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The Ruff Report: Cheap pet food leads to costly health problems

Pet parents tempted to switch to lower-priced food for their dogs and cats may save money now, but they are likely to shell out more dollars later in extra health costs, a veterinarian says.

 The Hunt of Her Life: A book about a rescue dog that will touch your heart

“Nutrition is the foundation of good health, and a quality diet can actually decrease your pet’s chance of developing costly health problems in the future,” says Karen J. Johnson, a veterinarian at Banfield, The Pet Hospital in Portland, Oregon.

Higher-quality diets tends to have fewer fillers which allows more nutrients to be absorbed by a pet, Dr. Johnson states in a media release. Pets also need to eat less of the higher-quality food to get the same amount of nutrients in a cheaper brand that contains fillers, Dr. Johnson states.

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Banfield, The Pet Hospital advises pet parents to:
  • Use foods that are made by companies known for ongoing nutritional research. Make sure the food is fresh by minimizing the time it is stored.
  • Feed your pet the right amount according to its weight and avoid feeding large amounts at one time.
  • Maintain a consistent daily feeding schedule to help your pet keep normal elimination habits and avoid indoor accidents.
  • Pay close attention to the first three ingredients on a pet food's label. The most nutritionally rich foods contain whole ingredients in the top ingredients, instead of “meals” or ground skeletal meats, organs or connective tissue. By-product “meals” do have nutritional benefits, but are more beneficial when not among the primary ingredients.
  • Avoid feeding “people” food. A pet’s digestive system is simpler than a person's and can be easily upset by table scraps.

The Ruff Report is a column that appears on, a blog written by Joseph A. Reppucci, a retired editor from The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Massachusetts. Mr. Reppucci worked as a reporter and editor on major daily newspapers in the Boston area for more than 30 years. He is the author of the book, The Hunt of Her Life, a heartwarming story about his once-in-a-lifetime rescue dog. Find it on and


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