The Ultimate Expert Tips For Buying Used Pet Supplies

As someone who used to work at a secondhand marketplace, I’m excited to share with you my insider tips for buying used pet supplies, including what to look for, what to avoid, and how to do it safely!

three dogs in kitchen looking at camera

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The Benefits of Buying Secondhand Pet Supplies

I spent several years leading the product and design teams at a large, online secondhand marketplace. And during that time, I grew an even greater appreciation for how the buying and selling of used goods contribute to the circular economy.

By choosing pre-loved items, we can actively reduce waste and extend the lifecycle of pet products like dog crates, toys, and beds (and, of course, non-pet products too).

If you don’t have time to get into all the details right now, save the below pin for later.

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Think about it – every secondhand pet bed or toy you purchase is one less item that ends up in landfills. It’s not just about giving unused pet items a good home, but also about making a positive impact on our planet.

Plus, the affordability of secondhand goods can’t be overlooked. High-quality items at a fraction of the retail price make pet care more accessible, ensuring your beloved pup enjoys the best dog accessories without breaking the bank.

Truly, embracing the resale market for pet supplies is a win-win-win situation for pet parents, local communities, and our environment.

graphic showing the high level stages of circular economy strategy

With all that said, you need to be aware of a few things before heading down the path of buying used pet supplies (or any used product for that matter). So keep scrolling for my best tips for buying used pet supplies!

Where to Find Secondhand Pet Supplies

I am happy to say, there are numerous options available! As a consequence of the massive amount of things we produce and buy as humans, many stores, online platforms, and community groups have emerged to facilitate the buying, selling, and exchange of used goods.

Depending on where you live in the world, you’ll likely have a few options to explore.

logos of companies that sell secondhand goods

Online Marketplaces

Through these digital platforms, individuals can buy and sell various items, including pet supplies. A user-friendly interface and simple listings allow for quick searches and price comparisons, ensuring you snag high-quality items at affordable prices.

A lot also now help with facilitating both the payment and shipping and even have free shipping sales throughout the year.

Some popular online marketplaces include:

Online Communities

There are a growing number of communities on platforms like Facebook where users can connect with others who share similar interests, including the buying and selling of used goods.

Look for groups dedicated to pet care in your local area. This can lead to personal connections with other pet owners looking to pass on their beloved pet’s gently used supplies.

These platforms not only offer great deals but also promote a sense of community among pet lovers. Search for:

  • Buy Nothing Groups:
  • Pet-Specific Buy/Sell/Trade Groups:
    • [Your City/Area] Pet Buy/Sell/Trade
    • [Your City/Area] Pet Supplies Exchange
    • [Your City/Area] Pet Classifieds
  • Breed-Specific Groups:
    • [Your Breed] Owners Buy/Sell/Trade
    • [Your Breed] Rescue/Adoption Groups
    • [Your Breed] Marketplace
  • Local Community Groups:
    • [Your City/Area] Community Swap & Sell
    • [Your City/Area] Neighborhood Pet Exchange
    • [Your City/Area] Pet Lovers Community

Thrift Stores

If you prefer to shop in person, this is a great option to find secondhand goods at discounted prices. which can feel like treasure hunts for pet parents.

Among the shelves and tables of a thrift store, you can often find gently used dog toys, beds, and even crates. Thrifting is an approach that environmentally conscious shoppers should consider versus buying new.

Look for locally owned thrift shops in your area. In addition, here are some large, well-known companies:

Garage (or Yard) Sales 

I grew up with garage sales! In the spring and summer, individuals or even neighborhoods create events to sell items they no longer need from a physical location, such as their homes, garages, and community centers.

Of all the options, garage sales are the best places to find the absolute best deals, as people are trying to sell as many unwanted items as possible in a short amount of time. You may have to do some digging, but even one great find will make it worth it!

