Barkbox vs. Pawalla


Subscription Box Saturday: Doggie Box Edition

If you read this blog often, you will know how much I… ehem… my pooches, love their BarkBox. Last month, I received a deal to give Pawalla, another pet subscription box company, a try. The special came via email from a deal site I subscribe to called Barking Deals. I thought it’d be fun to compare, although it might not be fair to do so after just one month.

First, let’s start with BarkBox.

This month’s BarkBox included:


Groom Mitt Bath Mitt (disposable doggie cleaning cloths), Etta Says! Duck Jerky Treats, SafeChew Biggie Bone Stuffable Dog Toy, Licks Liquid Vitamins, Fetch & Glow Glow-in-the-Dark Balls, Etta Says! Crunchy Duck Chew

This is the first box to arrive since the addition of Shamrock to our family. Since there was only one, I had to find a time to give Sophie the Duck Chew without Shamrock knowing. I tried to stuff the Biggie Bone with peanut butter to distract him, but for some reason, he wasn’t too keen on PB. Do you know a dog that doesn’t like PB?! Maybe he was just weirded out by the sticky texture. Maybe it’ll change with time. Of course the Duck Jerky treats were loved and a no-brainer. The Licks Liquid Vitamins were just a tasty food topper for the pooches. The Bath Mitts have not been used, but I have a feeling they will be sometime during this raining “spring” up-and-coming. The dogs were not excited about the Glow-in-the-Dark Balls at all, but I hoping they will be when we go up to the lake. They float!


I signed up with BarkBox when they were pretty new. I had a great deal if I paid for a year up front. I don’t believe they have a year subscription at the moment, but here are the costs currently advertised on their site:

  • $29/month for an ongoing, monthly shipment.
  • $23/month for a 3-month prepaid subscription.
  • $19/month for a 6-month prepaid subscription.
  • All programs include free shipping.
  • You can earn additional free months!

You can also get $5 off your first month by using this referral link!


To sign up, you choose one of the subscriptions above along with your dog size:

  • Small & Cute (0 – 20 lbs)
  • Just Right (20 – 50 lbs)
  • Big & Bold (50+ lbs)

This helps them determine the sizes of treats and toys to send. We have the Small & Cute box, although Benny weighs more than 20 lbs. I know that he’ll eat any treats and doesn’t play with toys anymore at his 17 years of age, so when we signed up for this box, I knew those would go to Sophie.

Here’s a look at past BarkBox treasures:

Singles with dogs, check this one out!

Elton Jumped Out of This Box

The Box I Wrapped Up for Christmas

The BarkBox compared to Paw Box

Smoothies, Antlers & Pumpkin, Oh My!

The First Box


Now for the Pawalla Box:

Barking Deals offered two different options and they allowed me to choose both! These were the great deals I received:

  • Barking Deal One-Month Standard Pawall Box – $16
  • Barking Deal Three-Month Pawalla Mini Box – $28
  • I had to pay an additional $2.99 shipping for each order when I enrolled on the Pawalla site.


Currently, regular prices for the Pawalla boxes are close to those of BarkBox:

  • $30 monthly for the Standard (Deluxe) Box or $28/month for a prepaid 6-months subscription.
  • $20 monthly for the Mini Box or $18/month for a prepaid 6-month subscription.
  • Shipping is apparently free.


To sign up, I needed to identify if I had a dog or a cat (Yes, there is a cat box, too!). Then I had to select:


  • Less than 25 lbs
  • More than 25 lbs


  • 0-12 months
  • 1-7 years
  • 7+ years

Since we added Shamrock to the family, I thought that this was our chance to get him his own box, especially since they had a 0-12 month category. Therefore, I went with the Three-Month Mini Box for him and chose the 7+years category for the One-Month Standard Box.

The Experience:

About 10 days after placing the order, I got an email from Pawalla with the subject title: “We hope you are enjoying your Pawalla Box!‏” I had not yet received the box, nor a tracking number, so I sent over a reply. They must have received several of those because it was followed up with a “Whoops!” email that they’d jumped the gun with this adorable photo:


Ten days after that, I received an email for each box with tracking numbers. They were coming via FedEx SmartPost, which I had never heard of before. I did a little research and found out that it’s a less expensive, slower method whereby Fedex delivers it your local post office and it’s up to the postal service to deliver from there. I guess that once it is delivered to the post office, that date is considered the delivery date.

