How to Shop for your Dog at the Local Thrift Store


Pinched pocketbooks have spelled success for thrift stores, and today there’s a bigger selection of shops than ever. Most carry goods for the entire family, and with a little bit of repurposing, that includes purchases for your dog.

When shopping at your thrift store, be sure to watch for dog items that can be thoroughly cleaned either with a good scrubbing or in the washing machine. Here are supplies that make perfect thrift store finds:

Bowls Stainless steel bowls are good buys and very easy to find at most thrift stores. Expect to pay as little as $1to $2 each for these nearly indestructible bowls. Most won’t be specially designed for dogs (no cute bone motifs) but will often be mixing bowls or salad bowls and stocked with the household goods.

Large Floor Pillows These make excellent dog beds if your dog is beyond the chewing phase.

Used Towels Handy for everything from bedding to dog baths, used towels cost about one-quarter of what you would pay for new ones.

Comforters, Bedspreads and Quilts These can be used as dog bedding, or as couch covers — they’re far less expensive than slipcovers.

Heavy Jeans These make great chew-proof dog beds, since denim is often heavier than what you’ll find at the fabric store. For less than $5, you can make a chew-proof dog bed stuffed with rags or old sweaters.

Baby Gates Need to restrict your dog from certain rooms of your house? Baby gates at thrift stores sell for a fraction of the price of dog gates and perform the same function.

Dog Toys More human toys than dog toys can be found at thrift shops. Infant and toddler toys are especially good buys for dogs because they’re manufactured with the assumption that they’ll be chewed. Remove any hard pieces, such as metal or plastic eyes, from stuffed toys. Skip soft plastic toys that might be too easy for a dog to chew up and swallow.

Outdoor Fun You can make your own agility course and playground with children’s outdoor play items, from plastic sandboxes (fill them with sand for digging dogs or with water for splashing pups) to toddler slides and small picnic tables.

Just like other stores, most thrift stores have special sale days as a way to move older merchandise, meaning times when you can often save up to 50 percent on already low prices. It pays to ask, so you can fetch the best deals for your dog!

Paris Permenter and John Bigley are the founders of  and the authors of Barkonomics: Tips for Frugal Fidos. The husband-and-wife team lives with its two rescue dogs, Irie and Tiki, in Texas.

Image via Thinkstock

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