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Home > General > Chewy vs Petco: Which One to Choose? Our 2024 Comparison

Chewy vs Petco: Which One to Choose? Our 2024 Comparison

Thanks to the rise in online shopping, Chewy and Petco are two of the biggest, most popular “go-to” pet supply companies. When faced with a choice between two huge suppliers, it can be tricky to determine which one you’d rather give your hard-earned money to. Chewy and Petco both have their strengths and weaknesses, but is one better than the other?

In this comparison, we’re going to look at Chewy and Petco side by side and evaluate what each supplier has to offer in terms of product selection, pricing, shipping, and customer service. Finally, we’ll take a look at each supplier’s reputation in different areas. We hope this will help you make a decision as to whether Chewy or Petco is the supplier you want to buy from.

divider-multipet A Quick Comparison

Chewy
  • Established: 2011
  • Headquarters: Boston & Florida
  • Product lines: Pet food, treats, pet care supplies, toys, accessories, prescription items, and more
  • Owned by: PetSmart (formerly), BC Partners
Petco
  • Established: 1965
  • Headquarters: San Diego
  • Product lines: Pet food, treats, pet care supplies, toys, accessories, prescription items, and more
  • Owned by: Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, CVC Capital Partners

Brief History of Chewy

Chewy was founded in 2011 by Ryan Cohen, who was 25 years old at the time, and Michael Day. Cohen’s original plan was to create a jewelry company, but a trip to his local pet store convinced him to change his mind and go into business in a field that interested and mattered to him—pet care. Chewy was originally called “Mr. Chewy”.

From 2012, sales started to grow and by 2015, Chewy had hit $423 million in sales. Chewy became famous for its outstanding customer service, which extended to sending oil paintings of pets and handwritten notes. BC Partners acquired Chewy in 2015, and PetSmart in 2017. PetSmart later split from Chewy, and now the two operate independently of each other.

Brief History of PetCo

Petco had its beginnings in 1965 as a mail-order company dealing in vet supplies. It was originally named “UCPO”, but the name changed to “Petco” in 1979. The first Petco store was opened in 1980, and, by the late 1980s, Petco was growing rapidly. It started out selling live fish in a California store and later began to accommodate other types of pets.

By 1994, Petco was booming as the largest pet supply chain. By this point, there were 218 stores open across the U.S., and by 2008, there were stores open in every U.S. state. The company later expanded to Puerto Rico, Mexico. In 2019, Petco stopped selling dog and cat food products containing artificial ingredients—a move that solidified the chain’s move into marketing itself as a health and wellness company.

close up of a dog eating from the bowl
Image Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych, Shutterstock

Chewy Manufacturing

Chewy sells products from a wide selection of brands, including Blue Buffalo, Royal Canin, Hill’s Science Diet, and American Journey, so the products are manufactured in various locations with ingredients sourced from several different locations worldwide.

According to Chewy’s website, it works closely with thousands of reputable brands to ensure quality and sources its prescription items from FDA-approved manufacturers.

Petco Manufacturing

Like Chewy, Petco supplies products from various brands, including Royal Canin, Hill’s Science, Blue Buffalo, and Wellness. This means that the products are manufactured in several different locations with ingredients sourced from various locations worldwide.

That said, we know that Petco does not source cat and dog treats made in China due to safety concerns, and, according to John Sturm (vice president at the time this change was announced), the treats sold by Petco are manufactured in the U.S. and other locations, including New Zealand, Australia, and the Netherlands.

Chewy Product Line

Chewy sells pet supplies in a range of categories, including the following:

Pet Food

Chewy supplies food, prescription diets, treats, and supplements for several kinds of pets, including cats, dogs, birds, small animals, reptiles, farm animals, fish, and horses.

Pet Care Products

This includes items like litter, litter boxes, cages for small pets, aquariums, fish tanks, bedding, substrate, cleaning products, flea and tick treatments, and so on.

Toys and Accessories

Chewy supplies pet toys and accessories like chew toys, collars, training tools, leashes, climbing apparatus, beds, etc. It also caters to pet parents looking for items like memorials, blankets, picture frames, and kitchenware.

Medicines

The Chewy pharmacy caters to those in need of dog, cat, or horse medications. Examples include flea and tick treatments, antibiotics, and pain relief medications. You’ll need a veterinary prescription to purchase certain medications from the Chewy pharmacy.

