How to Save Money on Dog Food (for Dog Owners on a Budget)

Katy is a frugal, loving dog owner looking for great stuff for her pups. She scours the stores and the internet for great products.

So, you want to give your dog quality food that will give him or her a long, happy life? But dog food gets expensive. Check out these ways to give them the same quality of food for a lower price.

1. Stay Away From Chain Stores

Dog food from a pet supply chain is always overpriced. The first part of saving money on food for your pet is realizing that the cat and dog food you can buy at your local pet supply chain store is at least 10% more expensive than what you should be paying. Prices fluctuate based on sales, which is not what you want to subject your wallet to. Instead, get smart about where you buy their food and how you buy their food.

2. Find Cheaper Dog Food Online

With the online marketplace offering many household items, the internet is often the best place to find the lowest prices. If you are set on a brand that works for your dog's nutritional needs and your budget, find that brand from an online retailer and compare it to your local pet store. The price will be a little better or at least the same at the online store. Plus, you get the food delivered straight to your door, which adds the bonus of additional time savings!

For cheaper big brands of dog food and cat food, Walmart's online store has very competitive prices and a decent shipping speed. For more select brands, you can try Chewy or Petsmart online to see their prices. A bulk buy of over $50 is enough to avoid the shipping fee for most online pet food stores, so make sure the company you use at least offers that. Otherwise, look elsewhere. Read more on using Chewy for dog food deals.

3. Homemade Dog Food—Does It Save Money?

Making your own dog food can save you money in the right circumstance, but that's not usually why folks choose to do it. Changing your dog to a homemade diet can be a challenge. Finding the time to make it and figuring out methods of storing and getting the recipe right all take extra work. Weigh these factors with the possibility that making your own food can be even more expensive than buying dry food from a bag.

The draw of making your own dog food is that you know exactly what goes into it. The food brands that are super transparent about their ingredients and use only quality, grain-free foods are going to be very pricey. If you want super quality ingredients to feed your pup, making your own food will help you save money.

In order to make homemade dog food cheaper than buying it at the store, you will have to use a good amount of "filler" ingredients like rice. Rice is not inherently bad for most dog breeds; it just does not add a lot of nutritional or energy value to their diets. A dog's metabolism runs on protein and fats; they can't make use of carbs as well as humans can.

Remember: You're feeding a carnivore here! Stick to high-protein ingredients like meat and fish. Even with a high protein meal, your dog will be missing essential nutrients that are often added to the processed dry food. You can get these as supplements from your pet supply store, but that will be a bit pricey. A cheaper alternative is to buy dry food to supplement your homemade food. Mix it in to give your dog the extra vitamins and minerals, and make the homemade stuff go a little further—a win for your dog's health and your wallet.

4. Mix Dog Food Brands

This is a tip I use for my dogs. They get a high-quality brand that is more expensive, but I know gives them a lot of quality protein and fats. I can afford this because I mix in a cheaper "filler" brand to make the more expensive food last longer.

Getting a good mix of food that is still healthy for your best friend requires understanding their nutritional needs. There's nothing wrong with the cheap brands you find at the grocery store. They have a lot of "filler" in the form of grains that are less expensive to produce than meat.

A domestic dog is able to digest the grains in the filler brands just fine. It doesn't do any actual harm; it just means they are getting less energy overall. So, if you mix this with grain-free dog food that is high in protein, your dog is still getting the nutrients he needs with the energy from the higher quality food.

5. Buy Dry Dog Food in Bulk

You can keep buying your dog the same quality of food for less by purchasing it in bulk. If your local pet store has your preferred brand of food at a reasonable price, you can keep an eye out for coupons. "Buy one get one" or even "buy one get one half off" turns out to be a really solid deal if you are willing to buy enough.

When you see a good deal, read the fine print of the coupon to decide if it applies to more than one bag; if you can, use it on several orders. You know you will need it eventually, and it will save you money (and time going to the store) in the future.

The key to buying in bulk is a good storing solution. You need to keep the dog food in a dry area that little critters don't have access to. It's not just your dog you need to keep out; it's the mice and ants and other small scavengers (depending on your area). The garage might not be a suitable place for bulk food. Consider bringing it into a closet or crawlspace if you can afford the room.

Take Precautions When Altering Your Dog's Diet

  • Avoid Drastic Dietary Changes: Please be cautious of your dog's health when choosing their diet. Any drastic change in your dog's diet is likely to give them stomach problems if they have never had that specific food before. Mitigate this by starting with small quantities of new food mixed in with their old for a few days to let their digestive system adapt. This also has the added benefit of encouraging picky eaters to get used to a new taste.
  • Minimize Contamination: If you are incorporating homemade food into their meals, take precautions to stop bacteria growth during cooking and storage.

