As two of the biggest retailers in the pet segment, Petco and PetSmart get compared so often that a lot of people confuse them for the same company.
So, to help you determine which is which before deciding which is the better option for you, we’ve come up with a full comparison, so keep reading!
Petco Vs PetSmart In 2023
Petco and PetSmart are two of the largest national retailers focusing on pets. They both sell live pets, pet supplies, and accessories, and they both have several physical stores and online platforms. They also carry many of the same products, but each has its own brands. PetSmart has more stores and a much higher annual revenue than Petco in 2023.
We’ve compared Petco and PetSmart for this article, including their prices, return policies, shipping, and more, so keep reading for more facts!
What’s the Difference Between Petco and PetSmart?
Petco and PetSmart are separate companies with no ties to each other; they are not owned by the same company, and neither owns the other.
Petco was founded in 1965 in San Diego, and PetSmart followed more than 20 years later in 1987 in Phoenix.
Both companies offer pet related services alongside their products, but PetSmart is the only one with an in-house boarding service through more than 200 PetsHotel locations.
Petco only recently started offering these services through a partnership with Rover.
Rover connects third party service providers to customers, much like Uber or Airbnb, so the overall quality of Petco’s boarding services might be lower than PetSmart’s.
Petco has stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Mexico, while PetSmart has stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada.
Both of them have customer service departments that are available every day, but they operate on different schedules.
Petco’s customer service is available via call between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. PST, while PetSmart’s team is available only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. EST.
Petco does not drug test its employees, but PetSmart makes everyone in all departments take a drug test before they get hired.
Is Petco or PetSmart Better Quality?
According to most sources, Petco carries a wider variety of products, but PetSmart’s selection of items is better.
Both PetSmart and Petco have their own in-house brands, but Petco carries more products from third party manufacturers.
Several customers say that PetSmart’s staff seem to be more knowledgeable than Petco’s on matters to do with live animals specifically.
This seems to be due to the company’s strict policies on employee conduct, as hinted at by its drug testing policy in the previous section.
However, Petco is the first and currently only national retailer that has stopped selling dog and cat food items that are made with artificial ingredients such as color, flavor, and preservatives.
If you’re concerned about feeding your pet only with food made from natural ingredients, then this decision might mean higher quality for you.
Who Is Bigger- Petco or PetSmart?
By most measures, PetSmart is far bigger than Petco, despite starting operations more than 20 years later.
For starters, Petco’s most recently announced annual revenue was about $4.9 billion, whereas PetSmart’s was $7 billion.
Petco also has fewer stores than PetSmart, at 1,500 compared to 1,650.
The company’s employee numbers are also a major area of difference, with Petco at around 27,000, and PetSmart at around 55,000.
Petco Vs PetSmart Ethics
We looked at the practices of both Petco and PetSmart, and we didn’t find one to be significantly more or less ethical than the other.
Both companies have taken similar steps to ensure their businesses are seen as ethical, most notably offering cats and dogs up for adoption, as opposed to selling them directly.
However, PetSmart had to stop the practice, whereas Petco never sold dogs and cats, to begin with.
Each of these companies has also set up a foundation for their charitable activities. Petco has Petco Love, formerly called the Petco Foundation, while PetSmart has PetSmart Charities.
These organizations are the ones that work with rescue shelters and other animal welfare organizations to facilitate adoptions, in exchange for funding raised through donations and adoption fees.
We have found reports of both retailers having their animals in less than ideal conditions, but this seems to be something that’s almost unavoidable with the kind of businesses they’re running.
For example, fish will naturally be crowded in a tank in order to save space in a store, while ensuring they have enough stock to meet customer demands.
They also get their stock from similar suppliers, or the same ones like Fish Mart in some cases, meaning that any unethical practices from breeders will affect both.
Both retailers are also constantly getting called out by animal rights activists and organizations like PETA for similar reasons.
Petco Vs PetSmart Prices
Petco and PetSmart have more or less the same prices, despite having different products.
Most sources we’ve found on the subject will have different results, with some saying that Petco is cheaper than PetSmart and vice versa, but the results you get depend heavily on the items you look up, and it’s always a toss up.
Both Petco and PetSmart will price match each other both online and in-store, though, so you can always get lower prices, regardless of where you buy an item.
Petco Vs PetSmart Training
Both Petco and PetSmart have dog training classes available, but they have some differences that could be the deciding factor for most dog owners.
While both Petco and PetSmart have online and in person groups, and one on one dog training classes, Petco is the only one that allows you to choose from private and group sessions.
Petco also has separation anxiety classes to help your dog learn to stay on its own, but PetSmart does not.
However, PetSmart has potty training classes, which we could not find at Petco.
Petco Vs PetSmart Return Policy
Both Petco and PetSmart allow you to return items you bought, either from physical stores or online within a set amount of time.
At Petco, it’s within 30 days of buying it, while at PetSmart it’s within 60 days.
Petco doesn’t accept returns if you don’t have the original receipt with you, while PetSmart accepts returns without a receipt, but your refund will be based on the most recent sale price.
Both Petco and PetSmart don’t accept returns on prescription medication products.
Petco Vs PetSmart Shipping
Petco and PetSmart have roughly similar shipping policies.
For starters, both of them have stores with a large presence across the country, making it easy for most people to get same day shipping.
Both Petco and PetSmart have free shipping on orders above a certain amount, $35 and $49, but PetSmart limits this perk to members of its Treats program.
Both of them also have a service that allows customers to set up automatic deliveries for items they get frequently.
At Petco, it’s called Repeat Delivery, while PetSmart calls it Autoship.
Repeat Delivery and Autoship have a large discount that you can apply to your first purchase and smaller discounts across all other shipments.
Petco Vs PetSmart Rewards
Both Petco and PetSmart have loyalty and rewards programs, called Pals and Treats respectively, and each grants access to different perks.
While there are similarities in how you sign up and earn points, Petco’s loyalty program gives you 1 point per dollar, while PetSmart’s gives you 8 points per dollar.
With this system, you can earn points faster, and redeem them for rewards, such as free pet related services much sooner.
Petco and PetSmart have little affiliation with each other in terms of ownership. PetSmart was formed more than 20 years after Petco, but it has managed to grow its revenue to a larger amount and have more stores.
PetSmart offers dog boarding directly, while Petco offers it through a partnership with Rover. Both companies have taken steps towards ethical business like adoption, only for cats and dogs, but there are still concerns raised by animal rights activists and some customers.