We all love our pets and want nothing but the best for them. Sometimes, you can find yourself in a tough financial spot where you may have trouble affording dog food.
If you’ve found yourself in this situation, then you’re certainly not alone.
Almost 30% of pet owners can’t afford their pets amid inflation.
75% Of pet owners say that inflation is making pet ownership more expensive and 26% are struggling to afford their pets. 87% of pet owners say they’ve experienced increased pricing on key pet-related expenses, especially pet food (74%) and veterinary services (33%).
Fortunately, finding free or cheap vet care and pet food is possible. There are many ways to get free dog food. This can be so helpful if you’re struggling financially.
What will I learn?
How to Get Free Pet Food
If you do need assistance with paying for your pet’s food, then this article can help you out. Below, I’ve included 15 ways to get free dog food.
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1. Ask at local pet shelters
Local pet shelters may be able to assist you with getting free food for your dog. Of course, some shelters are stretched pretty thin themselves and may struggle to keep the animals under their care fed, but some may receive enough funding to provide food to families in need too. Some even establish pet food banks.
You should contact local shelters to inquire about free dog food.
- You can find pet shelters near you on the ASPCA website.
2. Contact pet food manufacturers
Some pet food manufacturers offer free dog food samples. You just need to contact them and make a request. Consider pet food brands and then get in touch with them. You can usually find a contact page with a form, phone number, or email address you can use to request free samples, on the company’s official website.
This isn’t the best option if you’re looking to get free dog food consistently, and constantly changing your dog’s food isn’t always the best option as it can cause digestive issues and intestinal issues, but it’s good if you need some free food every now and then.
3. The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army helps people out with everything from food to furniture. Sometimes it runs food pantries in local communities nationwide. These may be able to offer dog food too.
- You should contact your local Salvation Army chapter for more information, which you can do here.
4. Search for free dog food on Craigslist
Sometimes people purchase too much dog food, or they buy pet food that their dog just doesn’t like so they end up with surplus pet food. They’ll often decide to simply give these items away. One place where people often give away free stuff is on CL.
There is a bit of risk involved in this because you don’t know the person who’s making the donation. If you can find someone giving away unopened pet food though, this can be a good option when you’re struggling to afford pet food.
To find free stuff on Craigslist, go to the “Free” section. This can be found under the “For Sale” section of your city’s Craigslist.
Then, you’ll be taken to the “Free” section where you’ll find people giving away lots of different items.
You can filter the results by searching for the item you want. So, do a search for the term “dog food,” and then you’ll be able to see if anyone is giving away free pet food near you.
- Visit Craigslist here.
5. Local churches
A lot of churches run food pantries, soup kitchens, food banks, food drives, sponsor food giveaways, or have food outreach programs in the communities they serve.
Sometimes they offer pet food too. So, your local church may be able to help you out with getting free dog food.
- Use Google to find nearby churches, and then contact them for assistance.
6. Use Pet Help Finder to find free pet food near you
If you want free pet food, then use Pet Help Finder. This is a great tool for low-income families and those struggling financially.
On the Pet Help Finder website, you can select “Food Pantry and Supplies” from the dropdown menu, and select your city, state/province, and Zip code, and then search for free pet food near you.
7. Contact Feeding Pets of the Homeless
If you’re experiencing homelessness and need help affording your dog, then you can get help from Feeding Pets of the Homeless.
This is a national nonprofit organization that provides pet food and emergency veterinary care to pets that belong to homeless people. Feeding Pets of the Homeless may be able to assist you in getting food for your pet.
- Get help from Feeding Pets of the Homeless here.
8. Get in touch with local veterinary clinics
Some vets, particularly those in rural or impoverished areas, participate in charitable programs that offer free or low-cost dog food to pet owners in need. Some will even offer reduced fees for services like spaying/neutering.
- Use Google to search for veterinary clinics near you and then get in touch to see if they can assist you with paying for pet food.
9. Look for free dog food on Facebook Marketplace
Just like on Craigslist, you may be able to find people giving away free pet food on Facebook Marketplace. The site has a section for free stuff where you’ll find people giving away a bunch of free stuff.
You can search the free stuff section. Simply enter the term “free dog food” into the search bar.
- Visit Facebook Marketplace here.
10. Find food pantries on PantryNet.org
PantryNet.org is a website that lists local food pantries around the country. It has a network of partners including pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters.
You can find a location near you using the map on the website. You can click on places to view addresses, days, and hours. You may be able to find food pantries on there that also offer dog food.
- Visit PantryNet.org here.
11. Contact breed specific organizations and groups
If your dog is a particular breed, then you may be able to get assistance with pet food from breed-specific organizations. You can find AKC clubs or even breed groups online and on social media. On Facebook groups for example, you may find locals who will be happy to assist fellow owners, even if that means shipping food!
- Use Google to search for breed groups for your dog’s breed.
12. Contact United Way 211
211 is a service from United Way that helps people in need with a variety of things, including food. If you need help paying for dog food, contact 211, and it may be able to assist you.
Your local 211 agency can offer up to date information about local assistance that could be available to you.
All you need to do is call 211 from your cell phone or landline and you can speak with a live, trained service professional. You can also contact them through text or chat online.
- You can also find other contact information on the website here.
13. Search for free dog food on OfferUp
You may be able to find people giving away free dog food on OfferUp. It’s an online marketplace where people can buy and sell stuff locally, but it also includes a section for free stuff.
The only issue with OfferUp is that all of the free items on there are grouped together, which can make it a little difficult to find specific items like dog food.
An easy way to find the item you’re looking for is to go to the site and then enter the term “dog food” into the search bar and hit search. This will give you a list of results, including dog food that you have to pay for. To ensure you get listings for free dog food, if it’s available, filter the results by “Price: Low to High.”
If anyone is giving away free dog food on there, you’ll be able to view those listings from your search. And if there isn’t any free dog food on there, you’ll still be able to view the cheapest ones and get a great deal on pet food.
- Visit OfferUp here.
14. Find food pantries on Food Pantries
FoodPantries.org is a website that gathers food pantries from across the country.
On the site, you can search for food pantries, soup kitchens, food shelves and other food help in your area. The website is easy to use, and it provides pantry hours, details, and more.
You may be able to find a local food pantry on there that provides assistance with pet food too.
- Visit Food Pantries here.
15. Pick up a side hustle online or near you
If you are struggling financially, it can be a good idea to pick up a side hustle to bring in some extra money. You can use this cash to cover the cost of dog food.
Here are a few online site hustle ideas:
- Freelance writing: Find work on these freelancing sites.
- Data entry: Find work on these sites that offer Data Entry jobs.
- Virtual assistant work: Read our post on how to become a virtual assistant.
Here are a few local side gigs you can try:
- Work as a rideshare driver for companies like Uber and Lyft.
- Do some pet-sitting work via platforms like Rover.
- Deliver food with apps like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and GrubHub.
- Deliver packages with Amazon Flex.
- Deliver groceries with apps like Instacart and Shipt.
- Run errands with TaskRabbit.
- Be a dog walker on sites like Wag! and Tailster.
Getting Free Dog Food: Last Words!
Pets are family and you obviously want the best for them. But financial hardship is fact of life for a lot of people. So if you are a low income family or temporarily are having a hard time affording your furry friend’s food, there is nothing wrong with using of these recourses to get free food for your dog or cat.
Juts make sure that when your financial situation improves, pay it forward by donating pet food to these shelters, food pantries and organizations that help you get free dog food!