As any owner of multiple dogs will tell you, dog food isn’t cheap, and dog owners are always looking for ways to reduce their costs or avoid weekly visits to their local pet food stores.
Moreover, as well as dog owners with several dogs, there are many dedicated volunteers and individuals who support local dog shelters and programs by purchasing and donating dog food on a regular basis.
A final reason for needing bulk dog food could be for working dogs such as hunting dogs, sleigh dogs, or police/military dogs. For these dogs, food is especially important as these dogs are usually extremely active and require a huge calorie intake.
In all of these cases, purchasing dog food in bulk can be an extremely efficient method of reducing their costs without sacrificing on quality. But where is the best place to purchase dog food, and what factors should influence your decision?
Important Considerations When Buying Dog Food In Bulk
Before we go through the details on where you can buy dog food in bulk, here are a few important factors to consider.
Reliability – This is an extremely important factor that many dog owners neglect. If you purchase your dog food from an unreliable source, you could be left high and dry at some point, unable to source or receive the food you need.
This may force you to go out and purchase a different type of dog food, disrupting your dog’s diet, or you may have to purchase dog food not in bulk, taking you right back to square one.
Discounts – At the end of the day, price is everything, and any store or website that can offer consistent discounts on their dog food, especially when purchased in bulk, will turn heads.
Some offer initial upfront discounts, which are nice at first but mean little as the month’s pass, but others offer long-term discounts on regular or repeat orders which is something you should take advantage of if possible.
Variety – Some of the bulk sellers of dog food will have a much more limited range of dog food recipes available for purchase which can mean some dogs with specialized diets or needs are left out.
This can be especially true of any prescription recipes for dogs with specific health issues or foods for dogs with allergies and sensitivities which must avoid certain ingredients.
Location/Shipping Costs – While the global supply chain and logistics have evolved massively over the last few decades, there are still issues around shipping and sourcing.
If you live in a more remote location, away from large cities or built-up areas, it may be more difficult to arrange to ship or pick up of dog food in bulk which may influence your choice of source.
While this can be combatted by ordering well in advance or re-routing your shipments to pick-up locations, this can lead to other problems such as spoilage or transportation issues.
Customer Service/Returns Policy – While we hope there aren’t issues with our orders, it happens from time to time, and having a responsive and reasonable support team can make a huge difference.
This will make the resolution service much smoother and ensure that any problem items are returned and new orders shipped to ensure you aren’t left without your dog food.
While one of the youngest dog food suppliers listed, Chewy has become a behemoth over the last decade and is now the biggest online retailer of pet food and pet products in the United States.
Chewy has one of the widest selections of dog food brands available of any online store, including favorites like Purina Pro Plan, Royal Canin, Hill’s Science Diet, Blue Buffalo, Orijen, Acana, Taste of the Wild, Diamond, and more.
Chewy offers free 1-3 day shipping on all of their orders over $49, regardless of their weight or size, which can be extremely advantageous when buying high volumes of dog food.
Chewy also offers an Autoship program which allows you to set up a subscription for your dog food and automates the ordering and shipping at an interval of your choosing.
By signing up for this auto-ship program, chewy customers receive 5% off all future auto-ship orders, which is a significant discount when purchasing in bulk.
This auto-ship program also allows you to quickly and easily cancel the subscription if it is no longer required and gives these subscription purchases inventory priority at times when stock is low.
You can learn more about Chewy’s Auto-ship program here.
Chewy has a 24/7 helpline service with dedicated customer support representatives available to support you with your purchases and resolve any issues you have.
A last worthwhile mention regarding Chewy is that they have a very relaxed and generous returns program. While Chewy will try to minimize issues, sometimes it does not arrive as expected, and the packaging or contents may be damaged.
Having a broad and simple return policy is critical to ensure you can quickly and effectively get a refund or replacement food.
Costco is vastly different from Chewy and other online pet retailers, but that doesn’t mean they should be easily dismissed.
Costco is a membership-based wholesaler that many shoppers across the United States, Canada, and Europe will be familiar with.
Their annual membership options vary from $60-$120 depending on the membership type, which is a small fee to pay for access to their products and services.
While most shoppers head to Costco for their own food shopping or to pick up deals on clothes, supplies, and electronics, they do have a consistent but small range of dog food.
This range falls under Costco’s private-label Kirkland brand and includes a mix of dry dog food and wet dog food. This food is mostly sold in large bags of up to 40 lbs or large cases, aligning strongly with the focus on bulk purchasing.
In particular, Kirkland Nature’s Domain recipes are ones that we rated, thanks to their impressive nutrition and use of high-quality meat and fish ingredients.
However, this dog food range from Kirkland does have its limitation and doesn’t have many of the specialized recipes that other brands do.
Costco’s return policy is also exceptional and one of its most famous traits that have led to many urban myths.
Everyone has heard of the famous story of someone returning a Christmas tree to Costco after Christmas and them accepting them, and while the reality may be a little more down to earth, they will generally accept all reasonable returns.
For those dog owners who already have a Costco membership or have a Costco store nearby, Costco could be the best option for buying dog food in bulk.
