Pet parents may be charmed by BarkBox’s customized boxes, in-house product design, and promised convenience. But before you hit that “subscribe” button, you’ll want to know—is BarkBox worth it?
BarkBox is only one of many pet supply companies jumping on the bandwagon of skyrocketing online pet supply retail. They offer four subscription box plans, and their prices are generally affordable considering both their product offerings and convenience.
Let’s explore what BarkBox has to offer to determine the worthiness of its convenience premium.
What is BarkBox?
BarkBox is one of four subscription box plans offered by Bark, a New York-based startup founded in 2012. Bark’s four subscription box plans include:
- BarkBox, a custom combination of toys, treats, and a chew
- Bark Super Chewer, essentially a BarkBox for aggressive chewers
- BarkBright, a dog dental care subscription box
- BarkEats, a custom, individually packaged meal subscription
All plans deliver Bark brand products—the toys, dental products, and meals are designed and formulated in-house and some can also be purchased individually from their webstore.
The standard BarkBox plan includes:
- Two Bark brand toys
- Two Bark brand treat bags
- One Bark brand chew
Edible products can be tailored to a dog’s dietary restrictions and allergies, and Bark curates different themed boxes every month. Subscribers can choose their box theme or opt for a surprise theme.
Pet parents can also select an all-toy box for no extra charge. They’ll have the option to customize toy durability and specify what kind of toys (tugs, plushes, and squeakers, for instance) their dog likes best. Finally, customers can also add a third toy to each box for an additional monthly charge.
Whether dog owners leave the contents of each box up to chance or choose to customize their items, BarkBox’s standard plan offers something for every dog.
Bark Super Chewer Plan
Does your dog ruin new toys in record time?
The Bark Super Chewer Plan is essentially the same as the standard BarkBox plan, but the toys included are more durable and are designed with aggressive chewers in mind. Super Chewer boxes also include an additional chew.
As a show of their commitment to durable toys for dogs with a hearty chomp, toys in the Super Chewer plan can be replaced free of charge if they don’t withstand a dog’s destructive tendencies.
With a slightly higher price tag than the standard BarkBox, the Super Chewer plan is tailored specifically to dogs who are tough on toys.
The BarkBright plan operates similarly to BarkBox and Bark Super Chewer, but the box insead contains a month’s supply of dental chews and toothpaste. Bright products are part of the Bark brand, and they’re designed and formulated in-house.
One of the first systems of its kind, the Bright toothpaste is used in tandem with the dental sticks. Dog owners simply have to squeeze a small line of toothpaste into one of the ridges of a dental stick and let their dog handle the rest. The ridges in the dental stick scrub a dog’s teeth while the toothpaste works its magic.
As with the BarkBox and Bark Super Chewer packages, pet parents simply have to specify their dog’s size (small, medium, or large). Bark also touts that Bright products are safe for cats.
BarkEats is like Hello Fresh for dogs. Each box contains:
- 28 individually packaged meals
- Kibble toppers to entice dogs to chow down
- Supplements for coat improvement, joint health, and more
The only items in a BarkEats box that can be purchased individually from the Bark website are supplements, including:
- Prebiotics and probiotics
- Joint supplements
- Calming aids
The kibble and toppers are exclusive to the BarkEats plan.
The Pros of BarkBox
For simplicity, we’ll refer to all four plans above as, simply, “BarkBox.” And aside from the convenience of a subscription model, BarkBox offers several potential benefits.
Firstly, BarkBox is pretty affordable, and its prices will impress shoppers looking for great deals.
- A standard BarkBox plan is $23/month for a 12-month, per-month subscription, and $19.50/month for a 12-month subscription paid upfront.
- A standard Super Chewer plan is $30/month for a 12-month subscription, and boxes are the same price if you pay by the month.
- A BarkBright plan is $30/month for a 6-month subscription or $35/month for a per-month subscription. Both are billed monthly.
- BarkEats plans are customized based on dietary restrictions, pet owner preferences (like opting for grain-free meals), and pup size. Without the addition of additional supplements, the average BarkEats plan is around $50/month for a medium-sized dog. Customers are billed monthly.
While prices for individual products on their webstore are slightly more expensive than most pet supply online retailers, the convenience of pre-packaged boxes may be worth the price for some pet parents.
Convenience is another boon to BarkBox’s appeal. For dog parents working exclusively from home, making a special trip to an in-store retailer for pet supplies can be a drag. With a scheduled delivery of toys, treats, chews, dental supplies, or food, pet owners can scratch one task from their regular list of errands.
The Cons of BarkBox
Unlike the occasional discounts or rebates pet owners can expect from other online or in-store pet supply retailers, BarkBox only offers promotional pricing for subscribers’ first box. While their pricing is generally affordable, bargain hunters should expect to pay full price for the majority of their subscription term.
BarkBox, however, does have a sale section for individual items in their webstore.
Beyond the dearth of sales and promotions, other downsides include:
- Average quality – BarkBox’s pricing represents the industry standard for subscription boxes, pet supplies, and convenience services, but customers shouldn’t expect any luxury products. While Bark touts improved durability and quality for their toys (especially Super Chewer toys), their treats, dental products, food, and supplements aren’t particularly unique or premium.
- No refunds – Additionally, if customers have prepaid for a subscription and decide that the box isn’t right for their pets, Bark does not issue a prorated refund. Prepaid subscribers will continue to receive boxes for the duration of their prepaid subscription, a potentially wasteful endeavor if pet owners simply dispose of the contents.
- Potential to overfeed – While BarkEats boxes contain pre-packaged portions tailored to individual dogs’ weight and dietary habits, the treat bags included in some subscriptions don’t account for a dog’s daily calorie intake or weight. While vets recommend that treats only comprise ten percent of a dog’s daily calorie intake, the abundance of treats delivered may encourage pet owners to overfeed treats to keep bags from piling up in the pantry.
Beyond BarkBox: Explore Your Options with RebateKey
So, is BarkBox worth it?
Armed with more information, you’re more equipped to decide if BarkBox is right for you and your pet. If you’re willing to pay extra for convenience, customized packages, and subscription services in general, BarkBox will satisfy you.
But if you’re a bargain-hunter to the core, willing to drive across town to chase the best deals, BarkBox may seem like wasteful spending.
At RebateKey, we love finding discounts, deals, and rebates for savvy shoppers, including proud pet parents. But we’re also committed to teaching our users how to find deals, stop paying full price, and save money on everyday necessities—our blog offers a wealth of knowledge for seasoned couponers and rookie bargain hunters alike.
If you’re looking for the best deals on products you buy every month—clothes, food, and even pet supplies—RebateKey has your back.
Forbes. Change is Coming to the Way pet Products Are Sold. https://www.forbes.com/sites/richardkestenbaum/2020/06/22/change-is-coming-to-the-way-pet-products-are-sold-amazon-chewy/?sh=101657917276
Forbes. What Every Dog Wants this Election, BarkBox Says its AI Can Predict with 60-65% Accuracy. https://www.forbes.com/sites/martineparis/2020/10/31/what-every-dog-wants-this-halloween-barkbox-ai-knows/?sh=5942805440b0
American Kennel Club. How Many Treats Can Your Dog Really Have? https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/how-many-treats-can-dog-have/