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Price comparison
We compared three of the leading brands: Ol’ Roy, Pedigree and Beneful. Using the prices found at the time of publication and a hypothetical consumption of two cups of dry food a day, here’s how much a year of dog food varies by brand. (Note: To get the most accurate conversion rates, one would need to measure out cups in the bags of dog food, which are measured in pounds. We did not do this. Instead, we assumed that four cups of dog food equal one pound.)
Ol’ Roy High Performance
One 50-pound bag costs $23.88 at Walmart (at the time this piece was written). That will give you about 200 cups of dry food. For two cups a day, you’ll need about four bags of Ol’ Roy each year.
Annual total: About $95
Pedigree Large Breed Nutrition
A 36-pound bag costs $20 at Walmart. To feed your dog two cups a day, you’ll need five bags a year.
Annual total: About $100
Purina Beneful Healthy Weight
A 31-pound bag costs $24.60 at Walmart and will give you about 124 cups of dog food, which works out to about six bags a year.
Annual total: About $148 The bottom line
There’s a wide variation in prices of dog food, and many contain similar nutritional value. Start your dog on inexpensive brands, buy in bulk and avoid buying pet food online. Also, don’t feel the need to feed your dog the filet mignon of dog foods when he’ll eat the ground beef. Your dog will love you no matter what you feed him.

Keep dog food costs down

According to a 2011 Consumer Reports study, dog food can average $36 a month. It is the biggest ongoing cost of owning a dog.

But you can save money on this expense if you’re using coupons, buying in bulk and, most important, buying less-expensive food.

Before you adopt. Pet food is an ongoing expense that you’re likely to have for a decade. Dogs are creatures of habit, eating what they’ve eaten before, so the foods you buy early in your dog’s life matter. So start your dog on store brands or moderately priced varieties. If you start it on the premium brands, it’s not going to willingly switch to lesser varieties.

Buy from big-box stores. Consumer Reports sent secret shoppers to 21 retailers and found that Target and Walmart often have the lowest prices on dog food, while supermarkets and specialty pet stores – including such retailers as Petco and PetSmart – tend to have higher prices. Also, Costco and other warehouse clubs tend to have great deals on dog food.

Don’t shop online. Consumer Reports determined that prices online were much higher. Its 2011 study found that online sites were 50 percent higher, before shipping costs. Skip the convenience of online shopping and just pick up the 50-pound bag yourself.