Subscription Box Insanity: BarkBox vs. Petbox (Oct. ’14)

W doing some product testing.

W doing some product testing.

In case you are tuning in for the first time, let me introduce Wednesday, my slightly spoiled fur-baby who is, in reality, a four-year-old Doberman Pinscher. She is beloved, that’s for sure!

To prove it, I’m putting her two (two?!) subscription boxes- BarkBox and Petbox– head to head to see if a clear winner will emerge. (Though who am I kidding? She will probably continue to get both. -sigh-)

I will actually also be reviewing a special, limited edition Petbox that I ordered on its own, later this month. So stay tuned for some doggy goodness that is also doing good for a cause I really believe in. #spoileralert

On to the show!

See my other Petbox reviews here and my other BarkBox reviews here.

THE DETAILS:

BarkBox is for dogs only and allows you to somewhat personalize your monthly boxes based on the size of your pet. So Wednesday’s box is for larger dogs of course. It is normally $29 a month but I decided to get a full year subscription and, with a coupon I had, got the boxes for about $17 a month. Not bad if you have a heavy chewer like we do. We’d spend at least that much a month on chewing bones, treats, and toys that die quick deaths so it saves us some time having them delivered to our door. The monthly price includes shipping and the box will ship throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Petbox caters to both dogs and cats (and even, possibly, other pets like pigs based on a line I read on their site). They do not currently ship outside of the U.S. and a single box from the deluxe plan (2-3 items a box) will run you $19.95 a month (includes shipping). Groupon recently had a deal, so I picked up the three-month deluxe subscription for $32.99 total- i.e. $10.99 a month. One difference with Petbox is that you can be surprised every month or you can hand-pick your items, so there seems to be quite a bit of flexibility. Especially for those of you with both dogs and cats since you can mix items for both pets in one box. Also, for each box shipped they donate a meal to a rescue animal; there is a place on their site for rescue organizations to sign up to be partners.

BARKBOX REVIEW

Happy Howl-o-ween!

Happy Howl-o-ween!

Here’s the cute, Halloween-themed paper that came with this month’s box. A nice touch!

First look!

First look!

And now for the big reveal! BarkBox usually includes a fun card stating the theme (Halloween). On the opposite side, a list of the items in the box and their codes are available for quick re-order.  I’ve never used this service, which involves texting in with the reorder code. So if any of you have, let me know how it is? By the way, I believe nearly all of the items BarkBox sends are made in the U.S. which is just another reason this subscription is a winner in our books.

Mummy toy

Mummy toy

I loved this Halloween-themed toy, a long, flat Plush Puppies Squeaker Mat that looked like a mummy. It has both crinkly plastic inside as well as squeakers. The only thing I’m worried about is that it is so flat and thin. W will have to wait to get this one as I suspect she may tear it apart pretty quickly. It retails for $8.99.

Pumpkin treats

Pumpkin treats

Next up is Max & Ruffy’s organic dog treats in Pumpkin Patch. W loves pumpkin so these will be the next treats I open for her, once she gets through the bag we are currently on. This size retails for about $3.87.

Rabbit jerky

Rabbit jerky

Wascally Wabbit! We’ve never given Wednesday any rabbit so we’ll see how she likes this. My guess is she will. Made by Hare of the Dog, this seems to be a deluxe sample size so I’m estimating retail value at about $2.50.

Snicky Snacks

Snicky Snacks

More treats! We try not to give W too many, so we have quite a few treats stored away for her. Still, they seem to keep well and on the bright side, we won’t need to buy any for awhile. I like the name of this company, Snicky Snaks, though I’m a little less sold on whether she will like the flavor of Cinnamon Crunch. This item retails for $2.

Beef Chew

Beef Chew

This Butcher’s Block beef chew, on the other hand, will go quick. As you can see, it is another treat made in the USA. I couldn’t find this item online to compare so will go with the BarkBox retail value of $3.

Squeeki skull

Squeeki skull

I’ve saved the best for last! Petprojekt’s Squeeki Skull was a surprising hit! In fact, though it (obviously) squeaks, which normally would have driven W to shred this to get the squeaker out, she has actually taken a big shine to this toy. These days, where ever she goes, Mr. Bones is sure to be somewhere nearby. Which usually means on the couch beside us, in front of her crate at night, on the bed in the morning…beside us. Thankfully, neither the husband nor I are unnerved by the sight of a cheekily grinning skull hanging around. This item retails for $8 but in W’s eyes, it’s priceless!

