day, though, the cost and quality of pet food is really dependent on the opinions of each pet owner. "Package labeling is not a reliable indication, as the standards and definitions differ significantly from human food labeling standards," reports petMD via PawNation. "The use of commercial pet food leaves pet owners to define acceptable levels of compromise between quality and cost."

The site adds that pet food is made from meat products that cannot be profitably sold for human consumption. Meanwhile, the processes used to make kibbled food are known to degrade the quality of many nutrients. "Nutritional claims for this most popular and convenient form of pet food is based on the nutrient content prior to both heat processes," petMD says.

So, whether you choose to make your own pet food or buy it from the store, consider both your out-of-pocket costs and the quality of what you're feeding your dog or cat. In this case, value is subjective and only you can decide what's best for your pet.

*This video should not be used in the place of medical advice. Please consult your veterinarian on the best diet options for your pet.

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