I will tell you that it took approximately one month from the date of order to receive these shipments. And they didn’t even arrive on the same day. However, I am willing to cut Pawalla some slack here. First, when a company offers a Groupon or other deal, they often have a huge influx of customers/orders. In addition, they just offered such services at such an inexpensive cost. So here goes the increase of staff to fulfill these orders, but with less money to do it with. Totally get it.

The first box to arrive was the Standard Box, which is actually referred to as “Deluxe” on the Pawalla site.

Opened Box

The Deluxe Pawalla Box contains 7 to 9 items.


Canine Caviar Venison Canned Dog Food (2), PetLou Monkey Stick, Natural Balance Healthy Bones Treats, Locomotion Dog Treats, Pet Greens Semi-Most Tasty Lamb Treats, Grizzly Pollock Oil

Shamrock took to the Monkey Stick Squeaky Toy right away! He runs around the house with it at least once every day. Sophie, on the other hand, went right for the treats:


I read up on the venison canned dog food:


It’s interesting that they note that this food is meant to be a topper because they aren’t balanced for long-term use. I’ve been reading about this problem with natural-food dog diets in the book In a Dog’s Heart by Jennifer Arnold. I did put a dollop in each of the dogs’ dishes throughout the week, while keeping the remaining in seal-tight container in the fridge.

Another note in the book In a Dog’s Heart, is that dog food and treats that don’t have preservatives will likely go rancid quickly. The author had a whole kennel of sick dogs throwing up for days before they figured out that it was due to the natural food donated by a local company.

However, people think that since eating natural and preservative-free diets is healthy for us humans, that the same is the case for dogs. It’s just a fine line. So I just made sure that these were the first treats to be eaten, knowing that the shelf-life might not be as long as the other treats in the box and in our pantry:


I noticed later there is garlic in these treats. Isn’t garlic bad for dogs?

We haven’t used the Pollock Oil yet, which is very similar to the Licks Liquid Vitamins we received in the BarkBox, but they will be a nice food topper when the other stuff runs out. And the other treats, of course, will go to good use, too.


A day or two later, the Mini Box arrived.


It’s interesting that Pet Nutritionists pick out the items in the box. I question the unbalanced canned food and the preservative-free garlic treats here.

Shamrock was immediately interested

Shamrock was immediately interested!

But most of the contents were repeats of the Standard Box! Why ask what age the pets are if you are just going to send the same stuff? While there were a couple more items in the Deluxe box, I think it’s just the size of the box that makes it look deluxe, you know, with all of those compartments.


Three of the items were repeats from the Deluxe Box. The only different item was the Oatmeal Shampoo.


Shamrock immediately recognized the Monkey Stick and promptly pulled it from the box!

However, we really don’t need two of the same toy, so I traded him with the first one and plan to give the new one to another dog lover.


The verdict is still out on which box we like better. We still have 2 more months of the Mini Pawalla Box on its way!

Pawalla claims the following about their boxes:

  • 4-5 premium full-size products (7-9 for the deluxe box)
  • Treats, a toy and surprise item(s), no wet food {Wait. Didn’t I receive wet food in the Deluxe Box?}
  • All natural or organic
  • Hand-selected and reviewed by a Pet Nutritionist
  • Free shipping

BarkBox claims the following:

  • “Every month you will receive a box in the mail with four or more carefully selected products and presents for your dog – anything from toys, bones and all-natural treats to hygiene products and innovative new gadgets!”
  • “A portion of proceeds from each box will go to help doggies-in-need.” (In fact, 10% from every box goes to a rescue group!)

What is not mentioned here about BarkBox is the quality of the products. They are very careful to include only products that are safe for your pets – free from dyes, materials or ingredients that are harmful. Each product is labeled carefully, so I can attest to this.

One other thing I love about BarkBox is that I get a newsletter every month from Scout, their resident pooch who tests out all treats and toys. (Not a bad gig!) The newsletter often includes links to a whole slew of cute dog photos and GIFs. They make my day when I’m feeling blue! My husband said the other day that he had heard that watching fish swim about in a fish tank can help reduce stress and lower blood pressure. As Sophie and Shamrock were playing for a half-hour straight, he said he thought the same thing could be said about pooches playing. No wonder why cute doggie photos cheer me up!

What cheers you up or helps you wash away stress?


8 responses »

  1. It is the Pawalla Mini that doesn’t have wet food… that’s the main difference between the boxes. I got the mini because my dog doesnt’ eat canned food.

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