Markup on Dog Food

by Kevin on May 6, 2008

dog food

(Photo by MShades)

The pet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States. We really like to take care of our pets.

Of course, we got a puppy two Saturdays ago. We have incurred expenses as you might expect — adoption fee, collar, leash, food and water bowls, food, toys… the list goes on and on.

We were in PetSmart the other day looking at dog food. The Humane Society gave us a 5 lb. bag of Science Diet for Puppies, which they recommended. We found the location of the Science Diet and did some investigation. Just like you might check the per ounce cost at the grocery store, we did the same thing with the dog food.

The per pound cost of dog food

This is what we found:

Small bag, 5 lbs.: $11

Big bag, 40 lbs.: $40

Woah… wait a second. Do the math. The small bag is $2.20 per pound. That’s practically chuck round ground beef! The big bag is only $1 per pound.

There is a significant bulk discount to buying the bigger bag. If you buy the smaller bag you pay a 120% premium. I could understand charging a little bit more for the smaller bag, but 120% seems a bit over the top.

Long story short, if you have a pet make sure you’re checking the per pound or per ounce cost of the food. Compare it to other bags from the same brand. I would imagine that generally the more you buy, the cheaper the food is.

When our free small bag runs out, we’ll definitely be getting a big bag of the dog food.


CindyS May 6, 2008 at 9:37 am

It is definitely less expensive to buy in bulk but make sure your puppy can eat it in a reasonable amount of time. If you are buying good quality dog food, it generally means less preservatives or natural ones as well as a pretty high fat content. These can go bad over a period of time and even react to storage containers. I personally recommend that you buy no bigger bag than your dog can eat in a month. It is difficult to tell when dry food goes bad as there is really not much change in odor and you and I aren’t tasting it.

squawkfox May 6, 2008 at 10:41 am

Although more expensive, there is value in buying a small bag if you just want to “try” a new food with your dog. Some dogs just don’t do well on some foods. It’s better to “try” a smaller bag and pay the premium than to buy a more cost-effective big size only to find it upsets your dog’s tummy.

MyMoneyAdventure May 6, 2008 at 11:38 am

Costco is great for dog food!!

Monica September 17, 2010 at 7:00 am

While your math is correct, the logic is not. You have to feed a higher quantity of lower quality foods for your pet to get anywhere close to the proper nutrition. The AAFCO’s standards on said nutrition, for pet food companies, are sub-par at best!

You must analyze how many meals are in each bag and break down the cost that way. If your dog needs 6 cups a day of Science Diet, as opposed to 3 cups of food with a higher quality brand, though the higher quality food costs 40% more- the more expensive food ends up costing less by the bottom of the bag. A good question to ask, “What does it cost per serving?”

I think you should also consider that your pet will reap health benefits from being fed a higher quality food. Their overall health will be enhanced, which leads to fewer vet bills, and again offers the pet owner savings over the long term. A good question to ask, “Are there ingredients in this food that could be harming the overall health of my pet?”

Taking all this into consideration, I think most pet owners can begin to understand that they really can feed a better diet and still save money!

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