Animal Doctor Articles Weekly on September 20, 2011


I read your column pretty regularly. I have a 3-year-old female beagle, and I try to take good care of her. I feed her food from a local pet store and try to get the best, as far as I can tell. Right now I am feeding her Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Canine Formula with roasted lamb, and she seems relatively healthy.

My question relates to an article in the recent issue of Consumer Reports magazine. The point of the article, in general as it came across to me, was that most store-bought foods are about the same, as long as they are marked as "complete and balanced." So a pet owner might as well go ahead and buy the cheapest brand, per ounce or pound. This usually wound up being a store brand from a very large chain, or the like.

Can you please read the article and give us your opinion?

D.M., Friendsville, Md Sep 20, 2011


I hold Consumer Reports in high regard, but its "Tame Your Pet Costs" (August 2011) report was a washout in its coverage of manufactured pet foods. Advising not to pay a premium for "premium" pet food, provided the brand is labeled "complete and balanced," "total nutrition" or "100% nutritious," was misleading at best. Then, listing some canned and dry cat food brands (which I would never recommend) at bargain prices added insult to injury.

The book that I co-authored with two other veterinarians, "Not Fit for a Dog" (Linden Publishing), and the manufactured pet food rating system by Dr. Stephen Molle posted on my website, warrant Consumer Reports doing a more in-depth study and publishing a full report on pet foods in the near future. Diet-related pet health problems are all too prevalent and costly, and one of the best ways to "tame your pet costs" is through good nutrition. The health risks of genetically modified ingredients in major pet food brands is a serious issue that I address in a new posting on my website,

I endorse this report's caution about buying pet health insurance that, in the magazine's analysis, is rarely worth the price. And I applaud that it advocates pet adoption rather than purchase of a purpose-bred kitten or puppy, and emphasizes the advantages of adopting an adult animal.

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