Cheap Pet Food—Is it Worth the Cost?

Cat eating from a food bowl

The price of housing, groceries, and gas are getting higher than we’ve experienced in a while. So shelters are seeing a rise in pet intakes due to pet owners struggling financially. If you’ve sought out this blog article because you’re having trouble affording your pet’s food, we’re sorry that you’re struggling right now. But you may ask, is cheap pet food worth the cost?

We want to help with some ideas that may help you feed your pet for less expense, and be able to keep your pet as part of your family.

Choose a Cheaper Pet Food

There seems to be a correlation between the quality of costly pet foods and their heftier price. Still, there are good quality foods out there for smaller budgets. Most commercially made pet foods meet the minimum requirements for pet nutrition. And even the cheaper foods are fine to use short-term until your budget allows for a food with higher quality ingredients.

We recommend transitioning your pets back to a higher-quality food as soon as you’re able. This is because cheaper foods can sometimes come with a higher price tag in terms of pet health.

A word of caution though: Don’t quit using therapeutic pet food if your veterinarian has prescribed it. These diets often control health conditions that would otherwise require medication, which could be even more costly. If you’re having a hard time affording your pet’s prescription diet, speak to your veterinarian. The pharmaceutical company may have coupons or online discounts to help clients.

Many of the brands that veterinarians recommend (brands that actually have full-time veterinary nutritionists on staff and have completed feeding trials to ensure the food is complete and balanced) are NOT the most expensive foods on the market. In fact, many of those companies have several different “tiers” of food to accommodate different price points for owners.

Change How You Buy

If you normally buy your pet’s food online, consider enrolling in “auto-ship” if it is offered. You can normally adjust the shipment to coincide with when you know you’ll be running out. The auto-ship feature will usually save you a percentage of what the food would cost if you were to buy it without auto-ship. Be sure to keep an eye on the prices though. Often, auto-ship doesn’t lock-in the price you originally purchased it at, and the cost could go up without you realizing it.

Buying locally and supporting local businesses can also save you money. We’ve found that local prices are comparable or even cheaper than big box stores or online retailers. Plus, they often have a loyalty program where you buy 10 or 12 and your next bag, or case, is free.

By signing up for a local store’s newsletter or with the manufacturer of your pet’s food, you can receive money-saving coupons. Also, it doesn’t hurt to do a Google search for coupons for the brand of your pet’s food.

Stretch and Save

Stretching your dollar by stretching your pet’s rations isn’t something everyone can do. We’ve heard of the tragic results that occur when well-meaning parents try to water down baby formula. Similar outcomes can take place when cutting down on meal sizes.

But, many pets are considered overweight and a reduction in portion sizes can actually be a healthy thing to do until they reach an ideal body composition again. What is an ideal body composition? Your pet should have a clearly defined waist. And while ribs should not be visible, you should be able to feel them under the skin.

Healthier and Cheaper Treats

Pet treats are usually priced much higher than pet food. But certain “human” foods can provide a welcomed and healthy treat for much less expense. Blueberries, diced apples, or carrots are some great options. Be sure to research any food before offering it to your pet, as some, like grapes, are toxic to some animals.

No matter what kind of food you choose to feed your pet, we recommend daily tooth brushing. This is the single most effective thing you can do at home to help keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy. This potentially allows you to go longer between professional dental cleanings, which will also save you money.

We hope these ideas can help you save money on your pet’s food while keeping them healthy and happy!