I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: caring for a dog is expensive. But I’ve said this too—it doesn’t need to be. There are many ways to lessen the financial burden of pet ownership, and buying food is one. Here, I describe some of the ways (short of working at a pet store, that is!) that I’ve managed to save money on Dipper’s food.
Many pet food brands offer loyalty programs in exchange for sticking with their food. When you buy 12 bags of food, you receive the 13th for free! Pet stores will usually tell you whether a food has a loyalty program when you buy it for the first time, but if you’re looking for an entirely new food, it’s worth considering whether or not a brand has a loyalty program in your final decision. Often, loyalty programs are a marker of a quality food. They’re also a way for brands to encourage owners to shop at pet stores. You usually can’t participate in a loyalty program if you buy your food from Amazon or another online retailer.
For a small dog like Dipper, it takes about a year to earn his free 5 lb. bag of dog food. But loyalty programs pay off big time for owners with large or multiple dogs. Generally, larger bags of food have discounts built into their prices to encourage owners to make that big purchase. When you consistently buy 30 lb. bags of food through a loyalty program, you save twice!
You don’t have to be a crazy couponer to save a bit of money. I’m amazed by how often people unwittingly toss coupons already in their possession for a product they usually buy! Sometimes, all it takes is a second look at, or in, the packaging of your dog’s food. Many brands will package coupons for larger bags of food or a new product.
If you’re willing to dig a bit for coupons, brands will post manufacturer’s coupons on their own social media accounts. I saved a bundle by following Natural Balance on Facebook and redeeming their manufacturer’s coupons on top of my regular loyalty program at the store. For coupons, promotions, and important product updates, find your pet’s foods on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Store-sponsored sales are what most people think of when they try to save money, but you’ll rarely find your dog’s food on sale for 30 percent off. You’re more likely to find deals that encourage you to buy more than one item—for instance, buy two cans of food and get the third free. Like brands, pet stores sometimes post about such sales on social media. Philly’s own Walk it Like a Dog promotes it’s buy-one-get-one sales on Twitter, and Doggie Style Pets posts its monthly sales flyers on Instagram.
But many stores have such quantity-based sales on the regular. For instance, BONeJOUR Pet Supply offers a 10 percent discount when customers buy a case of canned dog food. Buying in bulk is always a bargain.
High-quality pet food pays off in many ways, as a healthier dog means less visits to the vet. By doing a little research, you can find more than just coupons—you can find a food that’s better for your pet and your budget.
After feeding Dipper one food for a year, I stumbled upon a similarly priced and formulated brand. Upon closer inspection, the new brand was more nutritious with an even lower suggested feeding portion than his previous food. By switching to a better brand (with a loyalty program, too!) I was able to save in the simplest way—by feeding him less.