Find upcoming garage sales by searching for:

  • Local Community Garage Sales
  • Estate Sales
  • Neighborhood Yard Sales

Online Auctions

What to Buy Secondhand

If you’ve ever browsed through the Facebook Marketplace, you’ve probably noticed that people will try to sell just about anything. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for giving a second life to as many things as possible. But, depending on what you’re shopping for, not all secondhand purchases are created equal. 

Smart Items to Buy Secondhand

The Basics

Items like food and water bowls, dog-walking gear, and grooming tools are generally safe to buy secondhand as long as they are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before use.

Specifically, look for stainless steel food and water bowls, adjustable collars, leashes, brushes, and combs.

Pet Clothing

Clothing items like sweaters, coats, raincoats, and costumes are often gently used and can be purchased secondhand at a fraction of the cost of new items.


Many durable pet toys can withstand multiple uses and are perfectly safe to purchase secondhand. Just ensure they are clean and free of any damage.

Examples include rubber chew toys, durable plush toys, and enrichment or puzzle toys.

Travel Supplies

Items used for travel, such as portable pet carriers, foldable crates, collapsible travel bowls, and car seat covers make for some fantastic secondhand purchases.

In particular, I love finding used crates, as these can be quite expensive new!

mini dapple dachshund puppy in small travel dog carrier
mini dapple dachshund and pug mix dog sitting together in wire crate

Pet beds, scratching posts, and cat trees are often available secondhand and can be cleaned and refurbished for use in your home.

pug mix dog and mixed breed dog lying together on dog beds

Secondhand Items to Avoid

As you can see, there are a lot of pet supplies that are perfectly suitable to buy secondhand. However, it’s a good idea to steer clear of items like dog food that is opened or has an unidentified expiration date.

Additionally, avoid items made from both soft and plastic materials that show visible signs of wear, as this could compromise your pet’s safety. In particular, be wary of worn plastic bowls, as these are much more likely to harbor bacteria than those made from stainless steel.

I’ll get into more details on how to inspect used items in the section below. 

Safety Tips for Buying Used Pet Supplies 

When it comes to tips for buying used pet supplies, we need to talk about more than just the products themselves.

While buying and selling secondhand goes smoothly in the majority of cases, unfortunately in our world today, there are always people looking to take advantage of others.

So here’s a comprehensive list of crucial safety tips to ensure a confident and secure transaction:

Platform Transactions

If possible, complete your purchase and arrange for shipping directly on the platform where the item is listed. Most platforms now include protections for both buyer and seller…but only if your follow their steps.

The good news is these steps are there to make the transaction easier and safer, so I 100% recommend you take advantage of any payment and shipping services available. 

Public Places

If shipping is not offered through the platform, always arrange to meet in public locations. This decreases any risk and ensures both parties’ safety. 

Home Safety

Never invite sellers to your home, nor go to theirs. Stick to neutral ground. If the seller asks you to meet at their home, suggest an alternative public location nearby. 

Cash Caution

If an online payment option is not available, avoid carrying large amounts of cash and use extra caution. Digital transactions are preferable for record-keeping and safety whenever possible.

If there is the possibility to pay online but the seller insists on receiving cash or asks you to pay outside of the platform, this could be the sign of a scam. 

Scam Vigilance

Stay alert to potential scams. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is so don’t engage.

And always check sellers’ reviews and ratings for past transactions and suspicious behavior. If your gut tells you something seems a little bit off, trust yourself.

Here are some common behaviors to look out for:

No Feedback or New Profiles

Sellers with no feedback or very recent profiles may be less trustworthy.

While new users aren’t always scammers, it’s something to be cautious about, especially if combined with other warning signs.

Likewise if a seller has an oddly high number of reviews, this can be a sign that the reviews (and the profile) are fake.

Inconsistent or Vague Descriptions

Listings with very little information, stock photos, or descriptions that don’t match the images provided could indicate that the seller doesn’t actually have the item.

Too Good to Be True Deals

Be wary of tems listed at extremely low prices compared to their market value. Scammers often use this tactic to attract buyers quickly.

