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Can You Buy Dog Food with EBT?

Can You Buy Dog Food with EBT?

Can you buy dog food with EBT? If you have a dog and you’re new to EBT benefits, it’s natural to wonder if you can feed your pet with your benefits card. Navigating the list of what you can and cannot buy with your EBT card can be difficult. Don’t worry: Low Income Relief is here to help!

Can you buy dog food with EBT?

Whether or not you can buy dog food with EBT depends on the source of your EBT benefits. There are several different programs that send benefits through EBT cards, including:

  • Aged Blind Disabled (ABD) benefits
  • Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) benefits
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits

The strictest of these programs is the SNAP program, which is used to distribute food benefits. These food benefits are intended to help low income households feed themselves and their families.

Can you buy dog food with food stamps?

Unfortunately, no, you cannot buy dog food with food stamps. This is because pet food is considered to be a non-food item since it is not meant for human consumption.

Generally, your EBT card will only let you buy food items that are not hot or meant to be eaten at the location you are at. While there can be exceptions to the strict list of what you can purchase through SNAP, the list below generally covers what you can buy with EBT:

  • Meat
  • Bread
  • Dairy
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Cereal
  • Seeds and plants for growing food

Can you buy dog food with EBT cash benefits?

There are a lot fewer rules about what you can purchase with EBT cash. These benefits are intended to help you cover your necessary living expenses but the purchases are not limited to food.

You can use EBT cash to purchase:

There are still restrictions on what you can do with EBT cash. For example, you cannot use your EBT cash benefits to purchase, receive or participate in any of the following:

  • Adult entertainment
  • Alcohol
  • Body art (tattoos, piercings, etc)
  • Cigarettes
  • Gambling
  • Tobacco

You can’t even use your EBT card inside a bail bond agency, gambling establishment, liquor store, nightclub, tavern, or anywhere that a person under the age of 18 isn’t allowed to go.

However, none of these restrictions say anything about purchasing pet food. The only mention of pet food I was able to find was clearly tied to purchasing pet food with food benefits, so it appears that you can buy dog food with EBT cash benefits.

Can I make my own pet food by buying ingredients with my EBT card?

If you are in need of a short-term way to feed your pets, you can be tempted to buy meat, fruits, and vegetables with your EBT card in order to make your own pet food at home. If you do this, however, you could potentially make your pet sick.

You would also be breaking the rules of the food stamps program, since you are only allowed to purchase food for human consumption with those benefits.

Pet foods are specifically designed to meet your pet’s nutritional needs, but you may not be able to meet those by feeding an at-home food without researching specific ways to supplement your pet’s food. Nutritionally balanced at-home pet food can often be more expensive and time-consuming than manufactured pet food.

A woman in an orange sweater cradles and pets a happy-looking German shepherd puppy. She wonders: can you buy dog food with food stamps?
By Unsplash user Veronika Jorjobert.

Where can I find free or cheap pet food?

Luckily, there are a number of options you can explore in order to find free or cheap food for your furry friend.

  • Contact your local animal shelters to see if they provide free or reduced cost pet foods.
  • Find charitable groups for pets
  • Reach out to your local vet clinics
  • Message a breed-specific organization (for example, if you have a German Shepherd, find a group specifically for them)
  • Ask a local religious institution
  • Search for free pet food in your area
  • Consult with your local food pantry to see if they provide pet food
  • Check to see if your local Meals on Wheels affiliated group can deliver pet food to your door

I need more help!

Need more info? We’ve got you! Here’s some other resources!

With her years of researching and writing experience, Chloe uses her experience and her passion for helping others to help you get the financial aid you deserve.

Aisha Martin

Tuesday 5th of July 2022

If you need help with pet food you can also try to email or call pet food companies. I have done this with Purina. I told them that I really liked their products (which I do) and was specific about which product my pets liked best and why. Then I asked them kindly if they could help us out with any coupons as we were having financial problems. Sometimes they would send free coupons for cat food (wet and dry) and sometimes just high-value coupons! It's always worth a try. Try this out for ANY brand and for ANY need.