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Best Pet Stores

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Read this guide to research and discover the best pet stores for you. We compared businesses that sell dogs, cats, fish, birds, reptiles and other small pets. The pet stores also sell the products and supplies to care for animals, and many offer pet services like washing, grooming, nail clipping and flea treatments.

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What pet store features matter most?


While you can find basic pet supplies at many types of stores, you should choose a store that offers a good value. Value describes the quality of product you can purchase for the price. While some stores have cheaper prices, the quality of their products might suffer, so the store’s overall value might not be ideal. Consider what quality of product matters to you and your pet and how much you can afford to spend when deciding whether a store’s selection offers the value you need.

  • Price: Nearly every pet supply, from food to toys to accessories, can be found at many distinct price points. You can, for example, find dog food that ranges in price from less than a dollar a pound to over $13 a pound. Choose a store that carries products you need at a price you can afford.
  • Quality: Just like price, product quality varies among different brands and products at different stores. You should look for products that are well made and have a good reputation. Ideally, a store should offer a guarantee on their products, which will help you feel better about your purchase if you’re unsure of the quality.


You can save time and money in shipping costs or gasoline if you can make all your pet-related purchases at one website or brick-and-mortar store. Consider the pet or pets that you own and their particular needs. For example, if you own a dog, you’ll not only need to purchase food and treats regularly, but you might also need items like a leash, collar, grooming supplies, toys, flea and tick preventative, a bed or crate, puppy training pads, vitamins or supplements, crates and gates.

  • Pets offered: Some pet stores sell animals or participate in pet adoption programs. If you are in the market for your new best friend, you will want to find a pet store with a good reputation for ethical treatment, fair prices and informational support for the lifetime of your pet. You’ll also want to find out whether the store offers health guarantees and whether or not they have a return policy for live or dead animals.
  • Pet types serviced: You can save time and money by shopping for all of your pets in one location. Find out whether the store you’re interested in offers supplies for each type of pet you own. Most pet stores carry supplies for cats, dogs and fish. If you have an exotic pet or are interested in supplies for farm or work animals, check to be sure your store carries the right supplies you’ll need.
  • Variety: Most stores have options that vary in price, quality, size or appearance when it comes to purchasing individual items. You may or may not care much whether you have a choice of brand, style or package size when you’re purchasing items like leashes or aquatic plants, so whether you opt for a large store with a big selection or a smaller store with just one type of what you need is a choice that depends on your individual preference.
  • Luxury items: Some people consider their pets to be members of the family and will purchase only the best products, but not every store offers niche brands or boutique-style items. If you want to purchase high-end pet care supplies, you’ll have to look at a store that offers these options.

Pet health and conditions

Some pet stores sell live animals, either as their main business or in addition to other retail activities.  You should check to see that the store practices responsible, ethical treatment of their animals. This will help ensure that your pet will be happy and healthy when you bring it home.

  • Animal origins: Stores that sell animals should disclose where their animals are from, including where their parents were bred and where they were born and raised. You will want to know the name of the breeder or supplier, as well as whether or not they have any necessary accreditations or certifications. Be sure to ask about your pet’s health history.
  • Appearance of animals: As you browse a pet store, you should look at the physical appearance of the animals for sale. Check out whether they appear healthy. They should appear happy and not scared or skittish, and should seem to be well-fed and unstressed.
  • Living conditions: Look to see whether the pets in a store are kept in clean cages with a clean water supply and fresh food. The cages should be kept free of debris and waste, and they should not be overcrowded.
  • Terms of sale: When purchasing a live animal, check whether the store’s policies keep the animal’s best interests in mind. For instance, if you are purchasing a dog and find that it is a bad fit for your family, a responsible store should be willing to take the dog back (even if they charge a “rehoming fee” for their trouble). If you are purchasing a fish or other short-lived animal, a responsible store should offer a health guarantee for a reasonable period of time after purchase and allow you to return sick or deceased animals for a refund or exchange.
  • Lifetime support: Many stores will offer support over the lifetime of your pet. For instance, if your pet becomes sick or you need advice on how to train it, you may be able to call your store and ask for advice or information. While this policy will vary from store to store, it is a good feature to look for, especially if you are purchasing a pet that will be a part of your family for a long time.

Location and availability

Many pet stores have both an online and brick-and-mortar presence, allowing you to choose what buying venue suits you best. If not, you’ll need to choose whether you prefer a store with online purchasing options or if you prefer to browse in person.