© 2018 Katy Medium

Megan Nelson from Spokane on April 13, 2018:

Its good that you do, and to be honest I wasnt aware of dog allergies until I adopted a dog who had them which of course has made me eye that ingredients list like a hawk. I forgot to mention it before and I apologize for the late statement, but great article over all.

Katy Medium (author) from Denver, CO on April 12, 2018:

Megan, thanks for those warnings. You're absolutely right: beware the filler brands!

The Pedigree food I use works well because I understand what's in it and neither of my dogs have had allergy problems with it before I started mixing.

Megan Nelson from Spokane on April 11, 2018:

You want to be careful about the "Filler" brands that you add to your dog food to make it last longer. There have been several recalls from cheap brands such as Gravy Train and Kibbles N' Bits that contained the same drugs used in euthanasia for dogs. Not to mention, feeding them two different dog foods can make harder to target grain and other food allergies when you're using two different brands. Dog food allergies have been more common because of cheaper brands that use cheap ingredients. While it's understandable that money is an issue with higher quality dog food, it's also important to keep your pet healthy over cutting corners. ( Plus you'll save more money when you don't have to take your dog to the vet all the time!)

Source on the dog food recall:

15 Easy Homemade Dog Treats

1. Homemade Peanut Butter Pumpkin Dog Treats

These bone shaped treats look so cute! And they’re good for your dog because they contain pumpkin, which can help with digestive issues. Follow Damn Delicious’ tutorial to make your own tasty peanut butter and pumpkin dog treats!

2. Homemade Sweet Potato Dog Chews

These are great chew treats for your dog! Sweet potato is good for them in that like pumpkin, sweet potato helps with with digestion. Use Happy Money Saver’s recipe to make your dog some delicious sweet potato chew treats!

3. Frozen Pupsicles Dog Treats

These treats will be very handy with helping your dog deal with the summer heat! They’re very easy to make, and will make your dog leave the family alone while they enjoy their human popsicles! Find out how to make these yummy dog popsicle treats by following Positively’s tutorial!

4. Homemade Sweet Potato Pretzel Dog Treats

These treats look so cute, and only have a few ingredients! Pretty Fluffy explains how to make your own pretzel dog treats!

5. Apple Crunch Pupcakes

Don’t these look delicious? It’s hard to believe they’re dog treats! Miss Candiquik shows how to make your dog these delicious apple crunch cupcake dog treats!

6. Wet Food Dog Treats

Your dog is sure to love these! You use their favorite brand of canned wet dog food as the main ingredient. Eclectic Recipes explains how to make these easy and delicious wet food dog treats!

7. Homemade Peanut Butter and Yogurt Frozen Dog Treats

These treats look pretty and taste delicious (if you’re a dog)! And since they’re frozen, they’d make a great summer treat! Follow 17 Apart’s recipe to make these delicious frozen dog treats!

8. Homemade Dog Ice Cream Treats

After walking or playing in the summer heat, there are few better treats for your dog than doggie ice cream! And unlike commercial brands (including some “natural” ones), there are no odd chemical ingredients! Follow First Home Love Life’s recipe to make your dog some delicious dog ice cream!

9. Pumpkin, Bacon, and Flax Dog Biscuits

Since these treats include bacon, they’re sure to quickly become your dog’s favorite! Follow Adventures in Cooking’s recipe to make these yummy pumpkin, bacon, and flax dog treats!

10. Sweet Potato Peanut Butter Sandwich Dog Treats

These don’t even look like dog treats! The peanut butter icing filling makes these really unique. Find out how to make these little dog sandwich treats by following Live Laugh Cook’s recipe!

11. Homemade Dog Pill Treats

If your dog takes medicine or vitamins in pill form, there’s a high chance you’re working hard every day to hide/disguise the pills in their food. We’ve found it much easier to give pills if they’re inside of dog pill hiding treats! And homemade pill treats are much healthier and cheaper than their commercial counterpart. Follow Pet Coupon Saving’s simple recipe to make your own homemade dog pill treats!

12. Homemade Grain Free Dog Treats

If your dog is grain free due to allergies or your preference, then you should definitely try this treat! It includes a lot of helpful ingredients, including nutritional yeast, which is believed to help keep away fleas and mosquitoes. Follow Primally Inspired’s recipe to make these healthy and tasty grain free dog treats!

13. Homemade Frozen Star Dog Treats

These look like human popsicle snacks, but they’re actually fruit dog treats! With just 3 ingredients, these are easy to make, and very healthy! Find out how to make these frozen fruit dog treats by following Irresistible Pets’ recipe.

