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The arf-ful truth: That pricey dog food won't extend Fido's life

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Latest MoneyWatch headlines 01:07

Americans are crazy about their pets, so it's natural we want to keep them alive as long as possible. That seems to be what Mars PetCare U.S. was depending on in marketing its pricey Eukanuba brand of dog food, which the company said could extend a canine's life by several years.

But that claim is false, the Federal Trade Commission said Thursday in announcing that Mars Petcare had settled charges of false advertising related to Eukanuba, which ranges in price from $13.99 to $57.99.

Mars Petcare, one of the country's largest makers of dry pet food, ran a 2015 ad campaign for Eukanuba on TV, online and in print publications citing a 10-year scientific study that purportedly showed the product could extend dogs' lifespan by 30 percent or more. The ads also pointed to a number of dogs, including three Labrador retrievers named "Iowa," "Utah" and "Bunny," that the company said were thriving well beyond the breed's average 12-year lifespan.

"What we observed was astonishing," the company said in its ads, according to the FTC.

Still from a 2015 TV and online video commercial for Mars Petcare's Eukanuba dog food that the Federal Trade Commission is calling false advertising. Federal Trade Commission

The FTC said that, in fact, the study showed that dogs that were fed Eukanuba lived no longer than dogs of the same breed typically do.

"Two-thirds of all Americans have pets at home, and they spend billions of dollars to ensure that their pets are healthy and well-fed," said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement. "Pet owners count on ads to be truthful and not to misrepresent health-related benefits. In this case, Mars Petcare simply did not have the evidence to back up the life-extending claims it made about its Eukanuba dog food."

Mars PetCare did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Under the settlement, the company is barred from claiming that Eukanuba or any other of its pet food products can extend a dog's life.

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