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How to save money when buying food for your dog: Does pricier mean better?

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Confessions of a cheapskate dog owner
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Cut the high cost of pet care with these easy tips
By Jean Chatzky

Confessions of a cheapskate dog owner | Bankrate

Confessions of a cheapskate dog owner

With my first dog, the best brindle boxer who ever lived, I bought the most expensive food I could afford -- usually Purina One.

But a lot has changed since Brutus passed away -- we have now 3 daughters. When you're on a budget that's stretched buying food for a family of 5, that giant bag of cheap food lurking on the bottom shelf looks tempting.

Vader, our black and white mutt with a heart of gold, seems healthy and happy, but I sometimes worry that by buying cheaper food, I'm endangering his health -- and racking up significant vet bills down the road -- just to save a few bucks.

However, there's more to dog food than price, and price and quality don't always go paw in paw, says Dr. Valerie Parker, DVM, an assistant professor -- clinical, at The Ohio State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

"Paying more for pet food absolutely does not guarantee that it is, in any way, a better quality pet food," says Parker.

In fact, pricey "gourmet" dog foods can easily contain less of the nutrients a dog needs than cheaper, mass-market foods, Parker says.

Confusing, right? Vague labeling, industry doublespeak and the complexities of pet nutrition can make deciding what to feed your dog a little hairy. Here's what to know.

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