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How to save money on pet food

Save on Pet Food

Did you know that there are over 12.5 million cats & dogs as pets in Canada?

We sure do love our pets, but these furry friends can be quite costly. One way to cut costs on pet care is by saving money on pet food.

Note: The focus here is not on which food is best, nutritionally, for your pet (that’s a personal choice that each pet owner has to make, and will depend on special dietary requirements as well as budget). These are general tips for saving money on pet food.

Consider store brands

There are many myths about pet food ingredients.

High prices on certain brands don’t necessarily mean that the food is of higher quality. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that by comparing ingredients, as well as prices and feeding guidelines, there are generic brands that are just as good (or better) as the more expensive brands.

Make your own

One alternative to commercial pet foods is to prepare your own at home. This can save you money as well as provide your pet with wholesome quality food.
Before trying this, be sure to do your research and speak to your veterinarian about specific recipes, serving sizes, etc. This is important to ensure that your pet gets a balanced diet that meets their nutritional requirements.

Dog food recipe: Homemade Dog Food
Cat food recipe: Homemade Cat Food

Buy in bulk

If you use coupons, watch for fantastic sales on pet food and then match your coupons with those sale prices. Always buy the smallest size bag (and as many of them as you can) of pet food possible when using coupons, as this is the best way to save the most amount of money.
If you don’t use coupons, or simply don’t have any for the pet food you regularly purchase, keep an eye out for sales and purchase the large bags when they are priced at their lowest. Store the extra food in large storage containers in a cool, dark place.

Shop around

Just like any kind of shopping, do your research and shop around for the best prices.
Most times, if the type of pet food that you are looking for is available at a major retailer or supermarket chain (such as Walmart or Real Canadian Superstore), it is going to be cheaper there than at a specialty pet store.

Coupons & samples

Another great way to save money on pet food is to search for and collect coupons for these items.
If your veterinarian insists on a certain type of pet food that can only be purchased in a specialty store or at the veterinarians’ office, be sure to ask for samples and any coupons or special offers that may be available. Also, ask what the issue is and if there are any alternative foods (that are cheaper) with similar ingredients.

Mix it up

If your pet is not picky and will accept a change in food every now and then (like our pup), alternating the brand of food, depending on the best deal available, can help save you some serious cash.
Please note that it is very important to introduce the new food gradually over a week or so, mixing it with the old food, to help avoid any issues.

Compare the serving size and not just unit price

Read pet food labels carefully. Not all pet food is created equal when it comes to the amount that your pet will need to eat each day. Most brands don’t have the same suggested amounts to meet your pet’s nutritional needs.

For example, one type of food may appear cheaper but it turns out not to be as much of a bargain when you see that it requires one more cup per day than another brand that appeared to be more expensive.

When it comes to the type of food (wet or dry), wet food is almost always going to cost more since it’s made up of a high percentage of water, which means you’ll end up needing more of it to feed your pet.

Don’t overfeed your pet

Feeding your pet too much not only costs you more in pet food, but it also leads to obesity (which in turn leads to more expensive trips to the vet).
Pay attention to the feeding guidelines for your pet’s weight, activity level, and age, and talk to your veterinarian about how much to feed your pet. Skip the treats, too (they’re the equivalent of feeding your kids junk food).
There are certainly ways to save money on pet food, but remember to always follow up with your veterinarian to make sure you are feeding your pet the correct food. Some pets cannot handle store brand or name brands and need specialty pet food instead. (One of our cats has kidney issues and is on special food from the vet.)

Most cats & dogs are able to eat whatever you give them, and if that’s the case for your pets, be sure to try out some of the tips above to save money on pet food.

How do you save money on food for your pets?


  1. Lesley B.

    My kids have been begging for a pet, so we just rescued a cat, and she’s 6 months old. Does anyone have any advice on what’s the best cat food for a low price? Does anyone have experience with an awesome store brand, maybe? Also, what’s the best litter for eliminating smells?

