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Home > Dogs > Can I Buy Dog Food Using Food Stamps (SNAP)? 2024 Guide

Can I Buy Dog Food Using Food Stamps (SNAP)? 2024 Guide

woman buying dog food

As the economy continues to struggle, many families are finding it difficult to make ends meet. One way that some people are able to save money is by shopping for groceries using food stamps. However, is it possible to buy dog food with food stamps?

Sadly, dog food cannot be purchased with food stamps. This is because pet food is considered a non-food item since it is not intended for human consumption. However, in some cases, it may be possible to purchase dog food with government assistance. Unfortunately, many restrictions apply and it is important to do your research first.

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What Is SNAP?

Food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), are benefits that give low-income families access to healthy food. SNAP can be used at most grocery stores to buy food items like fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy products. The program also allows recipients to buy some hot foods and food items that are prepared in a grocery store or restaurant.

Man on computer holding a card
Image by: rupixen, Pixabay

What Is an EBT Card?

An EBT card is a plastic card that looks similar to a credit card and is used to access government benefits, such as food stamps or cash assistance. The card is also referred to as a “benefits card.” The funds available on the card can be used to purchase items such as food, clothing, housing, and medical care.

When it comes to food, generally, your EBT card will only allow you to purchase food items that are not hot or that are meant to be eaten at the location where you are using it. The card has a magnetic strip on the back that stores the beneficiary’s account information. To use the card, the beneficiary swipes it through a machine at the grocery store.  In some cases, your EBT may allow you to withdraw cash from an ATM.


Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

You may be able to buy pet food if you receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits through your EBT card. To provide financial assistance and other services to families, the TANF program gives grant funds to states and territories. In order to qualify for TANF benefits, you must be a U.S. citizen, legal immigrant, or qualified immigrant, live in the state you applied in, be unemployed or underemployed, and have a low or very low income.

You must also meet one of the following requirements: have a child age 18 or younger, be pregnant, or 18 years of age or younger while being the head of your household. You can withdraw money from an ATM to buy items like food for your pet if your state issues you with TANF benefits through your EBT card.


Buying Pet Food Ingredients Using an EBT Card

If you don’t qualify for TANF, you can use your EBT card to buy meat, fruits, and vegetables so you can prepare your own dog food. If you do this, however, please make sure you research what foods your dog can eat and what the ratio and portion of food should be. Commercially prepared dog foods are specifically designed to meet your dog’s nutritional needs. If you research specific ways to supplement your dog’s food, you can provide those nutrients in homemade food. However, nutritionally balanced at-home pet foods can often be more costly and labor-intensive than commercial pet foods.

pouring dog food
Image Credit: cottonbro, Pexels

Other Ways to Get Dog Food

The TANF program may not be available to you, but you may be able to get assistance to purchase pet food and other necessities through state and national programs. A pet food pantry or another pet-related community service can be found on Feeding Pets of the Homeless‘ interactive resource map. Additional assistance can also be obtained from local shelters and rescue organizations. PetSmart Charity offers help with dog food and other supplies to seniors through Meals on Wheels.



In conclusion, it is possible to buy dog food using food stamps, but only if you qualify for TANF and pay with cash you have withdrawn using your EBT at the ATM. If you do not have TANF, you may still be able to purchase human-grade food with your EBT card and cook it for your dog, but this method will be more difficult and time-consuming.

There may be a number of local pet food banks that may be able to help you feed your dog, so, if you are in need of assistance feeding your pet, be sure to research and see what resources are available in your area.

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Featured Image Credit: Caftor, Shutterstock

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