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Feed better, live better

Every now and then, while in discussion with a pet parent, a new way of explaining things tumbles out of my head.

Recently, something that just makes sense came out. We were talking about how improving a pet’s nutrition costs more at first, but ends up costing less in the long run. It got me thinking about how we budget for our pets.

We seem to have three separate budgets for our pets. Discretionary spending (toys, treats, Halloween costumes) requires having “extra” cash available or being willing to forego other purchases in order to buy something for our special furry friends. These are generally item-by-item decisions.

Second, we have veterinary budget. Some people buy insurance to make it more predictable but, generally, when a vet bill happens, a vet bill happens, and we find a way to pay it. We don’t usually question the cost, or shop around to find a better deal, we just pay what we are told to pay.

Third, we have a nutrition budget. Many people have a very distinct number they want to spend on nutrition, and will shop to find the best option that fits their budget. There are products that will meet just about every budget level, and all brands will tout that they are everything your pet needs, even if they are a bargain price.

These are habits that consumers have fallen into over the decades before people became more aware how pet nutrition can make a difference in your pet’s life. We’ve long been convinced that a little brown pebble of processed food is what we need to feed our pets. Long after humans realized that clean, fresh food is better for us than processed food, we still offer processed foods to pets.

In our discussion, we agreed that pet nutrition and veterinary care are linked, and it made sense to budget them the same way. Choosing an arbitrary number and trying to find something that fits under it did not make sense for the health of the pet. Finding the best nutrition solution for the pet and finding a way to budget for that as we would pay other veterinary expenses makes more sense.

I’m not saying changing nutrition will cure every issue and prevent every vet bill. But, for the vast majority of people I’ve worked with, improving nutrition and adding appropriate supplements has incredibly improved their pets’ health and, in doing so, reduced veterinary expenses. In most cases, the veterinary cost savings outweighed the increase in nutrition spending, saving money overall while improving the pets’ lives.

Again, I’m not saying that feeding a fresher, cleaner food will eliminate all your veterinary bills, but it just stands to reason that better nutrition means better health, and reduced vet visits. Especially for diet-related issues, like allergies, obesity, skin issues and even cancer.

I really think that in 10 years, we will have changed the way we look at food as medicine for pets, and we will be modifying our budgets accordingly, much as we have done for ourselves and our children. There are just too many people having great results embracing fresh, clean foods for this not to catch on.

Spending a little time and energy researching nutrition rather than just buying the bag with the fancy stickers and claims can pay huge dividends for both you and your pet.

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