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A happy-looking dog with a dog toy in a backyard.

Even with life returning to some semblance of normalcy, online shopping still has a lot of appeal. And if you have a pet, you can also get a nice discount on supplies.

According to Nielsen, online pet care sales grew 2.5 times in 2020 from a year earlier. “A significant jump in sales growth was due to the pandemic,” says Greg Doonan, a senior manager for external communications at Nielsen.

After shopping at physical stores plunged during the pandemic, many retailers upped their online game to entice customers. Big pet retailers in particular began offering discounts on your order if you opted for curbside pickup. You could also get free same-day delivery or free shipping, depending on how much you spent.

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And of course, loyalty programs can help you save more. Trust me, the points can really add up: I recently received a discount of $38.11 off my total purchase via the Petco Pals Rewards program.

I racked those up by combining points earned from both online and in-store purchases from only a couple months’ worth of shopping. (Granted, I needed a ton of cat food one month because my kitten couldn’t stop eating.)

Though I shop at Chewy regularly and occasionally at PetSmart, Petco often offers great rewards if you frequently need one-off items. Chewy, though, will often have the best prices on boxes or bags of pet food. So reward points and discounts aside, even if you see a deal, check with the other retailers to make sure it’s a good price to start.

Whether you care for one pet or more, here’s advice on how you can save online when you shop at major retailers like Chewy, Petco, and PetSmart, as well as at small online pet stores. Your furry, scaly, or slimy friend will thank you, and so will your wallet.

Before You Shop

Join the retailer’s loyalty program. Whether you shop online or in a store, this is a great way to earn savings and discounts. The Petco Pals Rewards and PetSmart Treats programs, for instance, are easy to join, and your purchases earn you points over time. Both programs require a certain number of points before they issue a coupon toward your next purchase.

Petco Pals Rewards offers 1 point for every dollar spent (each point equals 5 cents); once you’ve earned 100 points, Petco automatically applies a $5 coupon, which it calls Pals Rewards Dollars, to your account.

In addition, Petco Pals Rewards members get special discounts on services. For example, for $19 per month, you can sign up for the Vital Care service and get unlimited tooth brushings for your pet, nail clippings for dogs, and vet exams for most pets. Vital Care also gets you a monthly $10 coupon to use toward your purchases.

The PetSmart Treats loyalty program offers 8 points for every dollar spent (each point equals 2½ cents). The points are redeemable after you earn 1,000 of them, equivalent to $2.50. PetSmart also sometimes gives customers bonus points during certain promotions, birthday gifts for your pet, and special discounts on certain items. (I saw one deal where PetSmart offered three times the points you’d normally receive on certain brands of pet food.)

Just be aware that rewards points can expire. Petco Pals Rewards points expire 180 days from issuance, and for every 100 points you earn, you have 45 days to use them. With PetSmart Treats, for every 1,000 points you earn, you have 13 months from issuance to redeem them.

Download the store’s app. You may be able to earn points using the retailer’s app. When I checked pet retailers’ apps, I found that PetSmart’s app gives you 1,000 bonus points for downloading it, which translates to $2.50, enough for a 12.5-ounce can of Blue Buffalo dog food. PetSmart also says it sometimes offers special in-app-only sales.

Sign up for their newsletters. Smaller or more niche pet stores might not have loyalty programs or app-specific deals, but they may advertise special sales and major holiday deals through email newsletters. BinkyBunny, Small Pet Select, That Pet Place, Vivid Aquariums, Modern Aquarium, Buce Plant, and Marine Depot sometimes offer discounts between 20 and 25 percent off single items by email, usually with a coupon code.

While You Shop

Check the discounts page. Make it your first stop on a retailer’s website. Petco’s monthly offers page, Chewy’s Today’s Deals tab, and PetSmart’s Sale tab all show current discounts. Petco, for example, will sometimes have a $1 per gallon sale on fish tanks that it will announce on its sales page. You can get a 55-gallon fish tank that’s usually worth $150 for $50, which is a steal (until Petco sells out of the them).

Consider curbside pickup. While not many retailers offer discounts on curbside pickup, it’s worth checking to see. For instance, choosing curbside pickup at Petco can save you 25 percent on orders of more than $50.

Did you leave something? If you logged on to the company’s website when shopping (which you should, so you can rack up those loyalty points), try closing out of the browser window and leaving items in your cart. You might get a nice surprise via email.

Petco, for example, sends you an email with an extra 10 percent off your cart if you haven’t moved forward with your purchase. (That happened to me recently when I couldn’t decide whether to buy another fish tank.) Chewy and PetSmart send a reminder email, but when I tried it out, they didn’t offer additional discounts.

Sign up for auto shipping. Does Rover or Mittens stick to the same diet? You can save if you opt for automatic repeat shipping of your order. Petco offers 35 percent off your first repeat shipping purchase and 5 percent off on each additional order. Chewy and PetSmart offer 30 percent off your first repeat shipping order, and an additional 5 percent off each subsequent order.

Spend enough for free shipping. Shipping is free for both PetSmart and Chewy orders when you spend $49. Petco offers free shipping when you spend $35. However, some items, like bulky dog crates or heavy kitty litter, may incur shipping charges.