While Amazon seems to have taken over the market or world in many spaces, its excursion into dog food is still somewhat limited.
Despite that, Amazon is still a big player and one of the most consistent online retailers that you can take advantage of.
While the range of brands available on Amazon may not be as varied as Chewy, it still includes many of the giants of the industry like Purina Pro Plan, Hill’s Science Diet, Iams, Wellness, Nutro, Blue Buffalo, Eukanuba, Royal Canin, and more.
Amazon has also developed several private-label brands that are exclusively sold on Amazon’s website, the largest of which is known as Wag.
Similar to Chewy’s Autoship program, Amazon offers its own subscription program called Subscribe & Save. This allows shoppers to subscribe to regular deliveries of their favorite products, and in exchange, they get a minor discount.
On most dog food recipes, this discount is initially 5%, which aligns with Chewy’s discount but can increase to 10% or even 15% if five or more products are delivered in one auto-delivery shipment.
While 10% or 15% may not sound like much, if you are buying hundreds of dollars of dog food, it will soon add up and could tip the scales in amazon’s favor for those who value price above all.
You can learn more about Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program here.
However, to be transparent, it appears that this Subscribe and Save option is not available on all dog food recipes, so you will have to check your prospective choices to be sure.
Sadly, while Amazon is known for its innovative and world-leading supply chain, it is a regular sight to see dog food recipes out of stock on Amazon, which could make using them as your primary source a challenge.
Along with supply issues, many are not fans of amazon’s practices and treatment of their employees and choose to avoid their services in favor of smaller or more ethical businesses.
Petflow is often left out of a discussion on buying dog food online, but they shouldn’t be and are a viable option for those who do not want to use Chewy.
Petflow was founded in 2010, at a similar time to Chewy, and has grown significantly over the last decade to provide food and supplies to thousands of dogs.
Petflow matches Chewy’s promise of free shipping on all orders over $49, which ensures dog owners can easily get their bulk shipped directly to them for free.
Petflow also has an auto-ship option very similar to Chewy’s Autoship program, and Petflow has a promotion to get $10 off your first five shipments, which isn’t an insignificant amount.
This auto-ship feature is also flexible, allowing you to easily modify your orders, change dates, skip orders, and cancel with zero fees.
Petflow also has a charitable side and claims to donate a bowl of food for every purchase made on their website, allowing thousands to get consistent meals.
However, Petflow isn’t anywhere near as large or dominant as Chewy, and as a result, their stock and logistics network may not be as reliable.
For dog owners who value reliability over everything else they may want to stick with retail stores or Chewy to ensure their dogs get their food on time.
Walmart is one of two hybrid options which we are going to discuss. We call these hybrid options as they have both physical retail stores as well as a substantial online presence.
Walmart has one of the largest, if not the largest retail footprint in the United States at almost 5000 stores, and almost the entire population lives somewhat close to a Walmart store.
This massive footprint makes them an obvious choice for dog owners looking to regularly purchase dog food in bulk.
Many dog owners will be familiar with the dog food aisle of their local Walmart store, where they can find brands like Ol’Roy, Kibbles ‘N Bits, Gravy Train, Purina Dog Chow, and more. Sadly, many of these brands make food that is poor-quality and far from ideal.
However, there are others that can be found in Walmart, such as Rachael Ray Nutrish, Pure Balance, Crave, and Purina Beyond, that produce much better food. You can learn more in our article Best Dog Food At Walmart.
While many of these brands do not sell their food in overly large packaging or volumes, Walmart excels in their supply, and you are likely able to purchase a large number of bags on any given visit.
Walmart also has one of the most advanced and reliable supply chains, which will ensure that they always have a reliable stock of products.
However, many do not realize that Walmart also have an extensive online store, which stocks a huge range of dog food, far more than their retail stores.
Walmart’s online store doesn’t yet offer subscription-style discounts or promotions on dog food like others do, but they have similar free shipping options depending on the size of the order and its destination.
PetSmart is the other hybrid choice worth mentioning in our discussion. Many pet owners will be well-versed with PetSmart, given it is the largest retail pet store in the United States.
Not only do they have a large number of stores, but their stores themselves are usually large in size, with several large aisles dedicated to the sale of all manners of dog food.
Their shelves are packed full of well-known brands like Purina Pro Plan, Royal Canin, Hill’s Science Diet, Blue Buffalo, Wellness, Nutro, as well as their own brands like Authority and Simply Nourish.
You can learn about some of our favorite dog food recipes available from PetSmart in our article Best Dog Food At PetSmart.
Petsmart’s online store is somewhat lacking compared to others like Chewy or Petflow, but this isn’t surprising given that Petsmart actually purchased Chewy in 2017 and so probably focused their online efforts there rather than their own website.
However, one feature of Petsmart to consider is its click and collect options. This allows dog owners to put in a large order of dog food and collect it from their local store at their convenience without having to worry about whether it is in stock.
Another unique option available from PetSmart is the possibility of using the popular food delivery service DoorDash to deliver pet food to their customers.
This is an extremely convenient option for many dog owners and more user-friendly than traditional shipping options, which are often difficult to track or plan for.