You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you can definitely spend a lot more on buying Rover and Kitty some food. According to Statista, pet food sales are off the ledge, with US pet owners expecting to spend about $54 billion on pet food this year — more than double what was spent five years ago.
This revenue stream could rival the Mississippi River if things do not calm down. Sean Turner, chief technology officer and co-founder of Swiftly, told ConsumerAffairs that according to data he’s seen, pet food prices are up 11% since July. Grrrr …
Saving money on pet food comes with caution signs
If you’re a pet owner, you’re probably not too happy about this either. But what can you do?
While the internet is full of advice on how to save money on pet food, the one question ConsumerAffairs found missing was how pet owners can make budget-conscious decisions in the face of inflation without feeding potentially unhealthy pet food or putting their pets in danger?
To find the answers, we asked the experts to think about the topic. They had plenty of advice, starting with cutting food in the corners to save money:
Should pet owners rethink portion size to save money?
Dog owners are already getting poor marks for not following their pet food handling guidelines, but they may have become more careless in trying to stave off the cost of inflation by doing things like cutting back on portion sizes.
Thomas Duke, veterinary nutrition advocate and certified pet nutrition trainer at Noah Animal Hospitals, says that rather than trying to determine portion sizes yourself, you should ask your veterinarian about your pet’s daily energy requirements.
“Then, once that is known, you can choose the food you want to feed and divide the pet’s daily energy requirement by the number of calories in a cup of the preferred food to determine the approximate number of cups to be fed,” Dock said. “The pet owner must then monitor the pet’s weight and general body condition and adjust the amount fed to keep the pet at a lean body weight.”
Dr. Angie Krause, DVM, CVA, CCRT tells us there’s another concern when it comes to portion sizes.
“Excessive eating puts your pet’s health at risk. Obesity causes other diseases and infections in the body,” Krause said.
She added that it is important to work with your vet and understand the ideal weight for your pet. Just like humans, she says, calorie needs vary greatly between the two bodies.
How about mixing different types of pet food together – that might be a cost-saving procedure, right?
If you think you can mix bargain pet food with budget pet food to save a few bucks, a vet thinks it can, but you should be careful.
“Mixing pet food brands together is considered safe for pets as long as the pet is not allergic to any of the ingredients and the foods are appropriate for the pet’s life stage,” said Dr. Jennifer Sawyer, veterinarian of Pitfolk. ConsumerAffairs said.
“Most importantly, it is advisable to choose pet food brands approved by WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association). If a pet is on a medicated or prescription diet, it is not recommended to mix in other brands without approval from a veterinarian as this It can cause an underlying disease that is controlled with food to become unmanaged.”
How about giving the pet some “human” food?
For purists, feeding Fido some apple pie leftovers is beyond pale, but Sawyer says that if you do it the right way, it’s okay.
“Feeding a pet human food as fillers to save money on pet food can be done safely as long as enough pet food is fed to maintain the appropriate minerals and vitamins that a pet needs to stay healthy,” she said.
Doc agreed, adding a word of caution: “There are many human foods that can cause problems for pets, so always consult a vet before adding what’s on your plate to your pet’s bowl,” he said.
Is organic pet food worth the added cost?
Just like anything else “organic,” organic pet food is more expensive than non-organic foods. Sawyer says that if you’re going the organic route, you might want to rethink that a bit.
“There is no study data showing that organic foods provide a greater benefit to pets’ longevity or overall health when compared to non-organic pet foods,” she said.
Is buying online cheaper than going to the store?
It depends. Turner said that while the role of e-commerce in the pet food sales chain continues to grow, buying online often means higher costs to cover shipping or delivery.
However, Turner believes that the loyalty programs associated with the pet food retailer’s mobile app can lead to some savings because it incentivizes consumers with highly personalized offers that offer exclusive deals, discounts and rewards that can be redeemed while shopping.
Will going the recharge/subscription route save any money?
From ConsumerAffairs’ perspective, this might be the perfect time to go the pet food subscription route. There are many companies that have jumped on the people-food subscription bandwagon, trying to satisfy all the shaky tails people have taken during the pandemic.
The most well-known among these reviewers is ConsumerAffairs that gives good marks for better prices from stores – Chewy. The company claims that its “autoship” feature can save consumers up to 35% on eligible items.
Another company—Canidae—is giving pet owners a chance to save in another way: refillable pet food stations. It’s only available at Petco at the moment, but the company claims it’s saving big savings on buying its food in bulk, as well as saving tens of thousands of bags of non-recyclable pet food from landfills.
For example, four pounds of Canidae Pure kibble from a consumer refill station will save you more than $9 per bag instead of a regular pre-packed 4-pound bag.