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10 ways to save on pet supplies

Your furry friends can cost big bucks. Here's how to save on the basics.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 3, 2012 11:08AM

It's impossible to put a price on a pet's love and companionship. The price of that pet's kibble, litter and squeaky toys can be surprisingly steep, however.

You should never skimp on a furry friend's care, but that doesn't mean you should pay retail, either.

What's a companion human to do?

The same sorts of frugal hacks that keep your own costs down also apply to basic pet supplies. Here are 10 ways to get started.

Paying less

1. Order food and supplies online.
A site called offers free two-day shipping (except in Alaska and Hawaii) for orders more than $49. If your order includes something from one of the company's sister sites, such as or, you can get free shipping after $39.

Additionally, accepts manufacturers' coupons if you're willing to mail them in ahead of your order; see the site for more details.

Logo: Dog (Russell Glenister/image100/Corbis)2. Use cash-back shopping. You'll get a rebate of 1% if you access through a cash-back shopping site like Extrabux, FatWallet or Mr. Rebates (see "Get paid to buy stuff"). These and other sites offer rebates of 3% to 8% for orders from companies such as Petco, PetSmart, Pet Food Direct and Pet Street Mall. Cash-back sites also have their own online coupons.

3. Use discount gift cards.
Gift cards for Petco and PetSmart can be found at discounts of 10% to 17% and used like cash, either at local stores or when ordering online. If the best deal for those cards happens to be through, you can get 1.5% cash back if you buy through Extrabux. (For more information, see "Get gift cards below face value.")

Note: If you use a discounted gift card when ordering from Petco or PetSmart through a cash-back shopping site, your order may be reduced or even negated. (Check the retailer's rules.) However, if the gift card was bought at decent discount and covers most or all of the purchase, it beats out a 2% to 8% rebate.


4. Buy pet meds online. Heartworm, flea and other medications can be bought at discount from sites like 1-800-PetMeds, Entirely Pets and National Pet Pharmacy, which offer coupons and/or free shipping.

Other frugal options

5. Shop at warehouse clubs. If there's no big-box pet store nearby and you don't want to/can't order online, buy litter and kibble in bulk at a Costco or Sam's Club. The annual savings will likely cover the membership fee, especially if a supermarket is the only other option. Watch for coupons.

6. Watch for coupons.
Manufacturer coupons show up in the Sunday inserts. Regional pet store ads show up in newspaper ads and Valpak mailers, or on their websites.

7. Go secondhand. Thrift stores, yard sales, even 3x5 card ads on supermarket bulletin boards might turn up the dog dish, kitty condo or aquarium of your dreams. Bonus points if you visit an SPCA or pet-rescue thrift store.

8. Look for freebies.
Two obvious possibilities are the Freecycle Network and the "free stuff" section of Craigslist. Or put the word out that you're looking for a doghouse or a bird cage; someone might be ready to get rid of what you need.

9. Do it yourself.
After paying for a nail clipping at the vet's, my sister bought a set of clippers and does the dog's feet herself. Some people bathe and/or groom their pets at home instead of farming out such chores or visiting a "dog wash." Not every person (or every pet) is cut out for the DIY approach, of course.

10. Declare a moratorium on pet toys. You probably already have enough.

How do you save money on pet basics?

More on MSN Money:

Oct 3, 2012 1:33PM
My English Mastiff has severe allergies and is on special food. The big-box pet store kept raising their prices and $60 every 2 weeks was straining my budget. I asked at the local feed store and it's way cheaper to have them special order it for me. I'm saving $15 off every bag of food and I'm supporting a local family-owned business.
Oct 5, 2012 12:49PM
avatar prices are substantially higher for Blue Buffalo dog food.
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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.


Donna Freedman

Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.