Where to Buy Dog Food to Save Money

The savings offered by rewards programs can really add up over the course of a year.

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If you have a big dog, more than one medium or large dog, or, like me, you sometimes foster for a shelter or rescue group, it makes sense to reduce your food and other dog-care supplies by taking advantage of any savings program offered by the retailers you buy from. 

While the savings are sometimes just a dollar here and a dollar there, if you consistently use every money-saving option available to you, by the end of the year, your savings can add up to as much as an annual wellness visit to your vet, complete with blood tests! It’s well worth the minor trouble it takes to register for these savings.

Shop For Dog Food Locally When You Can

I am a huge proponent of shopping at local, independent pet supply stores whenever possible. Independent store owners and workers are usually knowledgeable and passionate about helping their clients find the best and most appropriate foods for their dogs – and they tend to be discerning, early adopters of new, novel, local, and top-quality products that are not sold in chain pet stores or online. 

I encourage dog owners to seek out stores that offer solid support and good advice along with their top-quality foods – but I also know that stores like this don’t exist in every town. (I know, because I live in a town without one!) 

If you are lucky enough to have such stores in your area, ask if the store offers any sort of “frequent buyer” or membership club discounts. If they don’t, let them know why you’re asking, and, if they’re interested, explain your situation and hopes for reducing the cost of feeding your dog the very best!

If You Lack Local Options for Buying Dog Food

If, however, you live where there are no such stores, or you are on a tight budget, buying better-quality foods at a chain pet supply stores that offer free shipping, membership discounts, and rewards programs can be a good way to save.

Most of the chain pet supply stores offer similar types of benefits and discount programs, but the chain with the most to offer is…

Petco. Petco currently offers a 10% discount off any order over $50 when you buy online and pick it up in the store. All orders of more than $35 can be shipped to your home at no charge.

Petco also offers a membership club, Petco Pals. All eligible Petco purchases, whether bought online or in a store, earn points at the rate of $1 spent = 1 point. The member earns a $5 off reward for every 167 points. One catch is that the rewards revert to zero is your account is not used for any purchases in 90 days.

If you sign up for “repeat delivery” – a subscription plan for your dog’s food, albeit one that you can change or cancel at any time without penalty – you will receive 35% off your first order. All future orders will be discounted by 5%. A bag of the food I’ve been feeding my foster puppies ordinarily costs $54.99, but if I bought it by subscription, I’d pay $52.24 ($2.75 in savings). 

Occasionally, the Petco website or app will offer additional savings if you buy more than one of the item you are considering. For example, the site currently lists a pet seat belt extender for $11.99, but says if you buy two, they will be sold at 30% off ($16.79 instead of $23.98). Check the “monthly offers” page for particularly good deals. I’ve found great pet beds on sale for $20, marked down from $40 and more.

The chain also offers a Petco branded credit card that gives you two points for every dollar you spend using the card at Petco (online or in a store), two points for every $3 spent using the card in grocery stores, and1 point for every dollar spent using the card elsewhere. You can get 20% off your first purchase at Petco using your new card.

The biggest benefit Petco offers – and one I haven’t found elsewhere – is available only through its phone app: In an attempt to drive consumers to the app, Petco gives you a free bag of dog (or cat) food for every seven bags (of greater or equal value) that you buy using the app. As a person who sits at a desktop computer most days, I’ve had a hard time remembering to order food using the app instead of the computer I’m already using, but when I can remember, it’s well worth the trouble. Of course, people who are more accustomed to using their phone apps for their coffee and grocery orders will have less trouble earning this perk! 

Petsmart. The Petsmart membership program is called Treats. Members earn Treats points for Petsmart purchases, at a rate of eight points per dollar spent in Petsmart stores or online. You can redeem the points for discounts on any in-store or online Petsmart purchases, or donate points to Petsmart Charities. Treats members receive exclusive offers via email and advance notice of sales and in-store events.

Petsmart offers free shipping on all orders over $49. 

If you agree to receive marketing texts from the Petsmart Treats program, you will be rewarded upon sign-up with 1,000 Treats points, and receive exclusive offers and sales notifications via text.

Petsmart offers an “autoship” (subscription) service, and offers 35% savings on your first autoship order. You’ll save 5% on all future autoship purchases. You can change items, adjust shipping dates, or cancel the program at any time without penalty.

