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7 Places to Get Free Dog Food for Low-Income Families

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Dog Food By Ben Team 7 min read May 24, 2021 81 Comments

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Financial troubles are difficult for every member of your family – including your dog. In fact, if you really get painted into a financial corner, you may have trouble affording your pet’s food.

Fortunately, many non-profit groups and other organizations have programs designed to help owners in exactly these types of circumstances. Most of these resources are administered on a local level, so the specifics vary from one location to the next. You may need to do a little digging to discover what’s available in your area.

But, we’ll direct you towards some of the best places to start below. We’ll also explain a few other ways for low-income families to obtain other pet supplies and services for little or no money.

Common Sources for Free or Low-Cost Dog Food

A variety of organizations and businesses are willing to help low-income families feed their pets. Some of the most notable include:

1. Pet Shelters

Pet shelters often struggle to keep the animals under their care fed, but some of the most successful ones receive enough funding to provide food to needy families too. Some even establish pet-food banks!

Use this ASPCA resource to find shelters in your area.

2. Dog- or Pet-Oriented Non-Profit Organizations

Non-profit organizations come in a variety of flavors – they aren’t all shelters. Many non-profits have programs designed to help feed dogs that live with low-income families. For example, the Humane Society of the United States (related to, but different from, your local Humane Society Shelter) maintains a list of resources available to low-income dog and cat owners.

3. Veterinary Clinics

Some vets – particularly those in rural or impoverished areas – participate in charitable programs that provide free or low-cost dog food to families in need. Many will also provide reduced fees for spaying/neutering, vaccinations, and other services. Once again, the HSUS is here to help you find low-cost veterinary services.

4. Breed-Specific Organizations

Many breed advocacy groups and clubs provide assistance to low-income families. You’ll have to search for organizations that focus on your dog’s breed, but this AKC Parent Club List will make it easy to get started.

Also make sure to find breed advocacy groups online (even Facebook groups), as you may find locals who would gladly assist a fellow owner, even if that means shipping over food from another part of the country.

5. Pet Stores

Your local pet store may be willing to cut you a deal on your dog food bill if you explain your circumstances. Others may even be willing to let you barter services in exchange for dog food.

6. Religious Institutions

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

You’re most likely to obtain assistance from your own religious institution, but many are willing to help anyone in need, regardless of religious affiliation.

7. Manufacturers

Some manufacturers offer free dog food samples – you simply need to write or call them and make a request. You won’t be able to feed your dog over the long-term with free samples, and you don’t want to be constantly changing your dog’s food (this can cause intestinal issues), but a few free trial-size bags of dog food in your cupboard may help out in a pinch.

Other Forms of Assistance for Low-Income Pet Owners

Food isn’t the only thing your dog needs. He’ll also need a bed, collar, leash, some toys, and other items. Fortunately, there are a few avenues by which you can often find low-cost or free versions of these supplies.

Your vet may be willing to provide services at reduced fees. Most vets go into the field of animal care because they love animals. This means that they’ll often be willing to work with you to ensure you can afford the care your pet needs. They may be willing to reduce the fees associated with various services, do small things (like nail trimming and tooth brushing) for free, or allow you to pay for services over time.

Local pet stores – especially those of the mom-and-pop variety – may be willing to give discounts to people having trouble affording their pet’s needs. They may also be able to give you a heads up regarding upcoming sales, clearance events, or similar promotions.

Social media networks often give you the chance to speak with other dog owners and find unique opportunities. You can search for mentions of free dog supplies or send out a message or request to your friends and acquaintances. This is often a great way to acquire second-hand beds, crates, and similar items.

As with foods, some manufacturers will provide free samples – often in exchange for a review on Amazon, Yelp, or some other website. Don’t get too excited; manufacturers aren’t going to line up to send you a free crate or dog bed, but some may provide low-cost items (such as ID tags, collars, supplements, or grooming products) in exchange for your honest feedback about the product.

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Moral Support: Gathering Your Guts

It can be difficult to contact aid organizations or shelters to ask for help. Many people are embarrassed to ask for assistance and fear being judged. This leads many people to procrastinate – often at their pet’s expense. But don’t worry: It’s rarely as bad as you think it will be.

First of all, relatively few people decide to work in a non-profit or low-income assistance organization to dole out judgment; they go into such work because they love animals and want to help. They are typically warm, compassionate, and empathetic, and they’ll be happy to help in any way they can.

Additionally, the employees and staff at most non-profits and aid organizations have been trained to assist people in tough situations. They’ve assisted other owners in similar circumstances before and are taught techniques to help people without making them feel bad about their circumstances.

It’s usually best to rip off the Band-Aid quickly. So, go ahead and pick up the phone or visit one of these organizations in person. Chances are they’ll quickly put you at ease and, before you know it, they’ll be helping you obtain food for your dog.

Some people may feel better sending an email rather than speaking directly with the staff. That’s usually perfectly acceptable, and it may even be an easier method of communication for the staff. Don’t feel like you need to explain your life story in the first email – you simply need to make the connection and start the ball rolling.

For example, try something like this:

Hello. My name is ____________ and my family is currently experiencing some financial difficulties. We are doing everything we can to rectify the situation, but we are having trouble keeping our beloved family pet well-fed.

We were hoping that your organization may provide some type of assistance to families in situations like ours, or that you may be able to let us know about other local organizations that do.