One thing that stands out to us is that Chewy’s pharmacy menu offers you the opportunity to “connect with a vet”. This feature is free for auto-ship customers, but non-auto-ship customers need to pay a fee to chat. Pet insurance is also an option with Chewy.

Petco Product Line

Like Chewy, Petco specializes in pet care supplies, also selling products from some of the same brands as Chewy does. The product selections differ somewhat, however. More on this later.

Pet Food

Petco’s range of pet foods is vast and caters to the same kinds of pets as Chewy does. However, Petco does not sell foods containing artificial ingredients, so it places special emphasis on only supplying the highest-quality foods.

Pet Care Products

Like Chewy, Petco supplies general pet care products like litter, litter boxes, crates, kennels, bedding, etc. The list is endless!

Toys and Accessories

Some of the toys and accessories we found in Petco’s selection include chew toys, training toys and equipment, plush toys, and small animal and reptile hideouts.

Medicines

Petco’s online pharmacy, like Chewy, gives you access to a variety of medications, both prescription and non-prescription. Petco also offers insurance and veterinary services, which take place in in-store vet clinics.

divider-multipet Chewy vs Petco: Price

We checked out some popular pet care foods and items on Chewy and Petco to get a general idea of pricing. If you’re looking for the short answer, Chewy has got a slight edge over Petco pricing-wise.

Chewy

We found that, in terms of cat and dog food, pricing for several big brands like Hill’s Science and Royal Canin appears to be the same. However, certain products, including pet foods and pet care products like cat litter deodorizers, were cheaper on Chewy. Chewy is famous for its deals, with its “Today’s Deals” page filled with products at half price, a discounted price, and two-for-one offers.

Petco

As Petco is known for its emphasis on quality and not selling products with artificial ingredients, the pet foods it sells are simply not going to come cheap. However, as mentioned above, many of the pet foods we checked out that are for sale on both Chewy and Petco were the same price, with some exceptions.

Both Chewy and Petco sell high-quality products, but Chewy has more inexpensive options. Like Chewy, Petco offers some products at a discounted price. You can check these out on its “top deals” page.

Chewy vs Petco: Shipping

Here, we’ll take a look at Chewy and Petco’s shipping options to find out if one has an edge over the other. Short answer—Petco has an edge in this department.

Chewy

Chewy sells its products online only as the company doesn’t have its own stores. If you spend more than $49, you can have your items shipped for free within 1–3 days. If your order is under $49, the shipping fee is a flat rate of $4.95. Chewy doesn’t offer same-day delivery.

Autoship sets you up for repeat deliveries. The first time you set it up, you get 35% off your first order and, afterward, you’ll get 5% knocked off future orders. Autoship customers can also benefit from Chewy’s “connect with a vet” feature for free.

Petco

Unlike Chewy, Petco has its own stores, so you can either buy in-store or online. If you choose to buy online, a $35 or more purchase of certain products means you can benefit from free same-day delivery, though exclusions do apply. Otherwise, the shipping fee is $5.99. In addition to same-day delivery, Petco offers standard delivery (2–5 days), 2-day delivery, and next-day delivery.

Customers in Alaska and Hawaii can expect their orders in 3–6 business days, and customers in U.S. territories can expect their orders in 7–13 days. You can also pick up your order in-store if you live near to one. Like Chewy, Petco has a repeat delivery service. Petco’s repeat delivery service entitles you to free delivery on all of your orders over $35 and adds points to your Pals Rewards membership if you have one.

To sum up, Petco offers more shipping/pickup options and a lower minimum order fee to qualify you for free, fast delivery. Chewy’s standard shipping rate is cheaper, but its minimum order fee for free delivery is higher than Petco’s. Petco wins the shipping round.

divider-multipet Chewy vs Petco: Customer Service

If you’re purchasing online frequently, knowing your customer service options for when you have questions, concerns, or issues with your orders is crucial. Let’s take a look at how Chewy and Petco compare in this department.

Chewy

When we checked out Chewy’s customer service options, we were immediately impressed by the number of possible ways to get in touch. You have three options—send them a message, give them a call, or chat live with a representative.

We always appreciate live chat options, as this tends to get your problems solved and questions addressed much quicker. We also love the fact that you can chat with a vet via Chewy—for free if you’re an auto-ship member and for a fee if you’re not.