Refusal to Provide Additional Photos or Information

A genuine seller will typically have no problem providing more photos or details about the item. If they refuse or make excuses, it might be a scam.

High-Pressure Tactics

Scammers will try to create a sense of urgency by claiming that many other buyers are interested or that you need to act quickly.

This can pressure you into making a hasty decision without proper due diligence.

Poor Grammar and Spelling

Messages full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors can sometimes be an indicator of a scammer, especially if the rest of their communication seems off or scripted.

Pre-Payment Requests

Asking for payment before you see the item or offering to ship the item after payment is a serious red flag.

Legitimate sellers will be willing to transact through the platform, including payment and shipping arrangements.

Or if the platform doesn’t have such options, they will be willing to meet in person and exchange goods for payment simultaneously.

Requests for Off-Platform Transactions

Scammers may ask you to continue the transaction outside of the marketplace to avoid detection. This could involve communicating via personal email, phone, or a different payment method.

Never give a seller your personal information and always keep as much of the interaction inside the platform as possible.

External Links and Verification Codes

Scammers may send to you links to “other products”. These links may lead to a malicious website that could steal your personal information.

Additionally, requests for a verification code to “validate your profile” is a flag that the seller is trying to gain access into your account.

Complicated Payment Methods

Requesting payment via wire transfer, gift cards, or other non-traditional methods which are difficult to trace and recover is almost definitely the sign of a scam.

And if there is a payment option through the secondhand platform, but the seller insists upon a different method, such as CashApp, Zelle, Venmo, Paypal, etc., this should be taken as a red flag.

Reluctance to Meet in Public Places

A legitimate seller will usually agree to meet in a public, safe place. If a seller is insistent on meeting in a private or secluded area, it’s a red flag.

Claims of Being Out of Town

Sellers who claim they’re out of town but can ship the item to you are often trying to avoid face-to-face interaction to prevent you from inspecting the item.

However, if the secondhand platform you are using offers shipping as a service, then there is less to worry about in this situation. This is because if the item never arrives or is not as described, the platform provides buyer protection and you will receive back your money.

By staying aware of these behaviors and taking precautions, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to scams on secondhand marketplaces.

Inspecting Secondhand Items Before Purchase

To ensure the wellbeing of your beloved pet, always inspect secondhand pet supplies thoroughly before purchase.


First and foremost, scrutinize the item for signs of wear and tear.

For items like plastic or wire crates and bowls, look for cracks or significant scratches where bacteria might lurk, threatening your pet’s health.

And for soft items like dog beds, toys, and pet clothing, signs of excessive use, such as tears and frayed edges, may not only indicate a of lack durability but could pose choking hazards.

Also, when assessing textiles, the sniff test is crucial. Odors can be a tell-tale sign of underlying issues, easily overlooked but potentially unsafe for both you and your pet. 

Expiration Dates

Checking expiration dates on consumables like food or treats is non-negotiable. Even though it may seem like a great way to score a deal, the health risks associated with expired products are a gamble not worth taking.

And, always avoid buying food and treat products that have already been opened. It’s impossible to know if they have been contaminated, whether internally or unintentionally.


For electronics, such as automatic feeders or toys, ensure they are fully operational. It’s a good idea to ask for a demonstration or test the item yourself, preventing the disappointment of a non-functioning gadget once you’ve made it home. 

Item History

It’s also wise to inquire about the item’s history from the seller, whether it’s via an online store or at a local community garage sale. This not only helps in making an informed decision but also in building personal connections within your local pet community.

Ultimately, the pursuit of secondhand pet supplies is not merely about finding affordable prices but ensuring that these items contribute positively to your pet’s life without compromise.

These guidelines will help ensure you can fully appreciate the benefits of buying secondhand! 

Cleaning & Sanitizing Purchased Items

Cleaning and sanitizing secondhand pet supplies is an important task, even those in good condition. So let’s delve into the essential steps to ensure those previously loved items are ready for their new home. 


