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Owning a pet is one of the best, most rewarding responsibilities, but it takes a lot of time and resources to raise a furry family member. Between pet supplies, toys, vet bills, and food, animals can be a costly investment.
You might be wondering how you can save on dog or cat food. You’re not alone. Pet food can be one of the highest regular expenses you have when owning a pet. Luckily, we have a guide to help you get a great deal on your next purchase of car or dog food.

How much should you spend on dog/cat food?

white dog with dog food

Credit: Unsplash

According to the 2021-2022 American Pet Products Association Pet Owner Survey, pet owners spend $287 on dog food per year and $254 on cat food per year.
Of course, these figures vary depending on your pet’s size, caloric needs, and dietary restrictions. Some pets require specialty food if they have a sensitive stomach or if they experience allergies to specific ingredients in common dog foods.

Ways to Save Money on Pet Food for Dog or Cat

There are a few things you can do when trying to save money on dog or cat food. Here are some of our favorite cost-saving tricks.

1. Buy in Bulk

dog eating food off floor

Credit: Pixabay

If you have the storage space and can afford to invest in more than one bag of pet food, it can be beneficial to buy in bulk.
Some of the best places to buy dog food in bulk include:

  • Club Warehouse Stores: If you have a Costco or Sam’s Club membership, buying in bulk is easy. Both Sam’s Club and Costco carry a variety of the top pet food brands in large quantities at reasonable prices.
  • Amazon also offers countless pet food brands in bulk orders at cheaper prices than your local pet store.
  • Chewy carries a wide selection of popular pet food brands, and you can even score a discount by using their Autoship program.

Not a member of Sam’s Club or Costco? No worries. Sam’s Club is essentially offering a “free” membership deal right now. If you don’t have a warehouse club membership, here are some ways you can shop at Costco without a membership, or at Sam’s Club as a non-member.

New Members Can Join Sam’s Club for “Free”

The key to buying in bulk is storing the extra food in an ideal location so it maintains its freshness until it’s used:

  • Pet food should be stored in a dry, dark space where small wild animals or critters can’t get into it.
  • This means your garage is likely not the best spot for food storage.
  • Try making space in a closet, pantry, or crawl space.
  • Purchasing an airtight container big enough to store extra food is also an excellent idea for maintaining food freshness.

2. Shop Online

When shopping online, it’s easy to compare prices within minutes and choose the cheapest option before ordering. Oftentimes, you can find cheaper prices on almost any product you need to buy if you search online. Pet food is no different.
Some places for great deals on pet food include:

The best part about shopping online is the convenience of pet food arriving straight to your front door. No need to haul a heavy bag of food through the pet store or lift it into and out of your car.

3. Use Autoship, Auto Subscribe or Join a Subscription

Autoship pet food from

Credit: Chewy

Not only is shopping online convenient and cheaper, but you can sign up for an auto subscription on your pet’s favorite food so you don’t need to go through the process of rebuying each time you’re running low.
Websites like Amazon and Chewy offer subscription and auto-ship options that offer even greater savings than a one-time purchase.

  • Chewy is currently offering 35% off your first auto-ship order, plus 5% off future orders. Set the frequency to match your pet’s consumption rate so you never run out of food again. This option helps you save money without needing the storage space to house extra pet food. You can also choose to change or cancel your subscription at any time without any penalty fees.
  • Amazon works similarly in that it offers 5% off subscription orders and allows you to set the frequency of your delivery from once every two weeks to once every six months. You can also change or cancel this subscription at any time. If you order more than five products in one auto-delivery order to one address, you could earn as much as 15% off your order.

Beyond Chewy and Amazon, chain pet stores and pet food brands also offer savings on auto subscriptions if you have a membership with any pet food brand or pet store.

4. Use Slickdeals for Cash Back

Slickdeals offers cash back for purchases from many retailers, including Target. Simply install the Slickdeals extension to your web browser and get instant cashback when you purchase qualifying products such as pet food. This extension automatically applies coupons and finds the best deals for the product you’re searching for. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Download the Slickdeals Extension

5. Set a Deal Alert

You can also set up a deal alert that informs you about when your favorite pet food brand goes on sale. Don’t waste time checking websites every day for sales. Simply sign up and you’ll receive notifications when those deals become available. That way you’ll never miss out on a deal.

6. Buy Generic Brands

cat licking lips after eating

Credit: Unsplash

Much like any food product, name brands cost more than their generic brand counterpart. If you need to save money, skip the name-brand foods and opt for a high-quality generic brand like Costco’s Kirkland brand, Safeway’s store brand, or Walmart’s Ol’ Roy brand.

7. Use Rebates and Coupons

Always keep your eyes peeled for rebates or coupons on your pet’s favorite food. You can find deals in your local store’s weekly ads, website-exclusive deals, on special deal and coupon websites, or in mailers. If you score a rebate from the pet food manufacturer, make sure you redeem it to save some extra money.

8. Avoid Organic

Unless your vet recommends a special, higher-quality food due to your pet’s sensitive stomach, allergies, or health issue, avoid buying organic or another fancy style of pet food. Specialty pet foods can be extremely expensive and burn a hole in your wallet before you know it.

9. Don’t Let Wet Food Spoil

If your pet eats wet food versus dry food, make sure you’re storing the food properly and using it in a timely manner so it doesn’t spoil. Nothing is worse than having to throw out a brand new container of wet pet food because you didn’t use it before its expiration date or let it spoil due to a poor storage environment.

10. Sign Up for Loyalty Programs or Newsletters

Many stores will have their own loyalty programs where you can score additional discounts on orders, or a newsletter program that will notify you when there is a special sale or deal on dog food. This is a great way to save if you’re a loyal shopper at a specific store or want to stay updated on the latest sales without checking a store’s website frequently.
PetSmart has a Treats program for rewards and Petco has their Pals Rewards program for its members. Check out your favorite store to see if they have a loyalty membership program.

Should I make my own pet food?

homemade pet food

Credit: iStock

Some pet owners opt to cook for their pets rather than buy manufactured food. We don’t recommend this if you’re trying to save money because buying ingredients for your pet’s ideal high protein, high fat diet from your grocery store will likely be more expensive than buying bagged food.
But we understand the appeal. If you make your pet’s food yourself, you know exactly what’s going in their food and the quality of the products. However, unless you add a substantial amount of fillers like rice, it won’t be cost-effective and your pet won’t get all the wonderful, energy-producing nutrients they need.
Instead, you can use home-cooked pet food as a topper to supplement your pet’s ordinary dry food if you’re passionate about implementing fresh foods in their diet.

Having Pets Can Be Affordable

dod watching cat eat

Credit: Unsplash

Now that you know the tricks to saving money on pet food — from buying in bulk to shopping around for the best deals online — feeding your furry loved one can be affordable if you follow the right tips and know the right places to shop.


Slickdeals Staff

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