Auto Ship Your Pet Food: Yes or No?

Until we got our Australian Shepherd puppy, I was pretty against anything labeled “auto-ship.” Whether that be from Amazon or Walmart or wherever. It seemed like a great way to miss out on better in-store deals. But I’m going to go through why you should consider it as a good idea auto ship your pet food, and I’ll steer you away from some items to avoid ever clicking that “auto ship” or “subscribe and save” from. Switching to auto ship pet food has saved us time and money. That’s right. It wasn’t just a convenience purchase, it actually saved us money too! I’m going to look at two options, Chewy.com and Amazon.com. Neither of these require a membership fee to use. That’s right, you do NOT need to be an AmazonPrime member to get the discounts or free shipping! But does that mean Amazon is the better option? Not so fast….

What do your pets eat?

Really, this seems to be the biggest factor, and why I never thought to look online before. You see, my husband wanted our puppy to eat Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy food. This isn’t just regular Blue Buffalo or Blue Buffalo Puppy. This is Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy. It’s completely grain free and is a really great nutrition option. But it is REALLY expensive. Painfully expensive. But Travis was very insistent that this is what our dog was going to eat. So I immediately began trying to figure out how to get it for the cheapest.

Why did I turn to autoship to my pet food?

I (wrongly) assumed that autoshipping would come with a “convenience” cost. After all, instead of driving to a store/pet food store, the food would arrive to my doorstep. That had to come at a cost right? Wrong. Again, this may depend on your type of pet food. But here is another example that surprised me. My cat’s food was actually cheaper on Chewy than it was at Sam’s Club on sale. That was eye opening for me. I had assumed that since I was “buying in bulk” with Sam’s Club that it had to be cheaper. Wrong! So I created a second autoship for our cat food too. The good news though is that I can easily cancel either autoship if a crazy good deal pops up for either of our pet’s food. That leads me into a comparison of the two “big” pet food auto-ship vendors: Chewy.com and Amazon. I found Chewy 100% because of TV ads that ran around Christmas, and I figured Amazon because….well, really, what don’t they do?

Chewy.com Autoship

Features:

  • No Membership Fee
  • Free Shipping on $49+ orders*
  • FAST Shipping (1-2 days…. Ours have all shipped in under 24 hours)
  • 5% discount on many items
  • Ability to change order until it is processed
  • Ability to change frequency until it is processed

A couple of notes on the above. The *Free shiping on $49+ orders must be on the final price. That means, if your food is one of the many 5% discounted items, the shipment may fall under the $49 because of the discount and thus shipping is charged. The shipping cost will likely be higher than the 5% you saved, so this is something to really watch out for! In our case, this was true for our dog food, so I added in cat litter bags (a $2.50 purchase) to bring the cost up to just above $49. You might be thinking, “aha! You fell for it! They got you to spend more $!” And while it’s true that Chewy got more money out of me, it still saved us money because those cat litter bags cost more locally. I wouldn’t ahve thought to put them on autoship, but they are a consumable that runs out with about the same frequency as the dog food so the matchup was perfect. If I were adding in a new toy every time, then I’d think different. So this got us the free shipping and cheaper cat litter bags than anywhere.

Also, while Chewy’s website policy (and autoship reminder email) states you have up to three days until your autoship to change your order, I’ve actually changed it the day before without issue on two separate occassions. It’s smart of Chewy to have this policy in place in case something does prevent the changes, but just know that there’s a decent chance you can make changes until just before it ships.

The nice thing is that the auto-ship reminder emails also allow you to change the date or cancel. That way, if you found a great deal locally, you could just push out the autoshipment. Or, if you realized that you way overestimated how much food your pet ate, you can adjust. For us this is really nice with a puppy because the amount he’s eating has changed. I’ve had to edit my order date every time because of how his food intake changed. The good news was that it was really, really easy.

The only negative I found with my own ordewr was that our cat food doesn’t come with the 5% discount for autoship. That said, it’s always been “on sale” and was by far the best price regardless. So I’m not that mad. We have two autoship orders set to the frequency needed to make the $49 shipping minimum. Our dog food one it set to every 4 weeks because that’s about what he’s been eating, but our cat food is only every 12 weeks. Really, these could get combined, but so far we haven’t because of how the dog food has varied. Eventually these will become a combined order. I do have some bad news though, Chewy only currently serves the continental US. I’m from Alaska so I understand the frustration here.

Amazon.com Autoship (Subscribe and Save)

Features:

  • No Membership Fee (Amazon Prime is NOT required to use and get the discount)
  • Free Shipping on $25+ orders*
  • 5% discount on many items
  • Ability to change order
  • Ability to change frequency

Amazon has had subscribe and save in place for years, but when I went to look for our pet food, it cost more on Amazon than it did on Chewy by a few dollars. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to make me go to Chewy. Well, as of today and writing this article, the price is the same on our Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy

A HUGE turnoff though in comparison to Chewy.com is the shipping. When I went to place my order with Amazon Subscribe and Save, the “Free Shipping” option estimated my delivery as “between April 4th and 6th”….that is a full 6-8 days (4-6 business days) away! Of course, this is a hook to get consumers to sign up for Amazon Prime, which then means “Free 2 Day Shipping.” But what happens if, like today, you realize “uh oh! I’m going to be out of pet food in only a day or two!” You then feel compelled to rush out and buy some in the meantime. With Chewy, you’d still be able to go and select “ship now” and get the food in time for your pet. A huge thing for those outside of the continental US, you actually have the Amazon Subscribe & Save option! When I went to the Amazon site it said to estimate 5-9 business days for delivery to AK. I did not check beyond that, but the option IS available. Slow, but it may still save you money overall.

