Study: Kibble costs less than comparable canned or home-cooked diets to treat dogs with chronic GI issues

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For immediate release: 01/04/2023

(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) January 4, 2023—Dry commercially produced diets are the least expensive option for treating dogs with chronic gastrointestinal issues, followed by homemade diets and canned food, a new study shows – matching results found for the management of other diseases such as obesity, diabetes and chronic kidney disease, according to the study's authors.

"Home-cooked diets cost more than commercially prepared dry kibble diets for dogs with chronic enteropathies," published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA), found that the median cost of dry commercially produced diets for the nutritional management of dogs with chronic enteropathies was $0.29 per 100 calories, while home-cooked diets formulated by veterinary nutritionists averaged $0.55 and canned diets averaged $1.01.

This study is included in a special supplemental issue of JAVMA addressing emerging and practical topics in nutrition for both large and small animals.

"When we talk to clients, they often have concerns about the cost of veterinary therapeutic diets for their dogs; in many instances they'd rather prepare home-cooked diets because they believe it will be more cost-effective," said Dr. Valerie J. Parker, clinical professor at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist and corresponding author of the study. "This is why we decided to take on this research, and the results show that while home-cooked diets can cost less than wet commercially produced foods, the least expensive option by a significant margin is a dry commercially produced diet formulated to treat these specific conditions.

"In addition, if home cooking is something that pet owners want to do, they need to make sure it's being done correctly, effectively and safely. If done wrong, home-cooked diets could be lacking in necessary nutrients, which could contribute to illness and severe health implications down the road."

Veterinarians have reported an increased interest among pet owners in feeding homemade meals as an alternative to commercially produced diets, sometimes due to perceived cost savings, but the new research shows that home-cooked diets formulated to treat chronic enteropathies are more expensive than comparable dry commercially produced diets.

In addition, several studies have shown that most home-cooked diet recipes for pets do not provide complete and balanced nutrition, which can result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies and lead to further health complications.

Pet owners considering a home-cooked diet should first consult with their veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary nutritionist to ensure it is complete and balanced and addresses the pet's underlying disease. Furthermore, even if pet owners elect to feed commercially produced diets, consultation with veterinary nutritionists should be considered for management of complicated chronic enteropathies.

To view the full special supplemental issue of JAVMA addressing emerging and practical topics in nutrition for both large and small animals, visit https://avmajournals.avma.org/view/journals/javma/260/S3/javma.260.issue-S3.xml

For more information, contact Michael San Filippo, AVMA media relations manager, at 847-732-6194 (cell/text) or msanfilippoatavma [dot] org.

About the AVMA

Serving more than 100,000 member veterinarians, the AVMA is the nation's leading representative of the veterinary profession, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of animals, humans and the environment. Founded in 1863 and with members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 60 countries, the AVMA is one of the largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Informed by our members' unique scientific training and clinical knowledge, the AVMA supports the crucial work of veterinarians and advocates for policies that advance the practice of veterinary medicine and improve animal and human health.