Deals for Pooch and Kitty

Man's best friend can also be one of man's biggest expenses. Whether yours is a dog or cat, buying their gear can be a major drain on the wallet. So I went in search of the best deals on basic pet supplies. I visited six stores and a few Web sites to see who had the best deals on dog and cat food, as well as toys, collars and leashes and kitty litter.

As much as I love to support small mom and pop shops, I limited my research to stores most people in the region would have access to. But please let us know if your neighborhood pet supply store has some great deals. I went to Petco, PetSmart, Target, Kmart, Giant and Shoppers Food Warehouse and then compared their prices to online stores. By the end of the day I smelled like dog food and had kitty litter on my shoes, but I now know where to shop. Here's what I found:

-You'll get the best variety of stuff at stores like Petco and PetSmart but you'll also pay the highest prices even if you use their loyalty cards. The Iams dog food that I buy for my pooch was a whole $2 cheaper at Shoppers Food Warehouse for the same size bag at Petco and PetSmart. But the grocery store has a limited selection so you risk not even being able to find some basic brands of dog and cat food there. The Shoppers Food Warehouse I went to only had one small bag of the food I buy.

-PetSmart was cheaper than Petco across the board. For example, Purina Cat Chow at PetSmart was $2 cheaper for the same-size bag at Petco. Science Diet cat food at PetSmart was also $6 lower on a 10-pound bag than Petco's prices on the same size bag. Even some of the dog toys were $1 or $2 cheaper at PetSmart. Its Web site had some deals too, if you don't mind paying shipping costs.

-For a non-mega pet store, Target had the better deals on most items, although Giant and Shoppers Food Warehouse had comparable prices on dog and cat food. Some of Target's best deals were on kitty litter. It had a 28-pound bucket of Scoop Away litter for $10.99 compared to Petco's sale price of $13.04 and PetSmart's $12.99 price tag. A rubber Kong toy for dogs was also the same price at Target as other stores or $1 cheaper on certain sizes.

-You won't find any deals online. Or at least I didn't at Amazon.com, Jefferspet.com and PetFoodDirect.com. Petco's own Web site even had some higher prices than its own brick and mortar store. Have you found any online deals?

Where do you buy your pet supplies? Who has the best deals?

By Tania Anderson |  October 30, 2008; 12:00 AM ET General Interest , Pets
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Comments

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I have found PetSmart to have the best prices. They are a cleaner, brighter store than PetCo too. ScienceDiet dog food goes on sale there a lot. $5-$8 off the 30-40lb bags.

Posted by: LBH219 | October 30, 2008 8:53 AM

I have also found PetSmart to be cheaper than Petco. My older cat needs a couple of food supplements and they are both significantly less expensive at PetSmart. Canned cat food is much less expensive at PetSmart than at Safeway, especially if you wait for the sales. The only thing I buy at Petco is their store brand of cat litter, because they sell it in a refillable plastic bucket that you can refill in the store. I just paid 9.99 to refill a 30 lb bucket (with their card).

Posted by: saturdayschild | October 31, 2008 1:18 AM

If you are lucky enough to live in a town with a Trader Joe's store. Try them for pet food. In taste tests conducted un-scientifically on our kitchen floor our dogs preferred both their canned and dry food to major brands. They are cheaper to boot, or paw.

Posted by: johntesar | October 31, 2008 6:31 AM

Hi Tania,

I'm a Director with a new animal rescue in the area. Did you happen to come across any wholesalers of pet products like collars, leads, meds, etc.? We have a very tight budget because we just started up in October and every penny counts.

Gregg - Dogwood Sheltie Rescue
www.vadsr.org

Posted by: greggb57@gmail.com | October 31, 2008 8:05 AM

In pet food as in other things, you get what you pay for. I would never feed my animals anything that is sold at Kmart, Giant or Shopper's -- those are bottom-of-the-barrel foods for the most part that have high grain content (not recommended for carnivores such as dogs and cats), and meat not fit for human consumption. So to me a "great deal" involves a good price on food that's actually good for my animals.

Posted by: nunyo555 | October 31, 2008 8:37 AM

I prefer Petsmart to Petco as well. But, recently I have been buying cat food through the website Pet Food Direct. The prices are about the same, as Tania noted, but they regularly send me 20-22% discount coupons. When I get those, I stock up on wet and dry cat food. Since I live in the city and would have to make a special trip out to Petsmart to buy cat food, I decided it's more economical just to have it shipped to my house.

Posted by: ElDee | October 31, 2008 9:15 AM

We feed our dogs Wellness, one of the few dog foods that was not affected by the recall awhile back, and we've found that Petco has the best deal on it (although it's still shockingly expensive).

For treats, especially Greenies, I've found that dog.com is far and away the cheapest. I place a big order with them every few months. I'd buy Wellness through them, as well, but the shipping on that is quite high and there's a Petco just up the street from us.

Posted by: Lizzie3 | October 31, 2008 9:23 AM

Wow, ElDee, Pet Food Direct has Greenies for cheaper even than dog.com! Thanks for mentioning that!

