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Important Things to Know About Online Pet Stores

Kalicia Bateman
Kalicia Bateman | Contributor

The number of pet owners in America has been rising over the past several years. Most Americans now consider their cuddly canine or fluffy feline as a part of the family. The recent increase in pet retail sales has skyrocketed as pet owners are spending more and more money on their pets. While vet visits make up the majority of expenses for both cats and dogs, pet owners are paying around $818 for dogs and $561 for cats for basic annual expenses which includes food, treats, grooming, boarding costs, vitamins, and toys.

Why online pet stores are so popular

The convenience of an online pet store is a draw for customers. Unlike a brick and mortar store, online pet stores allow customers to shop 24/7, easily compare products and prices, all from the comfort of their home. Plus, pet owners can have just about anything delivered right to their door.

Benefits of ordering online

Besides being able to order supplies at 2 am in your pajamas, using online pet stores has several other benefits:

  • Save on gas
    One of the best things about online shopping is having it delivered straight to your door. No more driving around town looking for your dog's favorite chew toy.
  • Access to a large variety of products
    Maybe this month you want to give your pup an all-natural diet or you want that adorable cat leash your neighbor had. With a few keystrokes and a Google search, you can find exactly what you were looking for at an online pet store.
  • Sales and discounts
    Most online pet store sites have a section where owners can find on sale or discounted items. Depending what is on sale, pet owners can try purchasing some new dog food brands or buy that large cat tree for their feline friend.

One-stop pet shops

Just like the name suggests, a one-stop pet shop provides pet products for a variety of animals, making it easy for pet parents to buy all their pet supplies in one place. Pet owners can find anything from dog and cat food to bird cages. Chewy, Petco, and PetSmart are great for cat and dog owners, but they also offer products and supplies for fish, birds, reptiles, and other small pets (rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, etc.)

Natural and organic pet stores

Over the past few years, the number of pet owners purchasing natural and organic pet supplies has risen. Pet owners who are concerned about what’s in their pets’ food are now seeking healthier options. Many dog and cat owners are opting for pet foods free of animal by-products, preservatives, or artificial flavorings, claiming that an all-natural diet can improve pets’ overall health and well-being. Take a look at some of the benefits pets can receive from an organic and natural diet:

  • Decreased chance of allergies
  • Longer life expectancy
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Increased energy levels
  • Fewer digestive disorders
  • Healthy, shiny coat

NomNomNow delivers fresh, pre-portioned meals (for both cats and dogs), made from restaurant-quality ingredients packed with healthy proteins, vitamins, and minerals. 

As the name implies, Only Natural Pet’s goal is to find innovative, holistic health and wellness products for dogs and cats.

Auto-ship program

Many online pet stores offer shoppers the opportunity to join an auto-ship program which lets customers schedule regular deliveries of the pet supplies they are consistently buying. With auto-ship, pet owners can add the product(s) they wish to receive consistently into their cart, choose how often they want to receive their items, and watch as the items are delivered straight to their door. Most companies will also let customers change the frequency of the delivery schedule, delay an upcoming shipment, or cancel for any reason. 

Most likely, your credit card will be charged automatically on the date that the order is shipping, but some customers may see a pending charge as soon as the company begins to prepare an order.

Chewy offers 30 percent off to new customers for signing up for their auto-ship program*.

PetFlow shoppers can get $30 off their auto-ship of $65+ when using the code 10x3*.

*All coupon and discount offers have individual restrictions or limitations, which may limit the total dollar amount discounted, the applicable items, brands, purchase dates, order type or more. Offers are subject to changes.

Shipping and delivery fees

Before ordering your pet supplies, be sure to check out the company’s shipping and delivery policies. While most online pet stores will offer free shipping, you might have to spend a certain amount to qualify; if you don’t qualify, you could be subject to paying a flat-rate fee or even paying for the size and weight of the package. If you are located outside the continental United States, you may have to pay for your supplies to be delivered via air delivery.

Drs. Foster and Smith offers free economy ground shipping on all orders $19+ and on orders containing a prescription or a flea and tick control product. For orders less than $19, customers will have to pay a flat-rate charge of $6.99.


If a product doesn’t work out or you are unhappy with the quality, most pet stores will allow returns. However, the time you have to return the item will vary depending on the company.

Most online pet stores will allow shoppers to return items within 30-60 days.

Benefits of ordering from an online pet pharmacy

Buying pet medication can often be a time consuming and difficult task. Fortunately, you have a few options when it comes to online pet pharmacies. Some of the many benefits of ordering your pet's medications online include the following:
Find specific medications easily: Most local pharmacies will have limited stock. While this isn’t usually too much of a problem, it can be inconvenient when your pet needs a particular medication. An online pet pharmacy typically will have hundreds of different medications, meaning you’ll be able to get Fido feeling better in no time.

  • Saves time: Ordering online eliminates the time you’d normally have to take going to the pharmacy, waiting in line, and then driving back. The medication will be delivered to your mailbox 
  • Save money: Many online pharmacies offer substantial discounts or monthly promotions which can drastically reduce the price of your pet's medications. We suggest you wait for a monthly promotion or discount code — if the situation allows — to help save on medication expenses.
  • Expand your options: Even though pet pharmacies are known for providing prescription medications, they often will sell flea and tick control, medicated shampoos, and other pet health supplies.


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Online Pet Stores Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I buy pet supplies online?

Buying your pet supplies online has many benefits. Online ordering can help pet owners who don’t have much free time, struggle driving, or are looking for a specific product or medication. One of the best things about ordering all your pet supplies online is the fact that heavy bags of dog food or cat trees are delivered right to your door, so you don’t have to worry about carrying large items through the store and fitting them in your sedan.

Should I enroll in an auto-ship program?

This will depend on how often you are currently buying supplies. If you have a large dog that goes through bags of food quickly, then enrolling in an auto-ship program is a good idea.

Another benefit to enrolling in an auto-ship program is the fact that many companies will offer a 5-10 percent discount on specific brands or products.

How often does a recurring delivery come?

Pet owners can choose how often they want their pet products to be delivered (depending on the company). Typically, pet owners can choose to have their products delivered anywhere from weekly to every few months.

How long will it take to get my order?

Again this will vary depending on the company and what you ordered, but a few online pet stores offer free two-day shipping on specific orders. However, it could take anywhere from five to seven days or two to three weeks.

How do I know which items require a prescription?

Most items will have a section where it states whether or not the item needs a veterinarian prescription. Some sites may include a small symbol next to the product name to indicate whether or not a prescription is necessary. However, when checking out, there should be a section where pet owners will have to include their pet and vet clinic information.

Which online pet store is best?

There is no shortage of online pet store companies for you to choose from, it all just depends on what you’re looking for. Some pet owners are simply looking for more a wide variety of products and brand names and would be happy with companies like Chewy, Petco, PetSmart, and PetFlow. Pet owners who are looking for a store that provides more natural and organic products should look into pet food and supplies from NomNomNow and Only Natural Pet.

When it comes to online pet stores, you have plenty of options. Before you start shopping for Fido and Fluffy, do your research and find out which company is best for you and your furry family member.

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