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In the current economy, many people are looking for ways to cut expenses. One item that can really rack up the bills is pet food. People want the best for their pets but can not always afford what is best for their pets. 

How do you cut costs without harming your little furry companions? Cheaper food is not always the better choice. If you are already buying the cheapest food out there, chances are you’re not going to be able to cut costs in that way. However, you might be interested that feeding your pet cheap food may actually cost you more in the long run.

What you need to know about saving money on pet food

High quality ingredients means your pet will eat less.

While all foods meet the minimum standards for pet nutrition, very few exceed them. Low-quality ingredients mean your cat simply must eat more food to get nutrition. Many foods use cheap filler such as corn and by-products.

Most commercial dog foods include meat by-products. Meat by-products is a broad term that pretty much means anything from the slaughterhouse that was not sent off as prime cuts of meat. Bones, organs, feathers, hooves, claws, fatty tissue, and stomach intestines are all included under the blanket term “meat by-products.” 

Also, a dog or cat who is eating food containing a lot of corn or by-products simply must eat more food to get any nutrition. They will also poop more, too, as a result.

Most of these foods spend a lot of money on advertising. Therefore the consumer should note that the cost of the food also reflects this, not nutritional value.

People who feed these foods often think that because they are cheaper per bag, they are saving money. In fact, they may be feeding more food than if they bought a better quality food. Sadly too, these lower-priced foods are often preserved with cheap preservatives linked to health problems.

By selecting food that uses only top ingredients, a person can save money. Look for the first ingredient to be a chicken meal, turkey meal, or lamb meal, never corn or by-products.

Try making your own pet food

Making your own pet food can be a way to cut costs and improve the health of your pet. If you are unable to serve raw food to your animals for whatever reason, there are a couple of ways to save on the food that you are buying.

Many pet enthusiasts would recommend a BARF diet, which stands for Bones And Raw Food; it can also mean Biologically Appropriate Raw food. This diet includes bones with some meat attached, eggs, yogurt, vegetables, muscle, supplements, and herbs—the trick to feeding a raw food diet is to find the proper nutritional balance.

Check the Sunday newspaper for coupons, buy brands that are on sale, and compare prices of the same brand of food at different stores. 

Check out the Penny Hoarder for some cheap dog food recipes. And this site offers some inexpensive ideas for homemade cat food.

Buy in Bulk

Buying a large bag of food is always cheaper than buying the equivalent in smaller bags. As long as the open bag can be kept in a sealed container, it will remain fresh.

A bag of food can be purchased to last as long as 30 to 60 days, which makes far more sense than buying a box of food to last only a week or two.

Where to Shop

The foods commonly sold in grocery stores and department type stores are generally the lower quality foods. My personal favorite is Chewy.

Another great place to look for better foods is at independent stores or even groomers. You may find lower prices on pet food by shopping at livestock feed stores. Canned Foods

Look for Pet food assistance Programs

There are many programs out there that help pet owners who are struggling to pay for their pet’s food. If you need assistance purchasing food for your pet, check out this post for a huge list of assistance programs

Should you feed a pet Canned food?

The quality variations that exist in dry foods are far greater than in canned foods. Still, some people pay for things that their pet should not have.

Avoid foods with gravy as these are fattening. Buying larger cans is cheaper than buying several small ones; they can be kept refrigerated with sealed lids for a few days.

Young pets, pregnant and nursing pets, should always have canned food a few times throughout the day; however, feeding a whole can is not necessary.

Since canned food is more expensive, if a person wishes to reduce spending, they are wise to leave the dry food out all day and offer only a teaspoon of canned food per feeding.

Canned food can be mixed with water to increase urinary tract health. Some owners may wish to do without feeding canned food altogether.


Keep a lookout for in-store specials and coupons on the brand of cat food you buy. Again it is unwise to switch brands every time you buy food, particularly with dry food, but if you can find savings on your regular brand, why not take advantage of it? 

The Sunday Saver is a great website to keep tabs on for coupon deals

Vet care

Feeding a dog or cat too much grain can lead to gastrointestinal yeast infections, which are a bear to get rid of, and can really rack up the vet bill.

That’s another reason that less expensive food isn’t always the cheaper choice when you take into consideration that it may be what’s sending your pet to the vet.

While we are on the subject of vet care – keep in mind that deworming your pet will mean your pet is healthier and able to digest its food better and will ultimately eat less.
Also, Neutered and spayed animals, require fewer calories in a day.

Ultimately saving money on pet food is always good, but never at a health risk to your pet.  Some people might think that feeding less food is a way to save money, but it may jeopardize your pets well being and result in higher veterinary bills. Dog food is cheaper but should never be considered as an alternative to cat food, it does not contain as much meat, and the other minerals are balanced for dogs, not cats.