In a perfect world, we could all afford the healthiest food for our pets that helps them live as long as possible. In the real world, but some healthy pet food options are just too expensive for many of us to buy regularly. If you are looking for healthy pet food on a budget, Oakland Veterinary Referral Services is here with helpful tips for you:

Talk to Your Veterinarian 

When it comes to nutrition, no one has better answers than your veterinarian. Before you switch up your pet food brand, talk to your veterinarian about the ingredients he or she would really like to see in your pet’s food. This gives you a good baseline of must-haves for heathy food choices, which can help you avoid some of the more expensive options. Your vet might even have food samples that can save you a little bit of money.

Make Sure the Food is Nutritionally Complete

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) will have a statement on pet food that meets basic nutritional requirements. This statement will let you know what nutrients are in the food, the method they used to determine this, and what stage of life the food is designed for. This statement will let you know if the food you want to purchase has enough nutrition to serve as a full meal for your pet or if you should look for a different option instead. Look for “nutritionally complete” on the label of the food you’re considering. Choose a product with whole meat products rather than by-products. 

Consider Generic Brands from Well-Known Brands

Spending time researching before you even leave the house can save you a lot of time (and strife) when you get to the store. Some of the top brands will have cheaper, generic versions, for example, that still offer good nutritional benefits. Try typing in “generic” and your favorite brand into a search engine to see if you can find more affordable options. You can also find some of the top veterinarian-approved budget options with a few quick internet searches. 

Research Healthy Pet Foods on a Budget Online

As foods and prices change, names of specific brands will change. A quick search online can let you see what is both healthy and budget-friendly now. Be sure to pay attention to the date of any answers. In Google, you can choose Tools > and a dropdown box will let you choose results only from a certain time period (past year, past month, etc.).

Try to Buy in Bulk

Buying pet food in bulk can help you cut the costs per pound of food. Instead of buying a 10-pound bag, for example, a 40-pound bag might give you more bang for your buck (and more of a workout getting it into the house). If you can find the food you want there, certain big box stores like Sam’s Club and Walmart tend to have the best deals for bulk pet food. is generally the least expensive online option for healthy pet foods. With Chewy, be sure to buy enough to qualify for free shipping to lower the cost, or consider their auto-ship program.

Avoid Marketing Hype

One reason we tend to pay more for a pet food is the labels that marketers put on the package. Do your research before buying products labeled “premium” or “natural which any company can add to its package.

Look for Coupons and Stock Up

You may want to search for online coupons for the brand you’re interested in, then stock up while you have coupons. 

Supplement with Homemade Food

It is likely to be more expensive to make all of your pet’s food yourself. A balanced home-cooked diet for a 30-pound dog generally usually costs 2-4x the price of commercial dry food of similar qualities though there are ways to reduce that cost. Wet cat food is of course more expensive than dry kibble. One option is to buy a large can of tuna in water at a big box store. You can supplement kibble with a spoon full of tuna or leftover vegetables at little cost. You can divide and freeze a week’s worth of tuna, then thaw one package as needed.

You can provide nutritional supplementation with inexpensive healthy foods though. Organ meat (like liver, kidneys, or heart) provides a lot of essential vitamins for pets and is easy to get from your local butcher. You can also cook up sweet potatoes (a good source of vitamin A or some turmeric and ginger, which are anti-inflammatories). You can even make your own dry food with minimal effort. 

Try Your Local Feed Store

Don’t forget to check your local feed store or tractor supply which may offer healthy pet foods on a budget.  

At Oakland Veterinary Referral Services, we are committed to providing pet owners with helpful resources that enable them to give their pets the best lives. Check out our blog for more helpful information or call (248) 334-6877 to schedule one of our specialty veterinary services.