14. Homemade Peanut Butter and Jelly Dog Popsicle Treats

Doesn’t this look tasty? Your dog will really appreciate getting one of these this summer! Follow Doggy Dessert Chef’s tutorial and make your dog his/her own healthy PB and J popsicle treats!

15. Homemade Strawberry Dog Treats

These treats look so good! And your dog will love the extra flavor from the strawberries! Follow Homemade Dog Treats Now’s recipe to find out how to make your own strawberry dog treats!

Remember, these are treats, so give them in moderation. Especially if they include an ingredient your dog hasn’t had before- dogs can have food allergies too! If your dog is on a limited ingredient diet, consider removing or swapping some ingredients for some other dog-friendly alternatives. For example, we like to keep Corey gluten free, so sometimes we substitute his dry dog food for the flour in recipes (we grind it up first). Also, fresh ingredients are always better. We get fresh ground unsalted peanut butter for Corey at Kroger. You can get a lot for less than $1!

What treats do you like to make for your dog?

You might also be interested in: 10 Homemade Dog Toys

#2 – Buy Dog Treats In Bulk To Save Money

I buy most dog treats in bulk.

Whenever they go on sale and/or I have a great coupon for the treats my dog likes best, I tend to stock up.

Just remember, dog treats don’t last forever. So always check the expiration date on dog food and treats before you buy! I use a Sharpie to circle the expiration date on each package, so it’s easy to grab the oldest ones first in my cabinet that’s filled to the brim with dog treats.

One dog treat that I always buy in bulk: Biljac frozen liver morsels.

Similar to what I do with storebought dog treats (break them into smaller pieces to get more for my money and to make them last longer), I’ve found that I can make an entire $5.99 bag of frozen Biljac last 1 year these days.

The frozen Biljac comes in a 5-lb bag. As soon as I get home from the store (and the Biljac has thawed a tiny bit), I immediately repackage it into several small Ziploc bags. I end up with several plastic baggies — each containing a small clump of the moist liver morsels. I toss all the baggies into the freezer, and then just grab one as I need it. It’s a great way to stretch out one large bag of Biljac over the course of a year by creating single-use bags instead.

While Biljac is a wholesome dog FOOD, I give my dog Biljac as dog TREATS instead. Sometimes, I’ll use it as a reward after giving my dog a pill. Usually, I stuff Kong toys with it.

Trust me, it lasts a good long time when used in this way. And it’s a very special treat that my dog seems to appreciate — like a nice surprise — since he gets it so rarely.

Monitoring your dog's weight

No matter how carefully you work out your dog's wet food portion size, it won't always be perfect. As such, you should regularly monitor your dog's weight and body condition, particularly if you've recently switched foods or adjusted their portion size. While you can observe your dog for noticeable weight loss or weight gain, you'll get more accurate results weighing your dog regularly. Unless you have your own set of canine scales, you can usually go to your veterinarian's office to use their scales for free.

Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

The 7 Best Dog Food Brands of 2021

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products you can learn more about our review process here . We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

"Large or small, puppy or senior, this brand will have a formula that has your dog's specific nutritional needs in mind."

"This budget food doesn't cut corners on quality—the top ingredient is always meat, not grains or fillers like with some brands."

"Along with formulas for different ages and sizes, this brand has food for dogs that require special diets, like grain-free."

"You can feel good knowing that this brand has veterinarians and pet nutritionists involved in the development process of their food."

Best for Puppies: Blue Buffalo at Amazon

"While many brands have a limited range of food specially made for puppies, this one has multiple lines based on your pup's needs."

Best for Large Dogs: Purina at Chewy

"The Pro line has plenty of options for large and giant dog breeds, which have different nutritional needs throughout their lives."

Best for Small Dogs: Wellness Pet Food at PetCo

"To meet your small dog's nutritional needs, this company packs plenty of calories into smaller kibble bites that are easy to chew."

Dogs aren’t necessarily super picky when it comes to what they eat. Haven’t we all observed them scrounging through the trash for a tasty bit of leftovers or a bone to gnaw on? But your pooch’s voracious appetite doesn’t mean that just any food is a good option for dinner—or breakfast or lunch.

When choosing a dog food brand, you’ll want to consider the ingredients that are used, along with the company’s ethos. That is, you’ll want to feel confident that the company cares about your pet’s health and safety as much as you do.

Here are the best dog food brands on the market to keep your pup's system in top shape.

Watch the video: Best dog food for puppies What to feed a puppy Healthy Dog Food Homemade dog food Home cooked raw

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