    • Julie

      Purina maxx is the best litter. Some store brands are good too. I usually add baking soda to the litter if I buy a store brand. Store brands can be really dusty though, I am not sure where you are from but I find the selection brand from food basics and metro to be all right.

  2. CM

    regardless of the brand, always check out ingredients of pet food. There should not be corn and such. Also, cats should be eating wet food for their health. Cats are not supposed to get their water from ‘drinking’ as much as from food and dry food leads to many health problems for cats. There are many good and well priced wet food options for cats. If you can find grain free, even better – personally i feed wellness (grain free) cans to my cats and buy the larger cans to make it cheaper (just refrigirate it after opening).

  3. Virginia

    what ingredients should and should not be in dog food?

  4. Mel

    For dogs, I’m not sure that I agree with the proposition that there are lots of non-name brand dog foods that are good. I think you would want to talk with your vet, and also with the staff at a good pet store (not Petsmart), about which dog foods outside of the premium range have good ingredients. It IS true that some of the high-priced name brands are full of corn and have beautiful packaging but not exceptional nutrition. But many of the low-priced ones at the supermarket are full of filler and other low quality ingredients and you will have poop all over your yard. This is your own pet and you don’t want to feed them garbage, any more than you would feed garbage to your family. Also, it is NOT a good idea to take samples of dog food and treats and feed these to your dog as the article recommends. Dogs’ stomachs get very upset by changes in diet. All changes of food have to be made gradually over a week or two. And making your own dogfood is something to be very careful about, since striking a nutritious balance is not easy without some trustworthy formula, and the ingredients can go bad in your fridge/freezer, or you could have salmonella poisoning from uncooked or undercooked meat.

  5. Kris

    It is not a good idea to be constantly switching brands. If you want to change brands, you need to do so gradually: add a little of the new to your current and increase the amount of the new while decreasing the old every few days. The process should be spread out over a couple of weeks until you’re only feeding the new brand. Sudden changes in food can lead to stomach upsets in cats and dogs.
    We feed our cats the Walmart brand, Special Kitty, and have done so for years.

  6. SeriousSally

    @Lesley B.-I have 2 cats and we use either Purina Maxx Scoop clumping litter or the Arm&Hammer Cat litter (clumping). I like these brands as they do keep the odours minimal and they are not nearly as “dusty” as some cheaper brands. Of course stock up when they’re on sale, I often price match these brands at Walmart since they carry both. It’s truly a labour of love, but I also diligently scoop out the boxes twice a day, in the morning and at bed time. If you leave the scooping too long it will eventually smell no matter what kind of litter you use, that stuff just can’t sit around for too long if you know what I mean 🙂

  7. Lesley B.

    Lol, thanks for the info, SeriousSally!!

  8. Betty

    Many, many years ago before Pet food companies started to sell pet food to the public, people fed their pets “scraps from the table” aka human food or table food & our pets were probably just as health or healthier than the ones that are now on pet food. While Growing up & also our own pets now that our parents are gone, we’ve had 4 big dogs lived to be 20 yrs. old, 4 cats that lived to be over 16 yrs. old by having a diet of “scraps off the table” or people food whichever term you prefer. Vets will always tell you that you shouldn’t feed your pets people food. I had an experience with a vet whereby when my cat was getting her annual physical, he commented on how well she was doing for a 10 yr. old cat & to keep doing whatever it was I was doing with her. You can imagine his horror when he found out that all that cat was eating was scraps off the table & she was perfectly fine. So of course, he’s trying to sell me his pricer, healthier version of what cats should eat. People will disagree with me but the proof is in the pudding: 8 or more pets that all lived well beyond what was the norm & basically died of old age

  9. Christina

    I buy a premium brand of cat food and even though it costs more to buy, I find the cats don’t eat as much. (They also don’t poop as much, and what they do, doesn’t stink as bad.) Feeding your animals brands like purina or tender vittles (or worse yet, no name or store brands) instead of premium brands is like feeding them junk food instead of a well balanced meal. Also, female cats tend to get crystals in their urine from cheap food.

