Whether you own a dog, cat, or turtle, you can spend less money on pet food and still keep your pets well fed.
Here are the best tips I’ve found for saving money on pet food:
1. Tip #1: Get your pet food at a big-box store.
Websites and specialty stores are typically more expensive. For example, a Consumer Reports study found consumers can pay up to twice as much for the same food, depending on whether it’s purchased online (most expensive) or at a big-box chain. Much of the difference can be attributed to shipping costs.
Make your own comparisons. Check Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Target, and the others. Convert to the price per pound to determine the difference between getting pet food at those outlets and your other options. Normally, the big-box store will save money – although special offers and coupons can be an equalizer.
2. Tip #2: Buy the generic brand.
Branding and advertising can sucker you into paying considerably more for the same – sometimes even less nutritious – pet food. How do you know which is best? Do the same thing for pet food you do for your own food: read the label and compare the ingredients. You could be in for a big surprise!
3. Tip #3: Always check for coupons!
Get in the habit of searching for coupons before you go shopping. Sign up for deal alerts on Coupon Chief to make sure you don’t miss current coupon discounts at your favorite stores, online or off. You don’t have to go overboard on coupon clipping to save substantial money on expenses. Digital coupons make it easy to stay up on cost savings.
4. Tip #4: Buy pet food in bulk sizes.
You’ll want to pay attention to freshness, of course, and you’ll want to make sure your pet will eat the food you buy, but getting a 40-lb bag versus a 10-lb bag can save considerable money. That assumes dry food (75% of pet food purchase is), and it assumes the food will be used within 4-6 weeks of opening the bag.
Depending on the type of food you get (ingredients determine the length of freshness) and the usage rate, you might consider repackaging or freezing food to capture the savings on bulk without risking it might become stale.
5. Tip #5: Join the club!
Many retailers offer rewards programs or have special days when certain items will be discounted. Remember, too, some stores offer regular discounts to veterans, teachers, or other groups. You may be able to save 10% or more on every purchase just by claiming your special status!
6. Tip #6: Do your research when it comes to supplements.
Depending on diet and physical condition, it may be a good idea to give your pet nutritional supplements – or it may be an unnecessary expense. Don’t base your decision on advertising. Talk to your veterinarian, do your research, and use common sense. You may want to upgrade your food supply rather than pay for supplementation.
7. Tip #7: Feed your pet-less!
Obesity isn’t just rampant in humans, our pets are also feeling the strain of too much food. Don’t allow your pet to become obese. Obesity can lead to chronic issues like arthritis and diabetes.
8. Tip #8: Make your own pet food.
You may not want to prepare every meal your pet eats, and every question about diet should be discussed with the veterinarian, but supplementing your pet’s diet with acceptable, healthy food can cut down on the budget.
Don’t waste money on expensive treats. Instead, use fresh fruits and vegetables like blueberries, melon pieces, carrots, and broccoli. You can dry small slices of chicken or beef in the oven to make dehydrated treats your pet will love.
For instance, you and your dog would do well to have a bowl of oatmeal now and then. Do your research, and you’re sure to discover a few things easy and inexpensive to prepare.
Susan Hartzler is a lifelong dog lover, an award-winning writer and published author who has figured out a way to live her life to the fullest as a single woman, not conforming to the social norms of marriage and children.