One of the biggest costs associated with owning a dog is food. Some expenses are negotiable. Your dog will probably sleep just as comfortably on an old, folded down comforter as that expensive memory foam dog bed, but good food is a must.
To keep dogs happy and healthy, owners should provide food made from high-quality ingredients that meet the individual pet’s lifestyle requirements (for example, puppies need puppy food and overweight pets should follow calorie restricted diets). There is a “you get what you pay for” element with dog food, so higher quality foods tend to be more expensive. But, with just a little effort, owners can save a lot of money without compromising the health of their pets. That’s how.
Choose your dog food wisely
Dogs do best when they are on a consistent diet. People like variety in their food, but there is no benefit to constantly changing the type of food you feed your dog. This can also increase the risk of a dog becoming fussy, always waiting for the next tasty bite to come with tomorrow’s food.
Most dogs thrive when they eat high-quality, but not necessarily high-quality dog food. If you don’t eat organic, does your dog need to? And some manufacturers spend a great deal of money marketing niche products – for example, foods that are supposedly designed for particular breeds. You pay a premium for these formulations, but in all honesty, they are excessive for most people within the breed.
So look for a dog food that is moderately priced but still contains ingredients that sound like real food. Two brands that fall into this category are Iams and Purina One. These products also have the advantage of being widely available.
Comparison of purchases and coupons
Once you’ve found a food that works well for your dog, shop around. Prices can vary widely between retailers. Consider becoming a member of a wholesale operation like Costco or Sam’s Club. These companies usually let you enter their facilities as a guest so you can see what they offer. Walmart, Target, and Kmart also tend to have good prices on pet food, as do large pet retailers like Petsmart and Petco. In general, you will pay more for food at smaller pet boutiques, but they tend to offer a wider selection of premium or specialty pet foods. Be sure to sign up for the rewards programs offered by stores.
Be on the lookout for announcements posted by your local retailers; dog food is often on sale. And keep your eyes open for coupons. Online sites like retailmenot.com or couponcabin.com are a good way to keep up with current offers. Simply googling the name of dog food with the word “coupon” is another easy way to see what’s available. The manufacturer’s own website is another excellent resource. Many offer coupons to encourage people to try their products.
If you’ve found a great price on your dog’s food, stock up if you have the storage space. Most pet foods have a shelf life of about a year. Check the expiration date on the bag and buy whatever you think your pet will eat at the time. As a general rule of thumb, larger bags of food are much less expensive in weight and volume compared to smaller bags, and dry food is always cheaper than canned food.
Don’t forget the internet
While many of us use the internet to shop, shopping for pet food online is in its infancy. However, this can be a convenient and inexpensive way to obtain many of your pet supplies, including food.
Big price comparison sites like nextag.com and shopping.yahoo.com are a great way to find the lowest prices on food. Just type in the exact product you are looking for and voila, all the information you need will appear. However, be sure to compare apples to apples. Note that all prices are for the same food bag size, and don’t forget to add shipping costs for sites that don’t offer free shipping and taxes, if applicable.
Amazon.com offers a wide selection of pet food, as do major pet retailers petco.com and petsmart.com. Other options to consider include petfooddirect.com, petflow.com, 1800petmeds.com, and nationalpetpharmacy.com. If you are having trouble finding a website where you can order your dog’s food, go to the manufacturer’s website. Many have links to retailers that offer their food.
However, beware of websites that fly at night. Buy only from reputable retailers to ensure you receive high-quality products, not knockoffs. Websites should have a customer service phone number that is prominently displayed. Call and ask some questions. You just want to get an idea of their legitimacy and customer service. You can also view customer ratings on sites like Yelp.com or search for a business on the Better Business Bureau’s bbb.org website.
Some dogs require very specific diets to handle medical problems, and these products tend to be more expensive than typical dog foods. If your pet is on a prescribed diet, you can still shop around. You don’t have to buy the food directly from your vet; he or she must provide you with a written prescription upon request. Many of the websites listed above (for example, petfooddirect.com and nationalpetpharmacy.com) sell over-the-counter and prescription diets.
If you feed your dog a homemade diet, use the same cost-cutting techniques that you use when buying your own food. When the meat goes on sale, buy a lot of it and freeze it. Frozen vegetables can be used in place of fresh ones and can be stored for much longer periods of time. But don’t be tempted to buy low-quality ingredients or make unapproved substitutions for what would otherwise be a nutritionally balanced recipe. These types of changes can save money in the short term, but they often lead to health problems and expensive treatments in the long term.
In conclusion, you never want to skimp on your dog’s food, but there is nothing wrong with spending your money wisely.