14 Clever Ways to Save Hundreds of Dollars on Dog Food
by Jessi Larson
Food is the biggest lifetime expense you’ll incur as a dog owner. And with all the research coming out about food ingredients and how they affect a dog’s well being, consumers need to pay closer attention to what they’re feeding their furballs now more than ever. Luckily we’ve compiled many tips and tricks to help your dog eat well for less.
1. Measure that kibble
To keep your dog and your budget healthy, always measure the amount of food you serve your dog. It’s easy to accidentally overserve your dog when you don’t have a set way to gauge the quantity. But this can pack the pounds on your dog and increase your food budget without you even realizing it.
2. Buy in bulk
When it comes to dog food, it pays to buy in bulk. As long as you’re familiar with the brand and know it’s right for your dog, this is a smart strategy. You’ll get a better deal per ounce and save time and gas money running back and forth to the store.
3. Get case discounts
Along the lines of buying in bulk, most stores offer a discount if you buy a case of any single item rather than buying the items individually from the shelf. On average, the discount can range from 5-15%. This isn’t widely advertised, so check with your preferred retailer directly to see what they offer.
4. Store food properly
To ensure food lasts its entire shelf life, be sure to store it properly, especially if you buy in bulk as recommended above. Once the bag is open, either fasten the top with some sort of clip or transfer the food into an airtight container. Not only with the food last longer, you’ll ensure your dog doesn’t help himself to more and unwanted critters like mice won’t creep in.
5. Join the frequent buyer’s club
Many retailers offer deals where if you buy a certain amount of dog food, say 10 bags for example, you’ll get the next one for free. Take advantage of this! We buy our dog’s food at a Gander Mountain, a big box outdoor specialty store. They encouraged us to sign up for their frequent buyer club to get our 11th bag free. Every time we checked out, they added that bag to our tally. They had hundreds of people in their frequent buyer’s club for that store alone.
About seven months later the time had come for us to redeem our freebie – a $50 bag of food at absolutely no cost to us. “I’m really sorry,” the cashier said to us. “I don’t know how to ring up this bag because I’ve never had anyone reach this point before.”
She summoned to another employee who didn’t know how either. She kept looking for someone to help. Finally, she found a manager who knew what to do. “Thanks for your patience,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of people who actually redeem a free bag.”
I was shocked. Dogs need a consistent brand of food, so why not shop at the same place and get bags for free? With this system, we save $100 a year purchasing something we have to buy anyway.
6. Buy the store brand
We’re all aware that grocers offer generic store options of popular items like sugar, flour, cereal and
coffee. These private-label products are always cheaper than their brand-name equivalents but similar
in quality. Did you know that there are also privatel abel options for dog food?
Examples include Costco’s Kirkland Signature, Safeway’s store brand, Walmart’s Ol’ Roy and PetSmart’s Grreat Choice – all of which are cheaper than the brand name options.
7. Get cash back
If you have a credit card that offers cash back savings, use it to buy pet food. You have to buy the food anyway, so earn some money in the process. Just make sure to pay your full bill at the end of the month, or you won’t be saving in the long run.
8. Autoship your dog’s food and save
If you’re confident in your dog’s brand of food dog and know how much he/she goes through each month, autoshipping is a smart option. A number of large online retailers like Amazon.com and PetFoodDirect.com allow you to set up autoshipments of your dog’s food every 30 or 60 days. Not only does this save you the headache of running to the store, you can also save up to 30% off the food in the process.
9. Sometimes online isn’t cheaper
Earlier we told you to look out for bricks and mortar stores and the added expense that comes with purchasing products from there versus online. This is a smart choice most of the time, however, beware of the added expense of shipping heavy products like dog food. Many online stores offer reasonable shipping regardless of weight, but watch out for those that charge per pound for shipping. You’ll end of paying more for shipping than the food!
10. Take advantage of rebates
Manufacturers know what they’re doing when they offer rebates on their products. The premise sounds simple. “Get a $10 rebate when you buy a bag of our dog food priced at $24.99.” Seems like a great deal, right? Well, according to the Consumer Union, 60% of shoppers don’t ever redeem their rebate after purchasing a product because they’re too lazy, forgetful or busy to apply for rebates they’ve earned. Don’t fall into this trap. Yes, it takes a little bit of extra time to fill out the paperwork, but you’ll be rewarded with extra dough for your effort. And if the rebate paperwork seems too complicated for what you’d get back, don’t purchase the product in the first place unless you would have anyway.
11. Ask your vet for samples
When you’re at your vet’s office, don’t be shy about asking if they have any samples lying around. Manufacturers routinely ship boxes of samples to veterinarian offices with the hope that they’ll share the samples with customers, who then go on to purchase their products.
When your dog is in the puppy stage, it’s a great way to test out different types of dog foods without having to invest in an entire bag, which can add up very quickly.
12. Shop at warehouse clubs
Membership clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club are great for discounts on household products, especially pet supplies. Yearly memberships typically range between $40-50 but you’ll easily make that back in supplies for your dog alone. Tack on food, snacks, beverages, cleaning supplies and other items you need, and you’re sure to save big bucks.
As an example, I buy a three-box pack of doggy Dentastix for only $14.99 at Costco. A single box costs $9.99 regularly, so this is quite the steal. With my Costco discount, both my dog’s teeth and my wallet stay healthy!
13. Don’t let wet food spoil
To get the most out of wet dog food, store the cans in a cool environment and always check the expiration date. If you open a can and have leftovers, empty it into an airtight container. With this, you’ll be able to store it for up to three days.
14. Get your doggy to slow down and enjoy the food
Many dogs, especially the big ones, are tempted to rush through their meals and eat as quickly as possible. Just like with humans, this means they don’t enjoy the food as they should and, more importantly, it doesn’t digest properly which can lead to an upset stomach and even serious gastrointestinal issues.
When Toby was a puppy, he’d rush through breakfast, only to throw it up shortly after and be hungry again.
To get your dog to make the most out of mealtime and properly intake their food, try these tricks:
- Flip the food bowl upside down and spread the food around the ring in the center. Your dog will have to circle around and pick his head up to shift to the other side, forcing him to slow down and enjoy the food.
- Split up the food in a cupcake pan. He’ll have to come up for air between sections.
- Divide the dog food into several small bowls so he can’t chow it all down at once.
- Place a tennis ball or another large item in the bowl so he’ll have to eat around it.
- Raise the height of the dog bowl. Place it on a box or stepping stool so your dog doesn’t eat too fast and is comfortable. This will also decrease the amount of air swallowed and position his head up to make burping air easier.
Do you have ways to save money on dog food while still providing high-quality nutrition? We want to know!