Posted by: Lizzie3 | October 31, 2008 9:36 AM

Thanks for this. While we are thankful to live in a town that has resisted the allure of box stores, we wouldn't mind living a tad closer to a large pet supply store. As it is we have to make the choice to drive either to Memphis, TN (1.25 hours away) or Tupelo, MS (1 hour away) for Science Diet cat food in 20 lb. bags. Knowing that the Petsmart is generally cheaper for this food will certainly influence which direction we go.

Posted by: henrycat2003 | October 31, 2008 10:42 AM

Pet Valu has stores in a variety of suburbs throughout the Baltimore-Washington region. We've been very pleased with their selection and prices while feeding 2 cats and the occasional "foster dog."

-jbn

Posted by: euphline | October 31, 2008 11:53 AM

Petfooddirect.com has regular sales. I frequently get coupons from them for 20 to 25% off. While the shipping can add to the price quickly, with the coupons (and including shipping) I can usually at least meet, and sometimes beat the prices in the stores. With a 85 lb lab, its worth the convenience of not having to haul a 50lb bag of food around. UPS delivers to the front door.

Posted by: mdembski1 | October 31, 2008 11:58 AM

I shop online at Paws Choice(www.pawschoice.com) for dog and cat food. They have free shipping on orders over $75. Periodically they have sales that are less than brick and mortar stores, and sometimes have free shipping on orders less than $50. One way I have found to get the best price is to go to the website of the food you desire to purchase to find online and local stores that stock your food. I only purchase premium quality grain free foods, currently Orijen for cats, purchased at Paws Choice, and Taste of the Wild for the dogs, purchased at a local independent store. My animals are healthy and eat less. Which means less waste, less cat litter to buy. My local independent store sells Solid Gold less than Petco. Solid Gold is the only food our Petco sells that I would even consider feeding my pets.

Posted by: woodcarpenterlady | October 31, 2008 12:14 PM

If you're looking for wholesale pet care items I'd try www.petedge.com I've always had good luck with them. The shipping cost is kind of high, but they're wholesalers expecting to sell to mom and pop pet stores, so the more you order the better it is. I can get boxes of bones, chew toys and ropes for the same amount I'd spend on a few of each at retail. Same goes for leashes, leads and other essential items that a rescue would require.

Posted by: trappedindc | October 31, 2008 12:19 PM

I've found that although they aren't always the cheapest, Drs. Foster & Smith offers the best quality for pet beds, safe toys, etc. Also, their rawhides and other treats are made in the U.S. and are generally safer for your pets than are the ones sold in Petco, Petsmart, etc.

Posted by: MerlinsMom1 | October 31, 2008 12:30 PM

Depending on how smart your dog is, you might want to buy them a book. See

http://writingfrontier.com/2008/10/31/home-sweet-home/

Posted by: jheubusch | October 31, 2008 5:44 PM

For cat food and toys, I definitely second the vote for Drs. Foster and Smith, for prices and quality. Their prices are generally better than other places for the same items, or similar quality, though they tend to stock lots of high price brands. I also agree that Trader Joe's is a good place for the few pet supplies they carry.

That said, I'd like to put in a plug for the independent pet supply stores that are still in existence, and can't keep pace with the other places listed in terms of price, but are often great community members.

Posted by: macha1 | October 31, 2008 9:39 PM

While Greenpets on 14th St is not cheap per se, they have quality products. I save money by buying bulk 50 liter bags of Cedarific cat litter, which they order for me at no charge if they are out of stock. I also save money by not owning a car - they hand deliver two huge bags of litter to my door every few months. Drs. Foster and Smith is my online spot for other supplies like inexpensive flea meds and bulk mousies.

Posted by: MBinDC2 | October 31, 2008 10:21 PM

Sorry you poison your dog with Iams but I guess it is almsot better than Purina. Take a look at dog foods from Innova and check out this http://www.doggonehealthyonline.com/ for healthy dog food and treats for your dog.

Although a better quality food maybe more expensive you usually have to feed less and there is less waste and output.

Less scooping.

Purina, Iams , Science Diet are not the best foods out there for you pet.

Some dog foods still contain euthanized pets!

Posted by: omarthetentmaker | November 3, 2008 10:09 AM

We shop for dog food and treats at Pro Feed in Alexandria. As an independent retailer (3 locations) they aren't the cheapest, but i know that what i'm feeding my puppies is the best that i can. they have a great incentive program on food(buy 11, the 12th is free!) the employees love animals and really know their products. and i like chatting with the employees, that they know my name and i know theirs.

Posted by: irishviking | November 5, 2008 8:01 AM

We buy our dogs' food at Weber's Pet Supermarket. There are two locations, both on 50, one in Fairfax (11021 Lee Hwy) the other in Chantilly (14508A Lee Rd). Our dogs eat Regal Adult Bites, and Weber's is one of the few stores that sells Regal in the area. We actually started using Regal because the shelter where we got the dogs sent the dogs home with bags of Regal donated to the shelter by Weber's. If you buy 10 bags of Regal, and I think other foods, the 11th is free. The 33 pound bag of Regal Adult Bites is under $30 at Weber's.

Posted by: ahaberm | November 5, 2008 4:29 PM

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