We love our pet dearly and regret that we need to ask for help. We’d thoroughly appreciate any assistance you can provide.

Thank you for your time,

_____________________

(Feel free to copy and paste the above passage.)

Add your contact information to the bottom and attach a photo of your family with the pet. Make sure that you are patient while awaiting a response. Most shelters and non-profits are woefully understaffed, so it can take them several days (perhaps even a week or more) to get back to you. This further illustrates the importance in reaching out for help early, before your situation becomes too dire.

As you can see, help is available in a variety of places. Start by investigating the links, recommendations, and resources listed above, but if those prove fruitless, you’ll need to expand your search.

Are you aware of any specific aid organizations or non-profit centers that provide assistance to low-income families? We’d love you to share any relevant information in the comments below. The info you provide may very well help a family going through some tough times to keep their beloved pet healthy, happy, and well-fed.

Please note: We are not ourselves able to provide assistance with food, as we do not sell dog food! We will not respond to requests for dog food as we are unable to send any. Please use the resources mentioned in the article.

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Written by

Ben Team

Ben is the senior content editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his spoiled-rotten Rottweiler named J.B. Chances are, she’s currently giving him the eyes and begging to go to the park.

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81 Comments

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Thomas Shelton

We have 3 German Shephard pups

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Jonathan Mann

I am a Navy Service Connected PTSD ,Anxiety Disorder ,Sleep disorder too. I am in the process of getting a Maltese for a therapy Dog ,But I have no income at all. Is there an organization out there for Us military families in need of pet food. Thank you very much.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Jonathan.
We’re not aware of a specific organization that helps military families, but maybe one of our readers knows of one.

Incidentally, I removed your phone number to protect your privacy.
Best of luck!

Reply
Christina M Russell

HI MY NAME IS CHRISTINA AND I’M GOING THROUGH A TUFF TIME RIGHT NOW SO I’M ASKING FOR SOME HELP FOR MY THERAPY DOG TO GET HIM SOME FOOD CAN YOU PLEASE HELP ME…I’M FROM PITTSBURGH, PA 15206

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Jesus M.Quinones

Hey guys me and my Lady just rescued a 7 weeks old blue brindle puppy female pitbull. We are doing our very best to keep her, also keep her healthy as well but we are struggling, going through real hard times, I’m a chronic congestion heart failure pcient, and y lady suffer from psquizoafective disorder., We are from miami Dade county if you guys please have som info about some pet assistance we’ll really appreciate your help thanks .

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Karen Chambers

Right now, we are doing okay with providing good care for our 3 cats and dog Bella. I have donated to our local shelter and to ASPCA. We adopted Bella last March and she is an Angel! Our 3 cats are rescues to. The only struggle we have is vet bills. I took Bella to the vet for a wellness check after adopting her and she was pretty healthy except for dental issues. She had to have 1 extraction and another bonded. They cleaned her teeth and did a thorough examination. That visit wiped out my Care Credit. If you have any recommendations of lower cost vet care in NC , I would be grateful for any info you might have. Thank you.

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Ben Team

Hey, Karen.
Unfortunately, we don’t have any specific advice for low-cost vet care in North Carolina. But, we’d recommend contacting one of your local shelters and inquiring — they often have arrangements with local vets.
You may also want to consider a pet health insurance plan.
Best of luck!

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Gloria Munoz

Need help with spaying a rescued kitten. My friend is handicapped and needs a pit bull spayed. We are also short on other supplies. Any help is appreciated. Thank you

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Amanda Bennefield

Hello I’m looking for food assistance for an 8 week old lab mix pup I took in and work has slowed down. Anything helps until work pics back up. Thank you

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Sharmaine R Singletary

I’m sending this because my wife and I are in a great bind. We came here from the north we are struggling alot we dearly in need for help here .we pay out more the 60 percent of income can u please help use

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Holly Lewis

I’m a mother of 2 girls in need of help with food for our fur baby’s

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Kathleen Moore

In need help to get dog food and a dog house please.

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Robert Copp

I have recently fallen on hard times trying to fix this problem quickly but I’m having a hard time feeding my 2 dogs boomer and rocco I will be starting a new job on Monday March 1st please help if able I live in Panama City Florida

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Amanda Reed

I have 4 dogs and I’m on SSI and I pay for everything when my husband don’t help and 2 the dogs I saved

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Rosh krip

I want help in wet puppy food, thats all i can request and one or two t-shirt for him size 16

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Earline Stevens

I have a 3 year old German Shepherd mixed with Calli named Lola Bell she is my best friend and it’s very hard for me to be able to buy dog food I am permanently disabled and on benifts can someone please contact me and help me with dog food please

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Virginia lewis

Im singly person that 1mixed doghe16 years old then I give Pitt that is 2years old both dogo had since 2 days old but I need little help food for them my Pitt get sick if food has any green or carrot in it so have to buy two different kinds of food .but bill for house really high

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Crystal Parks

I have a Terrier poodle he’s 4 months old and I’m in need of clothes bed and food if someone to help me it would be a blessing thank you and God bless you

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Francisca vargas

I am disabled an dont have enough food for my dogs

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Paula Mitchell

Thanks. It would be alot more convenient if you had maybe names of places that help me

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Genevieve Powell

I need some dog food!!
My deaf rescue is huge!!
Hard to keep him feed with my other dog on social security. Thanks

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