Can you buy dog food with food stamps? That is a good question and a valid one at that.
The cost of feeding your dog, cat, and other animals isn’t cheap, and the rising prices don’t help one bit. If you’re among the many food stamp recipients with a household that includes pets, then you might be thinking of using your EBT card to purchase dog food.
If this is you, worry no more. Besides giving you what you need to know about pet food and food stamps, Dog Food Guide is also here to give tips on what you can do when you're low on money but still need to feed your dogs (and cats) and buy pet food.
What You Need To Know About Food Stamps
Food stamps, which debuted on May 16, 1939, is a government program that aims to help low-income households make ends meet by providing them with food assistance. Back in the day, people used actual food stamps. It’s different nowadays.
Now known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), families can make SNAP payments using their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. This card acts like a debit card and lets eligible low-income people purchase food items from farmers' markets, convenience stores, grocery stores, gas stations, and more.
Can You Buy Dog Food With Food Stamps?
As mentioned, SNAP households can buy food items using their EBT card. Eligible food products include the following:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Fish, poultry, and meat
- Snack foods
- Non-alcoholic beverages
Besides that, they can also buy seeds and plants that can be used for growing food.
What about dog food? Can you purchase dog food using your SNAP benefits?
The short answer is NO. Unfortunately, you can’t use food stamps to buy pet food.
USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) lists dog food (and other pet foods) as a non-food item since it isn’t for human consumption. Other non-food goods that can’t be bought using SNAP include alcoholic beverages, live animals, supplements, and foods that are in demand at the point of sale.
What To Do When You Can’t Afford Pet Food
Indeed, most people consider their furry bundles of joy legit members of their household. But what can pet owners do when sources are limited and their animals or pets have nothing to eat?
Since you can’t use your snap benefits to purchase pet food due to government regulations, one would wish that such a thing as pet food stamps exists.
Well, it did, back in 2013. A non-profit organization called Pet Food Stamps was launched. Sadly, it had to close a year after.
Don’t worry, though. You don’t have to see your little dog go hungry. Even if your food stamp or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits can’t help, there are other options available.
Here are some of the things you can do or places you can check out when your family doesn’t have enough money to buy pet food.
Use Your TANF Benefits
If you’re a claimant of the federal program TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), and you’ve been issued an EBT card, then you’re in luck. You can use that to buy pet food.
Check Out These Pet-Oriented Resource Sites
These sites may not offer food stamps, but they’re able to help you find a local shelter and pet food banks or pantries that provide financial assistance and even free pet food in just a few clicks.
Feeding Pets of the Homeless. Recommended by The Humane Society, this website lets you find donation sites, shelters, and other locations that provide pet food and supplies. Just key in your city, and voila! You get a list of pet food pantries and the like. This list includes their address and phone numbers.
Make sure to contact the site first before going. This way, you are sure that they have what your pets need on hand.
Co-Fund my Pet. Like the first one, this website also provides a list of organizations per state that provide free pet food. As always, it’s best to call them before going to the location.
My Pet Child. Whether you’re in the UK or US, this site can help families struggling to purchase pet food and supplies and pay vet bills. My Pet Child is a resource site that helps fur parents find charities and non-profit organizations that provide temporary pet assistance.
Other Venues That May Provide Pet Food Assistance
Besides local animal shelters and pet food pantries, there are other venues you can look into whenever you are unable to buy food for your pets. Here are some (if not all) of them:
- Veterinary clinics
- Religious institutions or churches
- Animal-oriented groups and breed-specific organizations (like Doberman 911 and CorgiAid)
- Dog food manufacturers
- Pet stores
- Online forums (think Craigslist)
Give Your Pets Homemade Dog Food
Since you can’t use your food stamps to buy dog food, you have an option to make your own from scratch- think fruits, meat, and veggies- items you can buy using your EBT card.
Note, however, that you can’t just give your pet whatever food you have available. There are a lot of foods that we eat that are not recommended for doggy consumption. Besides that, your dog’s nutrient requirement is also different.
If you’re planning to give your dogs well-balanced, home-cooked meals, you can probably do this as a temporary fix. Doing it for a few months, though, is a different story since this tends to be time-consuming, labor-intensive, and at the same time costly.
Food For Thought
No animal lover and fur parent would want to see their once-healthy pets starve and turn into homeless animals. This is why even if many families struggle to keep up with their expenses, they choose to keep their pet dogs and try to feed them with whatever food they have available.
Unfortunately, your EBT card or food stamp isn’t the answer since dog food is not among the eligible items you can purchase (unless you’re a TANF recipient). Good thing, various organizations are willing to help a family or a household in need with a pet to feed.
So, just hang in there, and make use of all the available resources. When the going gets tough, remember that there’s still good in this world, and kind-hearted people still exist. You just need to find them.
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