Pet Supplies Plus. If you enroll in Pet Supplies Plus Rewards program, you will earn five points for every dollar you spend in its stores or its online shop. You can earn “bonus points” for activities such as taking a poll, watching a video, or checking out an article all on your Member Dashboard. You can also earn free products from select brands after qualifying purchases. 

Members of the PSP Rewards program get early and esxclusive access to special events and giveaways. You can redeem your rewards points on purchases for discounts or donate your points to support animal shelters or charities. Unredeemed points expire one year after they are earned. Pet Supplies Plus offers an autoship program with free delivery on orders of more than $35, but these deliveries are limited to locations that are seven miles or less from a PSP store.

Cost-Cutting Do's and Don'ts

Never buy the least expensive dog foods. Look at the ingredients and then compare to the ingredients of more expensive foods; the difference should be apparent (but you can also see our dry food reviews, in our February issues, and canned food reviews in our October issues, for more information about what to look for in a good-quality food). 

When buying dry (or dehydrated or freeze-dried) food, buy large bags. The price per pound of food is lowest in large bags. The exception to this rule is if you are feeding just one dog, especially if the dog is small. The longer a bag is open, the more the fats will oxidize (grow rancid). If it takes more than about three  to four weeks to get through a bag of food, buy the next size down next time.

Join any membership program that reduces what you pay. None of the chain stores charge for their membership programs, and the savings are significant.

Check for in-store specials and promotions. 

When shopping at national chain stores, check the online price of anything you are interested in buying. Often, the online price is less than the in-store price. Ask the store to match their online price; they usually will.

low price dog food
Think about what sort of food you can buy that costs only $0.40 per pound. The ingredients are about as poor as you can imagine: Corn, meat and bone meal, wheat, soybean meal, wheat middlings, poultry by-product meal, and animal fat – yuck!

Other Types of Discount Programs for Dog Food

Online-only retailers also offer subscription programs with discounts. Chewy.com offers free shipping on all purchases over $49. Its autoship (subscription) program allows you to schedule deliveries of any products sold by Chewy and reduces the cost of anything you buy by 5%. The items or shipping dates can be changed with every order and the autoship program can be cancelled at any time.

Some pet food makers also offer frequent-buyer and subscription programs. Of course, the fresh- and frozen-food makers have made pre-scheduled ordering and direct-shipping a cornerstone of that pet-food niche. But even some makers of dry foods offer discounts to regular buyers of their products. 

10 COMMENTS

    • I love and miss living near a Petfood Express store. Any time I drive to Sacramento or the Bay Area, I load up on treats and supplies for this very reason. I buy the big bags of Stella & Chewy’s Meal Mixers (my secret weapon for training treats). They cost about $44 today (ouch! they were like $36 last year!). I love buying three and getting the 4th one free!

  1. Our local Agway carries mostly foods like Fromm. Fromm has a buy 12 get one free bag, and the Agway store gives a $5 off coupon for every $100 spent. It’s a family owned store and they bend over backwards for their customers.

    • Our Agway store here in southern VT is not customer friendly, and the dog food and bird seed are often stale. Glad you have a good one!

  2. Pet Food Express chain based in nor Cal does indeed have Buy 3 get one free which is terrific as they have premium brands. My terminally ill dog got Kiwi venison – he never lost his appetite😍🐾🐾

  3. Grocery Outlet Bargain Market often has excellent buys on quality dog food, but I always check the date on the bag. This independently owned chain is in the SF Bay Area and on up to Oregon, maybe wider.

  4. I am in my 80’s have 3 large dogs. lifting bags at a store, then again into car then again into house is a llittle much. Delivery to front porch, pull into bedroom is good

  5. None of the chain and big box stores carry the freeze dried, raw, dog food brand which I feed my small dog. Although I live in Manhattan, NYC, I’ve never once seen the brand (The Simple Food Project,) in any of the small, independent, pet stores either, those independent stores greatly mark up the prices of the other items they sell though. So there’s no way I can buy locally and stay with what I believe to be this excellent brand, it made Susan Thixton’s rarefied, annual, approved list of commercial dog foods again this year. So I buy it directly from the manufacturer in WI. Fortunately my dog is weighs only 8lbs, so he only eats small meals, which makes this food affordable.

  6. Take a look at the store brand ( 4Health)
    Tractor Supply online. They have it made by Diamond who makes Taste of the Wild but being a store brand is much lower in price. Free shipping with minimum order of $49 to your front porch. The dragging to your bedroom is up to you. Some of mine get only as far as the entry foyer.

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