  • Physical stores: Brick-and-mortar stores offer you the opportunity to browse products and supplies at your leisure and to pick up last-minute items that you might not have time to wait for. You’ll want to find a store that is in a convenient location near your home, work or other stores you frequently shop.
  • Website purchasing: Shopping for pet supplies online is a convenient option and can be especially beneficial if you are very busy, homebound or prefer shopping in the comfort of your own home.
  • Store hours: Check to see whether the store is open at hours that are convenient for you. Many large retailers are open 24 hours a day, while some smaller pet stores may have more restricted hours. Online stores are open all the time but may have certain hours when you can chat with a customer service representative if you need help choosing an item or completing a purchase.

Purchase policies

Every store has different policies regarding purchases, returns and guarantees that might make you more or less likely to choose them as your pet supplier.

  • Autoship or subscription options: Many pet store websites offer the convenience of auto shipping products you need on a regular basis, such as pet food or medicine. You can choose how frequently to receive the product, and your credit card will be automatically charged each time the product ships. Check to see whether your online pet store offers a discount for subscribing to products.
  • Sales, coupons and deals: Many pet stores offer regular sales on different types of items, often seasonally or by department. Some stores also accept manufacturer coupons or offer their own store coupons.
  • Return policies: Some stores do not accept returns on products that have been opened or used, so if you purchase a new brand of pet food and find that it doesn’t sit well with your pet’s stomach you’ll have to eat that cost. Other stores will accept returns if you have a receipt or within a certain time frame (such as 60 or 90 days), and yet other stores have unlimited return policies for any reason. Be sure to find out if you are responsible for return shipping on items purchased online.
  • Guarantees: Many pet stores stand by their products and offer a money-back guarantee. If you are making a major purchase or purchasing an animal, be sure the company offers a guarantee and will accept a return if the product or animal does not work out for you.
  • Secure payment: Particularly if you are buying online, you will want to be sure that the company has a secure payment portal that won’t compromise your financial information. Before typing your credit card or other payment information, look for a small padlock icon in the web address bar and check to see that the web address begins with the letters “https” and not “http” (the “s” stands for “secure”).

What types of pet stores are there?

Live animal retailers

Some pet stores sell live animals as their main business practice. They may also carry a limited amount of supplies for the types of pets they sell. These stores often specialize in one or two types of pets, such as cats and dogs or birds.

Domestic pet stores

Most pet stores, especially in cities and suburban areas, specialize in domestic pets like cats, dogs, fish, birds and small animals like hamsters and gerbils. These stores might carry supplies for all types of domestic pets or specialize in select varieties. Some stores also provide services for domestic pets like boarding or training.

Exotic or unique animal stores

If your pet is not a cat, dog or fish, you should choose a pet store that specializes in your particular type of animal. For instance, some stores specialize in supplies for amphibians, reptiles, exotic pets or farm animals.

Who are pet stores for?

Pet owners

Many pet stores carry supplies for pets such as cats, dogs, birds, fish, reptiles, horses or exotic pets.

Potential pet owners

Some pet stores specialize in live animals and can be a good option for people in the market for a new pet. Some pet stores only sell a limited number or type of pet, such as puppies only, while others offer a selection of various types of pets including fish, cats, dogs and others.

Pet stores FAQ

What do pet shops sell?

Pet shops (or pet stores) sell pets and pet-related items, but many pet stores have discontinued the sale of larger pets like dogs and cats. Some larger pet stores even offer grooming, training and pet prescriptions. Other than dog and cat food, the most prominent items you will find in most pet stores are:

  • Pet food
  • Pet toys
  • Pet treats
  • Fish and reptile tanks/accessories
  • Flea and tick treatments
  • Pet accessories
Are cats allowed in pet stores?

Most pet stores allow people to bring cats, but remember to keep them adequately restrained and vaccinated, and to call the business before visiting to make sure.

Are dogs allowed in pet stores?

Most pet stores welcome dogs with proper restraints and vaccinations, but it’s always best to call and make sure dogs are allowed. Bringing your dog into the store is the best way to pick out his or her favorite treat.

Do pet stores declaw cats?

No, pet stores do not declaw cats. In fact, declawing a cat is highly discouraged by several animal welfare organizations, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and The Humane Society of the United States.

Do pet stores take animals?

No, most pet stores don't take animals. If you want to drop off an animal, most pet stores will point you in the direction of a local animal shelter. If you purchased a smaller animal or need to return a dog or cat, it will depend on the individual store's return policy.

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