Interesting what you find on the pet food shelves at Woolworths!

With a few big dogs to feed you can imagine that I am always on the lookout for good quality dog food at an excellent price. Normally I switch between Supercoat, Bonnie Working Dog and CopRice and buy at least one 20 kg bag each week. Last week, having missed the closing time of the local produce store I rushed into Woolworths to pick up an 8 or 12 kg bag of their Woolworth’s Select Chicken and Rice to tide me over. Despite being a no name product I find it to be reasonable in terms of protein content and the amount of preservatives and additives and it is a good backup when I don’t have time to get the alternatives. I would not use it long term as it does not have the complete nutrition my dogs with special needs require but it is a good standby.

I often spend some time in the pet food isle. The locals and store personnel have become used to seeing me standing there, reading glasses on, muttering at the fine print on the back of the pet food labels Two of my dogs have Crone0hree dogs I feed have food intolerances and many feeding consultations I undertake involve dogs with food intolerance or allergy issues. I am a bit of a connoisseur of pet foods. I do stop at taste testing but frequently smell food to try and rate the palatability of each product. I feel at times a bit like the MasterChef contestants who are asked to name all the ingredients in a big bowl of food.

On this occasion I was surprised to see a new product prominently featured on the shelves. Woolworths had recently released a super premium dry food product under the Woolworths select label. To my knowledge this is the first super premium dry dog food to be sold in an Australian supermarket. Normally you can only purchase super premium foods at pet stores or veterinary clinics.

The big question however is what defines a super premium, premium, holistic or ultra premium food. These labels are not defined in any legislation specific to pet food labels and are mostly invented for the purposes of marketing and may or may not be based in fact. However having purchased large quantities of dry dog food over the last 26 years of owning large numbers of dogs you do get what you pay for.

If you stand in a very large capital city pet food warehouse like Petbarn or Petstock you will see many bags of pet food all varying in size, product ingredients, meat base (chicken, kangaroo, beef, salmon), price and with a bewildering range of product claims. As a general rule the more premium the product the greater the price. As you move from the cheap dry foods to the super premiums there is less preservative, less additive, less fillers, more real meat used and a higher protein percentage. In addition you start to see in the mid to super premiums the addition of omega 3 and 6, prebiotics, and other ingredients such as cranberries, blueberries, yucca, carrots and kelp. Some of the more common super premium brands include Hills Science, Eukanuba, Royal Canine & Eagle Pack but there are many more out there.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) establishes standards that should be considered the minimum for dog food manufacture which are only guide lines as they have no regulatory authority. Food manufactured to this standard contains a statement as such, usually on the back of the packet. The protocol requires that 6 out of 8 animals that complete a 26 week feeding trial do so without showing clinical or pathological signs of nutritional deficiency or excess.

The other important way to determine the quality of a dog food is to understand what is called the 95% rule which applies to products consisting primarily of meat, poultry or fish. At least 95% of the product must be the named ingredient (such as beef, chicken or cereal), not counting the water added for processing and “condiments.” Counting the added water, the named ingredient still must comprise 70% of the product. In addition the ingredients list (in the fine print on the back) must show the ingredients listed in order of predominance by weight. Therefore reading this list will tell you the major ingredients of the product. If cereal or rice is listed first before beef or chicken then it is not a meat based dry dog food.

So back to the comparison between Woolworth’s select Chicken and Rice and their new Woolworth’s select super premium Chicken Rice and Vegetables.

Woolworths’s Select Chicken & Rice

    • Ingredients:
      Wholegrain cereals, poultry & poultry by –product, Vegetable matter, rice, Tallow, Natural Flavor, Salt, Vegetable Oil, Bentonite, Vitamins (A, D, B1, B12, B2, B6, E, B5, Folate, B3), Minerals (Calcium Iodate, Zinc Oxide, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride & Selenium), Calcium Propionate, Antioxidam.
    • Typical Analysis:Crude Protein: 18% min
      Crude Fat: 10% min
      Salt : 1% max
      Crude Fiber: 4% max
    • Feeding:
      Up to 5 kg: ½ – 1 cup
      5-10 kg: 1-2 cups
      10-25 kg: 2-4 cups
      25 – 50 kg: 4-6 cups

 

  • Cost: (when not on special) Online website prices 8 kgs: 0.20c/100g ($2/kg) 3 kg: 0.25c/100g ($2.50/kg

 

 

Woolworth’s Select Super Premium Chicken, Rice & Vegetables  (Puppy)

  • Ingredients:
    Chicken by-product meal, maize gluten, sorghum, poultry tallow, corn, barley, rice, chicken digest, vegetable fiber, dried egg, flax seed, Dicalcium Phosphate, Vegetable oil, Fish oil, Salt Iodised, Potassium chloride, Vitamins (A, B1, B2, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, C, D, E), Choline Chloride. Natural antioxidant, Preservative, Zinc Sulphate, Ferrous Sulphate, Copper Sulphate, Potassium Iodide, Selenium
  • Typical Analysis:

         Crude Protein: 32% min
Crude Fat: 17% min
Moisture: 10% max
Crude Fiber: 5% max
Salt: 1.8% max
Ash: 10% max
Calcium: 1% min
Phosphorus: 0.8% min
Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids: 3% min
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA): 0.1% min
Average Metabolisable energy kcals/100g = 380

  • Feeding: 5 kg: 1 cup (110g) 10 kg: 1.5 cups 20 kg: 2.5 cups
  • Cost: (when not on special) Online website prices: 3kg bag: 0.47c/100g or $4.70 / kg

The super premium range contains a much larger number of flavors, good for those fussier eaters or those who have food intolerance issues; it also comes in a wider range of sizes and formulations for various age groups from puppy to senior. The major ingredient is meat whereas in the select range the major ingredient is cereal. The % of protein is much higher in the super premium at 32% versus 18% in the select and it also has Omega 3 & 6 which are well demonstrated as being beneficial in coat and allergy issues. In addition the level of fat in the super premium product is 17% versus 10% which is beneficial to dogs that need a higher fat level than humans normally consider, especially in baby puppies. This increased level of protein and the main ingredient being meat will result in a reduced elimination output in the dog, which is an added bonus for those who find cleaning up the back yard an issue. Comparing the two three kg bags the cost comparison is $2.50 versus $4.70 per kg which is not a unrealistic price difference given the advantages of the super premium product. The larger bag you buy the better the price per kg is so buying a larger bag and keeping it in a sealed container would improve this price differential even more. Hopefully in time this product will be one that consumers will support and Woolworth’s will release it in an 8 kg or even a 12 kg bag. It certainly is comparable to some of the more expensive options at the pet shop or veterinary clinic, so long as you are dealing with a dog that can tolerate lamb, beef or chicken. It will be on my shopping list as an excellent addition to what pet owners previously had available. It will be interesting to get into a Coles supermarket and see if they have released a comparable product. I will also do some investigation to see if I can determine which of the super premium products it is derived from.

More Reading:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pet_food – Read this if you really want to get confused about what products are good or bad.
http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/ResourcesforYou/UCM047113 – the mathematics and science behind dog food manufacture. Degree in Rocket Science required.

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Posted on May 30, 2011, in Feeding, Health, Pet Guardians and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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