Questions and Answers

Can you Buy Dog Food with Food Stamps?

Food stamps benefits are intended to be used to purchase eligible food items to be consumed at home. One of the questions we often get is this: Can you Buy Dog Food with Food Stamps? In this post, we will answer the question, including whether you can purchase pet food in general with SNAP EBT.

If you are struggling to feed your dog, we have also provided helpful tips below on where to get free or cheap dog food.

Can you Buy Dog Food with Food Stamps?

The answer is NO. You are not allowed to use food stamps benefits to purchase dog food or pet food in general. Here’s why.

According to rules established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), households can use SNAP benefits to buy “foods for the household to eat,”.

This includes foods such as breads and cereals; fruits and vegetables; meats, fish, and poultry; and dairy products.

Additionally, USDA rules are specific about what you cannot use SNAP benefits to buy.

Here’s what you cannot buy with SNAP benefits, according to the USDA website:

  • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco
  • Vitamins, medicines, and supplements.
  • Live animals (except shellfish, fish removed from water, and animals slaughtered prior to pick-up from the store).
  • Foods that are hot at the point of sale
  • Any nonfood items such as:
    – Pet foods
    – Cleaning supplies, paper products, and other household supplies.
    – Hygiene items, cosmetics

As you can see under the “nonfood” section, pet food is prohibited from being purchased with food stamps.

It is true that dog food is considered food. However, EBT benefits are intended to be used to purchase food for human consumption, which is why dog food is ineligible.

Where can I get Free Dog Food?

If you are struggling to feed your dog, there is help.

Many non-profit groups and other organizations have programs to help dog owners who have hit hard times and cannot feed their pets.

Through these organizations, you may be able to get free dog food or you may be able to purchase dog food at a significantly reduced cost.

Here’s a list of organizations that can help you feed your dog.

Pet Stores

Your local pet store may be willing to cut you a deal on your dog food bill if you explain your circumstances.

Veterinary Clinics

Veterinary clinics, particularly those in rural or impoverished areas – participate in charitable programs that provide free or low-cost dog food to families in need.

The Humane Society

The Humane Society maintains a list of national and local organizations that offer free pet food.

Religious Institutions

Churches, synagogues, mosques, and other religious institutions often provide assistance to low-income families, and this may include donating dog food.

Online Message Boards (Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace)

Whether they simply purchased too much food or purchased a bag of dog food that their dog didn’t like, people occasionally find themselves with surplus food and pet supplies on hand.

These are usually offered for free on public message boards like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.

Meals on Wheels

Seniors in need of help with pet food, cat litter, and other supplies can turn to the PetSmart Charity through Meals on Wheels.

Use Google Search

Another way to locate pet food banks in your area is to use search engines like Google to research “pet food banks and meals on wheels programs in (your city).”

This will pull up a list of organizations in your area that provide free or low-cost pet food.

To find state-specific pet food pantries, click here.

Summary

We hope this post on the question – “Can you Buy Dog Food with Food Stamps?” was helpful.

Questions?

If you have further questions about Food Stamps or EBT Card, please let us know in the comments section below.

Also, be sure to check out our other articles about California SNAP and EBT, including:

Kwame Kuadey

Kwame Kuadey writes about personal finance and the social safety net. His career started in banking but he caught the entrepreneurial bug and has spent the last decade building successful businesses, including an Inc. 500 Company. Kwame believes everyone has the power to improve their quality of life by seeking knowledge and taking action. In 2012, Kwame founded Empower Media to help low-income households improve their financial situation. His expertise is in topics relevant to low-income households, including government benefits and assistance, banking products, access to credit, plus tools & resources to help reduce income volatility and build wealth. Kwame has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc. Magazine, Washington Post, ABC, and NPR.

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