10 Easy Ways to Save Money on Dog Food
Want to get the best deal on your best pal's food? Here's how.
Yvonne Villasenor is a freelance writer and animal lover who just so happens to be allergic to cats and dogs. (That doesn't stop her from cuddling with them!) When Yvonne's not working, you can find her lounging with her charming Chihuahuas, weightlifting, or wandering around Halloween stores.
There's no better feeling than constantly spoiling our BFFs with pup cups, new toys, and "just because" gifts. However, pet expenses, especially food, can quickly add up and may cause us to avoid checking our bank account balances. Learning how to save money on dog food can help us budget for our dogs' care—and of course, tokens of appreciation.
"The price you pay for food will depend on the size of your dog and the type of diet you want to offer," says Linda Simon, DVM, MVB, and MRCVS, and veterinarian at Senior Tail Waggers. "Those with raw or premium ingredients tend to be more costly, while kibble is the most cost-efficient. As a rough guideline, [food for] smaller dogs can cost from $35 a month, while larger dogs can cost from $60 per month."
Here are 10 easy ways to save money on dog food each month.
This is where downloading your favorite pet store's app or signing up for their mailing list comes in handy. Get the latest updates to learn when there might be discounts and flash sales so you're bound to find a steal of a deal. (You can count on retailers having seasonal and holiday sales.)
The cost of dog food per pound decreases the bigger the bag you buy. Sure, the smaller bags cost less in the short term, but if your dog goes through food at a certain rate or you have multiple dogs, it ends up being cheaper in the long run when you buy the larger bag.
When we have our go-to place to purchase pet food, it may not be on our radar that it's actually cheaper elsewhere. If your dog's food is available at Target, Walmart, or the grocery store, check the price there since there's a chance it might cost less. You can also use a browser extension, such as Honey or Rakuten, to help automatically find the lowest price when shopping online (and even earn some cash back).
Notice your dog's food costs less on a retailer's website than in-store? Ask for a price match! This can help save some money that can go toward other supplies or necessities.
PetSmart, for example, will not only price match if a product is cheaper on their website but also if the product is available at a lower price at a competitor's store. For more information, read their price match guarantee.
Much like how buying bigger bags of dog food is more economical, so is buying in bulk. (There's a reason why we love Costco deals so much.) Stocking up on your dog's favorite food can save you time and money.
Be sure to store your dog's food in an airtight storage container to keep it fresher for longer.
Most retailers offer discounts if you opt for repeat deliveries on essentials like dog food, treats, and supplements. With auto deliveries, you can manage how often your dog food gets shipped and can skip a delivery or cancel it altogether if needed.
Here are a few auto-delivery discounts currently offered by retailers:
Whether it's Chewy, Petco, PetSmart, or another one of your favorite pet retailers, being a loyal customer can help save a substantial amount of money by earning points with every purchase. Plus, there are plenty of opportunities to multiply points—meaning, you can use your point balance to get a discount on a future purchase even faster.
Switching your dog's treats to a more affordable—and just as tasty—option can lower overall food expenses. You can also make your own treats with recipes that require just a few simple ingredients you probably already have at home, such as sweet potato dog treats, chicken bacon dog biscuits, or blueberry banana frozen yogurt.
If your dog doesn't have a special diet, switching to cheaper food could save you a lot of money and be just as nutritious. Simon recommends pet parents feed the best diet they can reasonably afford so they also have money for other pet care expenses, like grooming and veterinary care.
"All diets that follow the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommendations will be nutritionally complete and will provide what your pet needs. This is even true if the diet is very cheap," she says. "Ideally, we'd stick to diets that have protein sources, like fish or meat, as the first ingredient. It is best when these ingredients are specified, rather than just being listed as 'meat and bone meal.' We should steer clear of foods that contain artificial colors and flavorings."
Depending on how many dogs you have and how big they are, it might be more cost-efficient to buy the ingredients and cook their food at home instead of buying dog food from the store. Being your dog's personal chef has its advantages, such as knowing exactly what they're eating and shopping around for the best prices on ingredients. If you decide to go the home-cooked route, be sure to use a recipe that is complete and balanced—and always talk with your veterinarian first.
In some cases, it might be more affordable to cook your dog's food at home, such as if you have one small dog. However, Simon says that depending on the ingredients used, making your dog's food at home could end up actually being more expensive than store-bought food—and not to mention, far more time-consuming.
"As well as sourcing all the ingredients, vitamins, and supplements, owners need to pay for the cost of the food being cooked and need to store or freeze it, too," she says. "Vets strongly recommend that owners consult a nutritionist to help them design the recipe to avoid nutritional deficiencies. This can cost $150–300." After this initial consultation, you could reap the benefits in savings depending on the cost of ingredients in the recipes.
For these reasons, Simon says she rarely advises that her clients make their own dog food since it can be challenging to get right, along with the fact that most homemade diets lack nutrients, like calcium and iodine. She adds that cooking your dog's food may be appropriate in certain cases if your dog has a food allergy or sensitivity, or if they've always been fed human-grade dog food and refuse all other dog foods.
Work with your vet to determine the best feeding plan for your dog, and they might even have some tips on how to lower food costs.PetSmart:Petco:Chewy:Amazon: