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What are the Best Pet Stores in the U.S.? Comparison of PetSmart and Petco - Which is Better?

Updated on April 2, 2016
PetSmart: a welcoming sight!
PetSmart: a welcoming sight! | Source

What is Your Favorite Pet Store?

Taking a trip to the pet store is an exciting excursion for my dog and me. Not only does Gizmo get to take a car ride, but he gets to go to one of the best places around to sniff and smell, and hopefully catch a glimpse of a cute, furry, little girl dog. We have a couple of pet stores in the area to choose from, and we have picked out our favorite. Occasionally we’ll drop in at Petco, but our favorite pet-friendly shopping spot is PetSmart.


Is Petco or PetSmart Better?

PetSmart and Petco are big name pet stores, offering a variety of pet supplies, including pet foods, toys, an other supplies--even cute little pet clothes. (Yep, very much needed for the little dogs that get cold.) Over the years, PetSmart has been the pet store to mostly meet my shopping needs. However, Petco is a good pet store, too; I can’t deny that. They do have some unique points of service. One of the positives is the selection of high quality food. They seem to carry more of the acclaimed natural and holistic cat and dog foods, such as Organix, Pinnacle, and Holistic Select. For a store of their size (pretty small in my town, and quite a bit smaller than PetSmart), they carry a huge variety of pet foods for dogs and cats.

PetSmart also carries a large variety of pet food but not some of the holistic stuff I’ve mentioned. Still, they carry some high quality names, such as Avoderm, Wellness, and Blue. Plus, one thing that keeps me going back to PetSmart are the coupons I get in the mail from them, as well as the regularly lower prices than Petco, even without coupons.


Kittens: Take me home!
Kittens: Take me home! | Source

Live Animals at PetSmart and Petco

Petco and PetSmart differ in their live pet offerings, but both are fun to visit. When Gizmo and I enter PetSmart, we go straight for the cat cages. I try not to get in trouble for tapping on the glass while Gizmo pays more attention to the admiring attention he gets from human shoppers. He is so used to felines (five of his own at home!) that he hardly notices cats--whether in the pet store or on the streets where we walk. But he's a patient fellow, content to look around and get a few pats on his head as he waits for me to be silly with the cats, all of whom I want to take home.

Our Petco just started having a place for cats, but they have housed ferrets for as far back as I can remember. Both places have an impressive collection of fish and quite a few birds, too.

I wonder if it’s the ferrets that make the stink, because Petco always has a strong smell permeating throughout the store. It’s not enough to turn anyone away, but I prefer the clean, organized aisles of PetSmart—and the fresher scent. Still, I like to visit Petco from time to time, especially when I need something that PetSmart doesn't carry.


A Pet Christmas at PetSmart

I had to hold Setzer while Santa held Gizmo. Gizmo isn't a big fan of Santa Claus, but he is used to him. Setzer is not, but she did very well!
I had to hold Setzer while Santa held Gizmo. Gizmo isn't a big fan of Santa Claus, but he is used to him. Setzer is not, but she did very well! | Source

Friendly Pet Store Employees--and Santa Claus!

Gizmo and I also like the attention we get at PetSmart. We both are greeted at the front door and spoken to by PetSmart employees as we meander through the store. There seem to be a lot of folks who take their dogs to the store with them, so we nearly always have interesting visits, either with other pets or their owners.

One of our most interesting visits is in December when Santa comes to see the pets. A not-so-thrilled Gizmo sits on the big guy’s lap, and I usually have to join him to make sure he doesn’t try to jump down. The last couple of years, we’ve added a cat to the photo. Surprisingly, so far that has worked out. I’m always glad to see that I’m not the only doting pet owner dragging those poor ole pets out to get their pictures with Santa. The experience is totally worth it--for the pet owners at least!


Little Sissy playing with a bulldog puppy shortly after meeting him. Our trainer is amazing!
Little Sissy playing with a bulldog puppy shortly after meeting him. Our trainer is amazing! | Source

Training at PetSmart and Petco

I have known for some time that PetSmart offered training. When Gizmo and I would go in, sometimes we would see a group training in session. When I finally seriously considered training, Gizmo was growing older, and well, you know what they say about old dogs learning new tricks . . . .

Sadly, Gizmo passed away shortly before his 11th birthday. Still grieving but searching, I found a sweet dog in a shelter a few months later that reminded me of Gizmo. This was a white, fluffy female, but what really got me was the look in her eyes and her sweetness as she licked me through the kennel and then nuzzled her face in my neck when I held her. Her sweetness was a healing balm I needed to help get me through my grief, a grief that continues while I enjoy this new little life.

It wasn't until a few weeks after adopting Sissy that I realized she turned into a demon when she met other dogs! Who would have thought it from such a sweet little doll! A woman I met who runs a rescue offered to pay for half of Sissy's training, recommending a trainer at Petco. After one individual session, we started socializing in sessions with other dogs. I would never have thought Sissy would settle down enough to play with a BULLDOG! Since then, she attended a dog walk at a local park, sniffing every dog she met after an initial freak-out with the first dog she saw.

I'm not saying that every experience will be the same. The guy Sissy and I went to is a certified behavioral trainer. He does more than just teach the basics, but deals with behaviors. Still, looking into your local pet stores for what kind of training your dog needs is an option. And in my case, it makes me feel more fondly towards Petco!


Vote on your favorite!

What is your favorite pet store?

See results

Discounts at My Favorite Pet Store

There are other quality pet stores out there. The Only Natural Pet Place has just that--natural products for your pets. ThatPetPlace has whatever supplies you would need for any pet, including reptiles! Whatever your preference, there are some great stores out there. I’ve even ordered online before from PetSmart and had cat food delivered to my door! I don’t get to do that much anymore since my dog insists on monthly visits to the pet store.

There are some great online deals, though, for pet food and supplies through PromoPro. If you’re so inclined, check out the PetSmart coupons if it’s your favorite like mine. Or take a look at Petco discounts or some of the other pet store deals at places such as Pet Food Direct or National Pet Pharmacy while you're there. Whatever your favorite, you can’t help but be pleased with these quality pet stores.


PetSmart Charities saves lives! See dog #50,000!

© 2012 Victoria Lynn

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    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      PegCole--My boy has very sensitive skin, too. I've tried about every food, but he still chews and scratches. I've been trying supplements, coconut oil, etc . .. . too. Maybe one of these days I'll stumble upon the right solution. Glad you liked the hub--and the video! :-)

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Cute and informative. I loved the happy video at the end. Wonderful. We have PetSmart here in Texas where I go to get the Nutra pet food that doesn't contain grains like corn. She has allergies, poor thing.

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      HI, Susan! I've never been to a Pet Valu. I love pet stores, too! Thanks for stopping by!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I'd rather go to the Pet Food stores than the grocery stores :) We have Pet Smart stores here too but the closest to me is about a 45 minute drive. I do love going there at Christmastime to shop for toys. In town we have Pet Valu stores.

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Glimmer--Yeah, it's one place that I don't dread going to! :-)

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      5 years ago

      We love going around pet stores. It's fun to see all of the products and all of the animals that come in to visit. Nice hub!

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Effer, We used to have a Pets Plus here. I liked it but it was pretty small. I think it went out of business once Petco and PetSmart came into the picture. Yep, we spoil them. I had a friend in grad school who would often say that he wanted to be reincarnated as one of my cats! LOL!

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      teaches--Thanks for the input! PetSmart is pretty popular, it seems!

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Ruchira, that's cool that you go there even without a pet. It's a nice place to visit!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 

      5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Pets Plus is the biggest one here......in size and variety......and we can bring our pets in with us. I don't always shop there for my pet supplies, because it's 30 miles away. But when there are a lot of things I need for my canine and feline children, I will make the trip, because I also have a discount card for Pets Plus.........We all spoil our babies way too muc, Vee!! In fact, in my next life, I want to be a cocker spaniel with an owner like me!!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      Don't have a pet at the moment, but when we did it as PetSmart we shopped for almost everything. Interesting post and very informative.

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Rolly--My dog enjoys sniffing all the treats at his level, too. That's a neat thing for them. Glad your Quigley enjoys it, too. I wish, too, that mine could buy his own choices. I spoil him too much!

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 

      5 years ago from United States

      I agree...it is petsmart!!

      I don't have a pet but, do wander there at times with my kid to get a feel of it and that is a pet-friendly store :)

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Joyce---I hope you have a PetSmart. That store is very pet-friendly!

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 

      5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Vicky... we have Petsmart here in Canada ... and I must tell Quigley our little dog loves it. She finds all the right smelling treat right at her height. We are attempting to figure out how she can go shopping now and pay for all her choices on her own. The staff are amazing...

      Hugs from Canada

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Lord, Hi!! Parking, too! You are correct, my friend. I didn't think of that. Yes, Gizmo always picks out the best places. For some reason, Wal-Mart won't let him in!!!

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      5 years ago from Southern Nevada

      I have to find out where PetSmart is here. Great hub. Thank you for tell us all about PetSmart.

      Voted up and interesting, Joyce.

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Thanks, Carol! Pet stores are very important in my little (or not so little!) family!

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 

      5 years ago from New York

      Wonderful job, love Petsmart and its variety. They always have great parking space and their customer service is neat. Petco and Walmart come close, but I go with Gizmo's choice!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      5 years ago from Arizona

      Great hub and analysis of the different stores. Thanks for taking the time to share all this great information.

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Thanks, Bill! I love PetSmart! Gizmo and I really enjoy going there. Thanks for reading!!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good job Vicki! It's PetSmart all the way for us, but that's only because it is our only choice of the big chains. :)

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