User reviews point to an overwhelmingly positive customer service experience with Chewy, with a large percentage considering their experience “excellent”. Some users noted that they greatly appreciate how personalized and genuine Chewy’s customer service feels.

online shopping
Image Credit: PhotoMIX-Company, Pixabay

Petco

Petco’s “contact” page is what we’d call “sparse”. We found one option for getting in touch—by phone. We did a little more digging and were able to find a customer service email address on another page and a “chat with an expert” option on Petco’s home page.

So, there are a fair few options for getting in touch, but we just feel that it might be better if the contact page displayed all of the methods in one place instead of spreading the information across different pages.

Unfortunately, there were an overwhelming number of negative customer service reviews for Petco. Several users expressed frustration about the difficulties they faced when trying to get information on refunds, exchanges, or shipping and found the representatives they chatted with to be unhelpful. On this basis, Chewy wins this round hands down.

Head-to-Head: Chewy vs Petco – Pet Food Product Selection

Both Chewy and Petco stock products from well-known brands, but Chewy has a better product selection in all areas we checked out, including dry dog and cat food and wet dog and cat food. Chewy also has more reptile food and small animal food options.

As mentioned previously, one of Petco’s biggest pros is that it doesn’t sell products made with artificial ingredients, but, on the other hand, this can be rather limiting, especially if you’re on a budget. To conclude, we consider Chewy the better option in terms of product selection.

Our Verdict: Chewy has more pet food options and is more budget-friendly.

Head-to-Head: Chewy vs Petco – Pet Toys & Accessories Product Selection

Both Chewy and Petco have a wide selection of pet toys ranging from as cheap as a dollar or two to super fancy, high-tech toys costing hundreds of dollars. Chewy appears to have more pet toys on offer in general, but one thing we noticed is that its cat toy selection in particular is far broader than Petco’s.

In terms of accessories like harnesses and leashes, Chewy beats out Petco once again, but by a slimmer margin. Kudos to Petco for their cat trees and scratchers selection—we found a wider range of these products than Chewy offers.

Our Verdict: We checked out toys and accessories in different categories and found that Chewy, on average, has more products in these categories. However, Petco’s cat tree and scratcher selection is better.

Sum Up: Company Reputation

Finally, let’s bring it all in with an overall recap of how Chewy and Petco measure up in terms of how they’re viewed by the people who buy from them.

Customer Care

Edge: Chewy

Chewy has a near flawless reputation when it comes to caring for customers and handling issues. They’ve even been known to send out flowers to bereaved pet parents and ask customers to donate refunded products to animal shelters instead of returning them.

On the other hand, Petco’s reputation in this department is less than savory. In short, Chewy’s kind, personal touches and attention to detail have contributed to its reputation as a caring company.

woman with dog checking out Chewy Affiliate Program
Image Credit: nakaridore, Freepik

Website User-Friendliness

Edge: Chewy

Both Chewy and Petco’s product menus are similarly laid out and named, but Chewy has an edge because its contact page is more straightforward and gives you all the information you need in one place.

Chewy’s main menus (shop, pharmacy, etc.) appear in writing at the top of the home page, which we find helpful. Petco’s main menu is accessed by a tab in the top left-hand corner, which opens up into individual categories.

Chewy’s product subcategories appear immediately when you click on one of the menu tabs—nice and simple to navigate. This is similar to Petco’s site, but the subcategories have less of an “organized” feel.

In the grand scheme of things, this is a minor gripe, and by no means is Petco’s website difficult to navigate. However, overall, we find Chewy’s site slightly easier to find our way around.

History/Controversies

Edge: None

Petco is a company that has had its fair share of controversy. It appears that Petco has been subject to lawsuits in the past over allegations that animals in its care were not properly cared for. Other allegations against Petco include failure to properly compensate employees. Chewy, too, has been subject to lawsuits—in particular, allegations of false advertising of dog food products.

divider-multipet Conclusion

The verdict’s in—from our research and reviews left by those who have bought from Petco and Chewy, we consider Chewy to have an edge over Petco in the following areas: customer service and care, product selection, website navigation, and pricing. Petco has an edge in the choices it makes regarding quality and its shipping and delivery options.

Taking all of this into account, we consider Chewy to be the overall winner on this occasion. We hope you’ve found this review helpful and informative and now have a better idea of where you’d like to buy your pet supplies.

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