Mr. Bones & W

Mr. Bones & W

In evaluating her haul, you can see from this picture that W is content.By my calculation, the total dollar value comes to about $28.36. That’s more than the discounted $17 I paid, but less than last month, and slightly less than the normal monthly price of $29. Hmm. I guess I’ll see how Petbox does before I make any final judgments on how I feel about that.

PETBOX REVIEW

Petbox is here!

Petbox is here!

First look: We've fed a hungry pet!

First look: We’ve fed a hungry pet!

The first of three months of Petbox has arrived! Their packaging does a great job of reminding you that your purchase has also done some good for a homeless pet. Nice!

First look...lots of goodies!

First look…lots of goodies!

The first look has already impressed me. Looks like at least four items (the deluxe version only promises 2-3) which is great.

Water Buffalo chewie

Water Buffalo chewie

A very large chewie treat that looks suspiciously like an ear. It is in fact a water buffalo ear which made W very happy, though she doesn’t have any clue what one actually is. This retails for $1.99 and the Aussie Naturals website notes that the water buffalo it came from was a domestic one, free-range and grass fed. I hadn’t any idea these were raised in Australia for meat and a website I stumbled upon noted that many health-conscious Australians prefer this over beef.

Dog food sample

Dog food sample

This Evanger’s Low Grain dog food (Whitefish & Sweet Potato formula) was a 1-cup sample. Online reviews seem to be favorable but Wednesday, besides being persnickety about her tastes, also has a delicate stomach. I poured it in her bowl just now and despite the pellet-like size, she is chowing down! Well she does like sweet potato. Hmm, may have to consider switching. This sample retails for about $1.67.

Chicken jerky treats

Chicken jerky treats

More treats! W loves treats but that doesn’t mean she should have them. Still, these It’s Purely Natural Chicken Jerky treats are made in the U.S. and appear to exclude a lot of unhealthy ingredients. I found these online for $2.99.

Travel water bowl

Travel water bowl

The last product was this Alcott travel water/food bowl. I actually had been meaning to get one since W (did I mention she was persnickety) can’t be coaxed to drink out of a communal water bowl anywhere we go. Even if we refill it fresh. So what normally happens is I pour water into my husband’s hands and she drinks it up from there. Yes. This really happens. As you can see from the picture above, we tested this out on our last adventure and W went to town! Yes! This one retails for $9.99.

So the grand total value for this box is $16.64. With my coupon I got each box for $10.99 but a normal deluxe box runs for $19.99. I’m a little torn now on how I feel about this box because while I liked all the products I received, the value for this first box was pretty low and had I paid full price, I would have felt a bit cheated.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Okay, so now for the head-to-head comparison:

  • NUMBER of ITEMS: This month’s BarkBox had 6 items– two toys and four treats. Petbox had 4 items– three treats and one non-treat item. BarkBox wins.
  • TOTAL VALUE: Barkbox had a total value of $28.36, or $4.73 per item. Petbox had a total value of $16.64, or $4.16 per item. BarkBox wins.
  • VALUE vs. MONTHLY COST GAIN: I paid $17 for Barkbox, so I experienced a gain of $11.36. I paid $10.99 for Petbox, so I experienced a gain of $5.65. BarkBox wins.
  • INTANGIBLES: W loved the squeaky skull toy in BarkBox. We loved the travel water bowl. Tie between Petbox and BarkBox.

It looks like that BarkBox came out ahead this month. However, I’ve got two more boxes from PetBox coming in the months ahead, so we will see who wins the “battle of the pet boxes” over time. Now to go see where Mr. Bones is hanging out these days…

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3 thoughts on “Subscription Box Insanity: BarkBox vs. Petbox (Oct. ’14)

  1. Thanks for this timely review. I’d heard of BarkBox, but just learned of Petbox today. Neither service seems to have the option for only puppy-safe items (e.g., no rawhide) so it looks like I can put off deciding between them for a while.

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    • Thank you for your comment! So with Petbox you can actually choose each item in your box, so you have complete control over what’s in the box. With BarkBox, I think you can contact them and/or add a comment or note with your order requesting no rawhide items and/or items geared towards puppies. You should check in with them to see; I bet they’d answer back pretty quickly. Hope that helps!

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    • Just a heads up, I’ve subscribed to Barkbox for over a year and they never send rawhide, pretty sure that’s company policy since they strive for high quality treats and toys. From there, if you are skeptical about giving your pup anything meant for an adult dog, I would just throw it in a drawer. I haven’t gotten anything that doesn’t keep well.

      I actually let my subscription end because my dog isn’t a heavy chewer and doesn’t get as many treats in a month as the boxes contain, so I have way too much stuff. I’ll resubscribe eventually though. I really like they give a lot of stuff-able toys that dogs have to work at, also, I got a water bowl in one of my boxes too one month.

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