Now as far as the ability to change your order, according to the Amazon website, you do have this option available. Since I have not used the service, I had to read the policy, which is quite vague. There is no clear cut-off listed of when an order frequency or quantities can be changed. If you have any experience with this please comment below and I can edit this post to reflect that. For now, see the image of the policy as of the date this was written.

as of 3/29/18…link goes to the current info on Amazon.

 

Also, Amazon does not offer a discount on the cat food we order either, so the prices are the same.

Overall Thoughts: Auto Ship Your Pet Food? It depends, but it’s worth looking into for everyone.

  • It’s worth considering setting up an autoship for your pet food. Things to consider…
    • Can you easily buy your current food, or is it a trip to a separate store?
    • Does your pet food go on sale or have coupons regularly?
    • Is moving the pet food harming your health (i.e. back problems, weight lift restrictions etc)?
  • Do you already have an Amazon Prime membership?
    • If yes – then really either option would work well
    • If no – it is NOT worth paying for a membership just for this, look at Chewy instead.
  • Do you live in the continental US? If the answer is no, then forget about Chewy and take a peek at Amazon.
  • Settup up auto shipments on pet food allows for easy budgeting. You know the date that the food will be shipped (payment processed), and you can schedule that into your budget accordingly. We keep a separate line item for “Pets” in our budget, so it’s nice to see this visually scheduled.
  • Overall, if you choose to autoship your pet food, I recommend Chewy unless you have AmazonPrime and want to feel that you can get more use out of it. Or if the prices are significantly lower on Amazon. That portion of “research” is up to you. For us, they were identical cost-wise, but the shipping is where Chewy got our business. We gave up AmazonPrime a year and a half ago (I’ll post on that more later), but if you are interested in a Free 30-day trial (just remember to cancel if it isn’t for you!) click the image below. This might end up being a good option for those outside the continental US.

Items you should NOT Autoship to Save Money

Some of these items listed will save you time though. So if time is more valubale to you, then maybe you would want to set these up for a “subcribe and save” type offer. For us, I just order when there are sales. I would miss the sale prices if I chose the subscriptions! And while Amazon does offer a 20% discount on diapers that have a subscription, the costs I’ve found elsewhere are better in person, especially when looking for sales.

  • Basically any household consumable that you can purchase elsewhere for a similar price. Again, you.will.miss.sales.
    • laundry detergent
    • toilet paper (all paper products)
    • dish soaps
  • Diapers & Wipes- there are too many sales elsewhere!
  • Items that change in price, like my favorite Coconut Oil (link!). The price varies drastically and I mean doubles itself!

-Rachel

Originally: While this post may appear to be affiliated or sponsored by Chewy.com, it isn’t. Ironically, I will only receive affiliate income from Amazon purchases related to this post. These opinions are my own and honest, and in this case I think your best option is the one which gives me nothing. That’s okay, because I want you to save yourself time and money!

Edited July 2018: I now have an affiliate link for Chewy.com but hey, I’ve promoted them for MONTHS without one! I love them regardless 🙂

Products Mentioned (these images are clickable and link to Amazon)

Our Cat Food
Our Dog Food


Hi, my name is Rachel Smith. I’m a personal finance nerd,  Aldi connoissuer, book lover, yoga enthusiast, and budgeting wiz. I was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska but currently call Michigan home. I want to help people with their finances and eating healthy on a tight budget (no matter what your cost-of-living area is!)



6 thoughts on “Auto Ship Your Pet Food: Yes or No?”

  • Hello ,

    I saw your tweet about animals and thought I will check your website. I like it!

    I love pets. I have two beautiful thai cats called Tammy(female) and Yommo(male). Yommo is 1 year older than Tommy. He acts like a bigger brother for her. 🙂
    I have even created an Instagram account for them ( https://www.instagram.com/tayo_home/ ) and probably soon they will have more followers than me (kinda funny).

    I have subscribed to your newsletter. 🙂

    Keep up the good work on your blog.

    Regards
    Wiki

  • Great suggestions about Chewy and Amazon. I used Chewy for my cat litter which is Blue Buffalo brand. The cats love those walnut shells and I love not having the dust from the clay litter. I use Amazon for my cat food because of the subscribe and save. One thing I think could be helpful for Amazon shoppers is a website called http://www.camelcamelcamel.com This website daily checks whatever product you designate on Amazon and will send you an email right away if the price of your product drops (and those prices do fluctuate on Amazon). When the price drops then I pick up extras while I can over and above the sub and save. Every little bit helps. .

    • Yes camelcamelcamel is awesome! I use that all of the time and I’m glad you brought it up. I didn’t know you could do the automated emails so that’s really helpful for people to know. Thank you! -Rachel

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