The economy is still in a lull, but people aren't cutting spending on their pets, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey. However, you can trim how much you spend on pet food. That's what Consumer Reports ShopSmart found when it shopped for the best pet food prices.
It checked out prices at supermarkets and at stores such as Target, Walmart, Petco, and PetSmart. A team of secret shoppers was sent out to find the best prices on 23 pet products, including dog food, cat food, kitty litter, and treats.
ShopSmart also checked pet food prices online. PetFoodDirect.com is the biggest pet food e-tailer. But ShopSmart found it usually charged 50 percent more than the lowest prices the shoppers paid.
Specialty pet food stores weren't the cheapest places to shop either. For example, a bag of Meow Mix Original Choice at Petco cost almost $7, at Target it cost just under $4. And Milk-Bone dog treats at Petco were $6.50, but at Walmart they cost $2.50.
In ShopSmart's search, Target and Walmart were much cheaper than anywhere else, and their prices were usually just pennies apart. If you do need to grab some pet food at the supermarket, Consumer Reports ShopSmart found supermarket prices to be in the middle of the pack.
For specialty pet food, you're better off at PetSmart. ShopSmart found PetSmart's prices averaged 13 percent cheaper than Petco's.
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