Pet Food Banks Can Help If You’re Struggling to Feed Your Pet · The Wildest

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Pet Food Banks Can Help If You’re Struggling to Feed Your Pet

Plus, how to donate to pet food banks to help other pet parents in need

by Jess Commons
16 May 2024
a man smiles at a fluffy white dog in a pet food store

If you’re struggling to feed your pet at the moment then trust us on this, you are not alone. According to the Office for National Statistics, in April 2023, a tin of dog food cost 79p. It now costs £1.05 –  a 32 percent increase. Last year, the average price for dog treats was £1.65. Today, the same treat has risen by 17 percent to an average of £1.93.

Add that to the fact that the cost of everything has gone up and it’s unsurprising that you might be struggling to buy food for your cat or dog right now. In fact, the RSPCA report that 30 percent of people are saying they’re worried about being able to care for their pets and 23 percent of pet parents are worried about being able to feed them.

For those struggling however, there is help available. Pet food banks are now sadly plentiful as demand has risen across the country. “We have launched pet food banks in a number of our rehoming centres and charity shops in a direct response to the large number of people contacting us to relinquish their dogs,” Dogs Trust tell us. “We received 50,000 handover requests in 2022 and a further 45,000 in 2023.”

They continue: “For most dog owners, being separated from their dog is no different from being separated from a family member, so we want to keep as many dogs and owners together as possible. With so many people seeing an increase in the cost of dog food, the launch of our food bank is one way we are trying to support dog owners through this difficult time. Thanks to the generosity of people across the UK, we have dog food available for anyone struggling with the cost of feeding their pet.”

Ahead, we look at how you can both access and donate to these vital organisations.

How do pet food banks work?

Because lots of different organisations have stepped up to help in this area, there’s a few different systems out there.

Some well-known animal charities like Dogs Trust and Blue Cross have set up their own food banks in their rehoming centres and charity shops. These food banks are free and don’t require a referral from a housing provider or agency.

Some charities, like the RSPCA Food Bank Project collect pet food donations and deliver them to food banks or special pet food banks (Blue Cross and Dogs Trust also do this as well). You can find a map of the places that they serve here. Please do research the individual food bank you choose before heading down to see if they have requirements for who uses the service.

Edinburgh Dog & Cat Home operate a similar system in Edinburgh, central and east Scotland. Pet Food Bank Service operate across south Wales. Again, please check out the individual organisation they’re providing the food through prior to heading down.

Other organisations like the Animal FoodBank will either deliver directly to you or will provide food ready for you to collect at a designated place provided you live in England, Scotland or Wales. Please read their criteria for use and then apply either via phone, email or their Facebook group (this can be done anonymously).

There’s a number of independent pet food banks and food bank projects operating across the country. From East Anglia to the south of England, Northumberland to Northern Ireland. Some require a referral, some let you just rock up. The most important thing that all of these organisations say is that their services are judgement-free.

Who can use a pet food bank?

All pet food banks are there to help people who are struggling to feed their pets at the moment due to financial reasons. The food banks that have been set up in Blue Cross and Dogs Trust rehoming centres are free to use and do not require a voucher or referral.

Other food banks may require a little leg work beforehand. For instance, to use Animal FoodBank you need to meet their list of requirements and then apply via email, phone or their Facebook group (anonymous option available). Other national organisations like Your Local Pantry (some of whom have pet food available thanks to the contributions of other charities) require you pay a couple of pounds membership fee to access their store cupboards. Others, like food banks operated by The Trussell Trust require a voucher or referral from housing associations, GPs or advice charities.

Long story short, it’s best to check in with the organisation you’re approaching first and see what you need (if anything) in order to use their services ahead of time. They’ll be happy to help you figure out what your best options are.

How to find a pet food bank near me

Frustratingly, because there isn’t one umbrella organisation, there’s no big long list so if you’re drawing a blank googling ‘pet food bank’ + ‘your town’ then here’s a few other sources to try.

How can I donate to a pet food bank?

Dogs Trust accept donations of pet food at their food banks. If you’re not in a position to give food, they also have posters that you can download, print out and post around the local area in order to help them access more pet parents in need. You can also donate money outright.

Pets at Home have Blue Cross food bank donation stations in every store. You can also take pet food into any participating Blue Cross charity shop, rehoming centre or animal hospital. They also accept monetary donations.

Animal FoodBank UK have a few donation points across the country they also have an Amazon Wishlist, a Vinted store (proceeds from which benefit the food bank), a raffle and they also accept cash donations via Paypal. They also are constantly in need of volunteers.

It’s worth reaching out to your local organisation and seeing what they’re in need of, too. Perhaps they’re inundated with dry dog food and are desperately seeking tins, perhaps they’ve just had a pet parent sign up who has a pet with the same special diet that your pet is on. Either way, shooting off an email or calling them on the phone is a great way to make sure that your donation is as helpful as possible.

girl with blonde hair with ginger cat on her lap

Jess Commons

Jess is a writer, editor and former global lifestyle director at Refinery29 with previous stints at ITV, Grazia, The Debrief (RIP) and more. She is a sucker for an older gentleman cat with A Past and spends most of her time being told what to do by her toddler and her three-legged rescue cat, Mac.

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