The majority of dog owners in Belgium, Canada, France, the U.K. and U.S. surveyed about their dog feeding habits said quality of the dog food is their top criteria in selecting a product. That was the first choice for 60% of the nearly 1,500 owners surveyed by Pets International magazine and Yummypets, an online community for pet owners.
Other criteria for choosing dog foods were nutritional intake, selected by 50% of respondents, followed by price at 42%, health benefits at 29% and flavor taste at 23%.
Interestingly, a separate survey of U.K. pet owners by Mintel showed 60% prioritize health benefits in selecting pet foods. Obviously, this is not a direct comparison, with one survey focusing on dog food purchasing in multiple countries, while the other was about pet food in general in a single country. But it’s surprising that health didn’t rank higher on the Pets International/Yummypets survey. (Those findings did show that 62% of the U.K. respondents check a dog food’s ingredient list for nutritional value, health benefits or ecological impact.)
Kibble, treats and prices toward the middle
Also in the majority of the dog owners in the Pets International/Yummypets survey: those who prefer feeding dry kibble, at 65% overall. Dry dog food is particularly popular among French (83%), Canadian (75%) and Belgian (68%) respondents. More than 30% of the total respondents said they feed a combination of wet and dry dog food. That is especially prevalent in the U.K., where 56% of owners do so.
Treats are popular, too, fed daily by 63% of all the dog owners; again, the U.K. respondents stand out, with 75% giving dog treats daily. Only 2% of overall respondents said they don’t give treats at all.
As for price level, mid-priced and premium dog foods are purchased most often by all the dog owners surveyed, at 40% and 37%, respectively. Far fewer buy superpremium (9%) or “low cost” (7%) dog food. Among the different countries, dog owners in France (46%) and Canada (41%) are more likely to feed premium dog food, while 47% of U.K. owners purchase mid-priced products.
With nutritional intake ranking fairly high on the criteria list for selecting a dog food, a few specific qualities stand out for these dog owners: balanced food intake (70%), easy digestion (56%) and healthy skin and coat (49%).
Where’s the chicken?
In terms of preferred proteins in dog food, half the respondents named beef, followed by salmon at 44%, lamb at 38% and duck at 30%. Wild game, veal, trout and other fish were each chosen by fewer than 20% of respondents. However, 65% said they’re open to buying dog foods with alternative proteins, such as egg (77%), vegetables/plants (63%) or algae (61%), but insect protein did not rate as well. About half of respondents said they would consider feeding their dogs insect protein, though more than 20% would not.
But what about chicken? Was that left out of the survey or just the report in Pets International? It’s difficult to believe it wasn’t named by any respondents.