I’ve never been a “buy everything on the Web” kind of person; I only started shopping online in the past couple of years, and mostly for things I can’t find in local stores.
I rarely consider shopping for pet products on the Web because (A) there are several reasonably well stocked pet stores within minutes of my home and (B) my dogs prefer the in-store shopping experience (especially since most of the local pet stores keep treats behind the register!).
But with two dogs and two cats, I spend a LOT of money on pet products. And I really need to start watching my costs, since I’m the only one in this household who brings in an income (ironic, since I have two working dogs — you’d think, being working dogs, that they’d get a job and bring in some $$, wouldn’t you?).
While I like the “live” shopping experience, the truth is, the Web not only offers better prices, but there’s something to be said for having your pet supplies show up on your front step, instead of having to lug two 30-pound bags of dog food and two 20-pound containers of cat litter from the store to the car, and from the car into the house (the dogs don’t help with this either…though if I get lazy and drop them just inside the front door, they will happily tear the bags open and engage in an all-you-can-eat buffet!).
So once I decided to do some pet shopping online, the next question was, where? Amazon seemed like the obvious starting point; they carry pretty much everything on the planet, and probably stuff from other planets, too. But the problem with Amazon is that they carry everything but it’s from everywhere else…which means ordering six different brands of products means buying from six different stores that go through Amazon, which means paying shipping for six different companies because you don’t spend enough with any one company to get free shipping (which you think you’d get from Amazon, but you don’t unless the item you want is actually coming directly from Amazon, which wasn’t the case with anything I wanted).
Coincidentally, I was complaining about this very issue when I received an invitation from MrChewy.com to try out their Web site. With two dogs and two cats, each of whom are on different foods, and who like very specific treats (different brands — God forbid anyone like the same thing and make my life easy!), I went to the site expecting another “If I go here, I’ll only have five more places to go” experience.
Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. They not only carried everyone’s food brands, but they carried the specific formulas and flavors my dogs and cats prefer (one’s a senior, one only likes salmon, one is on a high protein diet and one throws up anything except chicken and oatmeal, sensitive systems). And they offered free delivery, which was a huge bonus.
Next we browsed the dog treats section. Dog treats are important in our house. So we browsed…and browsed…and browsed. Lexie settled on my feet on the couch and stretched out to view the treat choices over my shoulder.
My foot fell asleep by page 15 or so, and we still weren’t done browsing all the treats. I’m quite sure someone went to bed with visions of sugar plums in her furry little head (or visions of freeze dried chicken treats, as the case may be!). Endless choices = happy dogs, especially since they had organic and wheat free choices. The prices were also quite reasonable; the hard-to-find peanut butter treats that my sister’s Morkie pup loves cost considerably less than in the local pet store.
The ordering process was simple, and the next day, I had an email saying my order had shipped. Which is good, because I’m the kind of person who realizes I need dog food just about when I get to the bottom of the container. Even more surprising, a day later the whole order showed up. In my experience, free shipping means free shipping via the pony express (i.e. you order now and hope it shows up by Christmas), but this was the kind of shipping that you could actually realize you’re down to the bottom of the food container, order more (without paying a rush fee) and still get the food before your dog misses a meal. Hard not to be impressed by that.
There was a lot to like about this site, from the ridiculously large selection of treats and food options to the ease of shopping and super speedy delivery.
What didn’t I like? They were still selling chicken jerky treats, including at least one company that imports from China. Granted, the stuff hasn’t been recalled, but it’s hard to imagine anyone anywhere hasn’t heard the FDA warnings, or the numerous stories about deaths and severe illnesses tied to chicken jerky originating from China. And even though the stuff is legal to sell, I still feel that a company that makes a living from (and presumably cares about) animals shouldn’t be promoting or selling this stuff. That said, perhaps I’m being idealistic here. I did notice that they don’t carry the three big brands that have been primarily cited as being associated with these problems (though I’d still feel better if they didn’t carry any chicken jerky from China at all)
They also don’t stock my personal favorite supplement, Glyco-Flex III (though to be fair, they stock a very good selection of glucosomine options — far more than other sites I’ve visited). So I still have to go to one more place for that.
But by and large, there wasn’t much I could think of buying that wasn’t available here. The prices were good, the shipping fast and free, and my dogs were so excited when the box showed up, they didn’t even miss the pet store trip!
Janice Costa is owner and founder of Canine Camp Getaway of NY, the Lake George, NY-based vacation for dogs and dog lovers. When she’s not working, playing or traveling with dogs, she works in the home design field as an author and magazine editor.