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How to Find Free Pet Food Near You

These community resources can help your pet get the food they need.

by Sio Hornbuckle
January 4, 2023
A woman in a yellow sweater and jeans sitting and petting the head of her gray cat eating dry food from the floor in her kitchen
Mauro Grigollo / Stocksy

Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)

Animals are expensive. It’s not the most fun thing to talk about, but it’s a fact of pet parenthood. Even after the initial splurges (adoption fees, spay and neuter surgeries, vaccinations, microchipping, and basic necessities, such as crates and collars), there’s the ongoing need to keep our pets’ bellies full — and those bowls of chow can add up. 

No matter how ready we might feel when we first bring home a pup or kitty, unexpected financial difficulties can happen to any of us. With inflation tightening our budgets even more these days, many people understand feeling unstable or uncertain. Finding yourself unable to feed a pet is a nightmare, and no one should be forced to part with a well-loved family member when there are available community resources that can help. Below are some of the options for feeding a hungry pet on a limited budget.

Local animal shelters

Some shelters have programs that provide food to pets in need. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) keeps a list of shelters with assistance programs. Not every shelter that offers assistance is included on the list, though, so it’s worth reaching out to a shelter in your area to double-check even if they aren’t listed. 

Pets of the Homeless

Pets of the Homeless is another incredible resource for pets and pet parents in need. The website keeps a database of free food programs; you just type your city into the search bar, press enter, and browse the options closest to you. 

Local food banks

Many food banks and human-focused shelters also collect pet food donations and are able to assist with feeding your pets. Call a food bank near you and ask if they have dog or cat food available. Pets.findhelp.com is a great place to start: after inputting your zip-code and selecting “pet food pantries,” you can view a list of food banks in your area that offer pet assistance.

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels, an organization that provides free food for seniors, has partnered with PetSmart Charities to help create delivery programs for pet food, cat litter, and other pet necessities. Their services vary based on location and not all programs participate. Using their search function, you can search by zip code to find the phone numbers of programs near you and then call to check on their pet-care capabilities.

Veterinarians

Some vet offices keep free and low-cost pet food on hand for qualifying patients. Even if your vet is not able to give you free food, they may be able to recommend more resources; it’s their job to keep your pet safe and healthy, and they’re likely knowledgeable about many local pet programs.

Remember, if you are feeling stressed about feeding your pet, you don’t have to feel that way alone — or for long. There are plenty of people and organizations who get it and want to help you and your best pal get through your tough spot.

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Sio Hornbuckle

Sio Hornbuckle is a writer living in New York City with their cat, Toni Collette.