  10. Linda

    I have two cats that are 3 1/2 years old. I have been feeding them food that is available from the Vet, but have tried to look for it in other stores as well (so far no luck). I had a cat previously to these two, and she lived to be 19 1/2 on cheap store brand food. I am finding that my two don’t eat as much of the Vet food, and that it is healthier for them than store bought which is akin to junk food. (So they say.) I get the canned food at the Vet’s also, but make a small can last 2-3 days for the both. If they ate more, they would have a problem in their tummies. They drink from the faucet in the bathroom (I won’t let them up on the counter in the kitchen) and they just love drinking from the tap.

    As for trying to save, I do try to find kitty litter on sale whenever possible (although sometimes I just go with what is available at the place I am at.) I also try to get their treats on sale. My girl kitty won’t eat table scraps, but my boy kitty is a bit of a food boy!

  11. CM

    btw, most vets are NOT properly informed about pet food and often recommend the few brands the know (i.e. their ‘vet’ brand) -check out the ingredients on those foods, they are horrible.

    We feed our dog raw food – the vet was a little surprised but has agreed that our dog is in excellent health and shape and she said that to just continue as we are doing.

    A good dog foor site I liked if you choose to feed kibble is it is not a site by one of the food brands, rather it is independent and analysis ingredients and protein/fat/carb contents in dog foodand lets you compare.

    i also have to secod what others have said – it is a VERY bad idea to feed your dog different kibble all the time. You may save a bit on dog food but your will end up paying a lot in vet bills down the road.

    Cassie, I like your site but I think this post has some poor information about pet food and could lead to people actually harming their pet’s health.

  12. Cathy

    I was gonna list the dog food analysis website but someone beat me to it. There are a lot of foods I wouldn’t buy for my dog no matter how much I wanted to save money. If I can’t afford decent food than maybe I shouldn’t own a pet. Costco’s pet food has a decent rating. The grocery store stuff is crap. Even lots of ones in petsmart, etc. That’s all I’ll say before people start hating on me, lol.

  13. Miss Molly

    I feed raw and will never compromise my pets’ health by spending less on food. I also don’t rely on my vet to teach me about food as most vets just sell what Hills, Royal Canin etc. want them to. I feed a species appropriate diet which in the case of my cat is raw meat, bones, organ meat, a small amount of crushed veggies and a couple of supplements. Dogs can eat more veggies and need less meat. I made my dog’s food for years and by knowing what she needed I was able to source good deals on meats/bones and I made the veggie portion by buying fruits/veggies that were bordering on over-ripe. Pre-made raw is expensive but it’s not as expensive as getting their teeth cleaned every year or two and all the stress it involves. By feeding grainless, raw food to my cat, I have avoided teeth cleaning and the amount of moisture will likely eliminate kidney disease. Getting a cat’s teeth cleaned generally costs about $500 because they have to get bloodwork done ahead of time to make sure they can handle the anaesthetic. Feeding kibble or canned that contains grains increases the odds of a cat becoming diabetic and it contributes to obesity.

  14. Tiffany


    Also, I wait until Petcetera has it’s sale (which it has relatively frequently) where with a purchase of $50, you get a $25 gift card. (sign up to their e-newsletters to see when these occur).

  15. Sharon LW

    My dog is a senior with specific health issues stemming from brain damage he incurred as a puppy. Despite his challenges, and his age, he is a happy and otherwise healthy old guy with hopefully at least a few more years left in him. That said, one of his health issues relates to his ability to swallow and digest food and he is required to be fed an almost exclusively wet food diet. As a result, my dog food bill is practically astronomical!! For that reason, this is the ONE AND ONLY exception to my rule in regards to “buying” coupons. I frequently purchase IAMS and Science Diet wet food coupons on eBay to save money. He tolerates both if these brands very, very well and so buying coupons for a few dollars saves me triple or more on my dog food bill.

    • Nicole

      Hi Sharon,
      I’m not sure where your located, if they have this, but they must. Have you tried those pre made wet food bags, you buy a bunch and then freeze them. They are filled with real veggies and meat. I now my friend swears by them. Just an idea.

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