Begin by giving each item a thorough inspection. Look for any signs of wear or damage that might harbor bacteria or pests


For soft items like dog beds or pet clothing, a good wash in the washing machine with a pet-safe detergent is the easiest way. Opt for hot water if the care labels allow it.

Hard items such as plastic crates, bowls, or toys can be washed with a mixture of warm water and vinegar, an excellent natural disinfectant. Ensure to rinse these items thoroughly afterward. 

Allow all items to dry completely before introducing them to your pet. Sunlight can be a great natural sanitizer for items that are safe to leave outdoors.

Remove Stains

Some items may benefit from a light scrub with baking soda, especially for stubborn stains or odors. Baking soda is non-toxic and pet-safe. 

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Integrating Secondhand Items into Your Pet’s Routine

To ensure a smooth introduction, start with items that are easy and safe to incorporate—perhaps a gently used pet bed or toys.

First, let’s focus on the health and happiness of your pet. When introducing any secondhand items, ensure they’re thoroughly cleaned and sanitized; your pet’s well-being is paramount.

Gradually place the items within your pet’s environment without making a big fuss. Sometimes, placing a personal item, like a gently worn t-shirt of yours, on or near the new-to-them bed or toy can help them accept it as part of their comfort zone.

Remember, the goal is to make thrifted finds a delightful discovery for your pet. Patience and observation are key.

Allow your pet to explore these items on their own terms, and soon they’ll likely claim them as their treasured possessions.

Not only does this practice support a circular economy, but it also fosters a home environment that values sustainable solutions, care, and affordability—all in the name of love for our pets and our planet.

So…are you going to skip the pet stores and give secondhand pet supply shopping a go??

FAQs: Tips for Buying Used Pet Supplies

Why should I consider buying pet supplies secondhand?

Buying pet supplies secondhand can save you money while also reducing waste and promoting sustainability. Many pet items, such as crates, toys, and accessories, can be gently used and in great condition, making them a cost-effective and eco-friendly choice.

What types of pet supplies are safe to buy secondhand?

Safe secondhand items include crates, carriers, toys, bowls, collars, leashes, and non-perishable grooming tools. Always ensure these items are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before use.

Which pet supplies should I avoid buying secondhand?

Avoid buying secondhand pet supplies that are difficult to sanitize or pose health risks, such as worn bedding, litter boxes, and perishable items like food and treats. These items can harbor bacteria or pests.

Where can I find secondhand pet supplies?

You can find secondhand pet supplies on online marketplaces (like Craigslist, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace), social media groups (such as Buy Nothing Groups), thrift stores, garage sales, and online auctions.

How can I ensure the quality of secondhand pet supplies?

Inspect items thoroughly for any signs of damage, excessive wear, or potential safety hazards. Check for recalls and ensure that items meet current safety standards. When possible, ask the seller for the item’s history and how it was used.

Are there any red flags to watch out for when buying secondhand pet supplies?

Be cautious of sellers who are unwilling to provide detailed information, photos, or allow you to inspect the item in person. Also, avoid deals that seem too good to be true or pressure you into making a quick purchase.

How should I clean and sanitize secondhand pet supplies?

Clean items with pet-safe disinfectants. For hard surfaces, use a mixture of water and mild detergent, followed by a disinfectant. Soft items like collars or leashes can be washed with hot water and a pet-safe detergent.

What should I do if the secondhand item doesn’t meet my expectations?

If the item doesn’t meet your expectations or is not as described, reach out to the seller to discuss a return or refund. Always try to understand the return policy before purchasing.

Can buying secondhand pet supplies affect my pet’s health?

As long as the items are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, and you avoid items that pose health risks, buying secondhand pet supplies should not negatively affect your pet’s health.

How can I ensure I’m getting a fair price for secondhand pet supplies?

Research the retail price of the item and compare it to the secondhand price. Factor in the condition of the item and any additional costs, such as shipping or refurbishment.

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