Can I Buy Dog Food With Ebt
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Can I Buy Dog Food With Ebt?

If you rely on food stamps but also have hungry pets at home, you may be wondering if EBT can be used to buy dog food.

Keeping your dog fed and healthy is important, but so is sticking to your SNAP budget. 

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Generally, you cannot purchase dog food with EBT. However, as an exception, if the pet food is specifically labeled as “intended for human consumption,” it may be eligible for purchase using SNAP benefits.

In this comprehensive 2000-word guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about purchasing dog food using your EBT benefits.

We’ll provide a quick answer upfront, then explore the details, including types of EBT, eligibility rules, retailer policies, and tips for affording pet food on a tight food stamp budget.

EBT Benefit Programs

EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) is a system used in the United States to distribute benefits to eligible individuals and families.

It is a convenient and efficient way to receive assistance for essential needs such as food, nutrition, and cash assistance.

There are several benefit programs available under EBT, including SNAP, WIC, and Cash Assistance.


SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is a federal assistance program that provides eligible low-income individuals and families with funds to purchase food. It is commonly known as the food stamp program.

SNAP benefits are distributed through EBT cards, which can be used to buy a wide variety of food items, including dog food.

However, it’s important to note that SNAP benefits can only be used for food intended for human consumption.

So, while you can buy food for your furry friend, make sure it’s suitable for human consumption as well.



WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) is another federal assistance program that focuses on providing nutritious food and nutrition education to pregnant women, new mothers, and young children.

WIC benefits are also distributed through EBT cards, but the program specifically targets food items that promote the health and well-being of women and children.

Unfortunately, WIC benefits cannot be used to purchase dog food or any other pet-related items.

Cash Assistance

Cash Assistance, also known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), is a program that provides financial assistance to families with dependent children. The program aims to help families meet their basic needs and achieve self-sufficiency.

Cash assistance benefits are typically distributed through EBT cards, allowing recipients to withdraw cash or use it for purchases that meet their specific needs.

While there are no restrictions on using cash assistance to buy pet food, it’s important to prioritize essential needs before considering non-essential items.

It’s important to remember that the specific rules and guidelines for EBT benefit programs may vary by state.

To get detailed information about eligible items and restrictions, it’s best to consult the official websites or contact the relevant agencies in your state.

The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service website ( is a great resource for understanding the guidelines and eligible items for SNAP benefits.

Buying Dog Food with SNAP

SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, provides eligible low-income individuals and families with funds to purchase food items.

While the program primarily focuses on human food, there are some circumstances where it is possible to use SNAP benefits to buy dog food.

It’s important to understand the guidelines and restrictions surrounding the purchase of pet products with EBT cards.

dog food

Eligible items

Under SNAP guidelines, pet food is generally considered ineligible for purchase with EBT cards.

However, there are exceptions to this rule.

If the pet food is specifically labeled as “intended for human consumption,” it may be eligible for purchase using SNAP benefits.

These types of products are typically specialized diets that cater to individuals with specific dietary needs, which happen to be suitable for both humans and pets.

It’s important to note that these products are not typically found in regular pet food aisles, but rather in specialized sections of grocery stores.

Additionally, if you receive SNAP benefits and have a service animal, you may be able to use your EBT card to purchase food specifically for that animal.

Service animals are defined as animals that are trained to perform tasks for individuals with disabilities.

However, it’s crucial to check and follow the guidelines set forth by your state’s SNAP program, as they may have specific regulations regarding service animal expenses.

Ineligible pet products

While it may be possible to purchase certain pet food items using SNAP benefits, there are several categories of pet products that are generally considered ineligible.

These include toys, treats, grooming supplies, and other non-food items.

Therefore, it’s important to use the benefits accordingly and avoid purchasing non-essential pet items with EBT cards.

Payment splitting

One important aspect to keep in mind is that most retailers do not allow payment splitting when using SNAP benefits.

This means that if you’re purchasing both human food and eligible pet food items, you may need to separate the transactions to ensure that only eligible items are paid for with your EBT card.

It’s crucial to check with the retailer beforehand and follow their policies to ensure compliance with SNAP regulations.

For more information on the specific guidelines and regulations regarding the purchase of pet food with SNAP benefits, it’s recommended to visit the official website of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, which oversees the SNAP program.

They provide detailed information and resources to help individuals better understand how to properly use their benefits.

Retailer Policies on Dog Food

When it comes to purchasing dog food with EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer), the policies of retailers can vary.

While EBT is primarily used for purchasing food items for human consumption, there are certain circumstances where dog food may be eligible for purchase.

Let’s take a look at the policies of some popular retailers:


In some states, Walmart, being one of the largest retail chains in the United States, allows the purchase of dog food with EBT.

However, it is important to note that the type of dog food eligible for purchase may be limited to certain brands or specific products.

It’s always a good idea to check with your local Walmart store or their website to get the most up-to-date information on their EBT policies.

walmart website


Target, another popular retail chain, does not currently allow the purchase of dog food with EBT.

Their policy strictly limits EBT usage to items that are intended for human consumption.

So, unfortunately, you won’t be able to use your EBT card to buy dog food at Target.

Grocery Stores

Grocery stores, which are often the primary destination for EBT purchases, may have varying policies on dog food eligibility.

Some grocery stores may allow the purchase of dog food with EBT, while others may not.

It is best to check with your local grocery store to see if they allow EBT usage for dog food.

Pet Stores

Pet stores, such as PetSmart or Petco, typically do not accept EBT as a form of payment for any products, including dog food.

These stores generally focus on pet-related items and do not fall under the category of retailers that accept EBT. Therefore, it is unlikely that you will be able to buy dog food with EBT at pet stores.

It’s important to remember that EBT policies can vary by location, so it’s always a good idea to check with the specific retailer before making any assumptions.

Additionally, if you are in need of assistance with purchasing dog food, there may be other resources available in your community that can help.

Local food banks or animal shelters often provide assistance to those in need of pet food. It’s worth exploring these options if you find yourself in need.

Affording Dog Food on a Budget

For many pet owners, providing their furry friends with nutritious food can be a financial challenge.

However, if you are on a tight budget and are wondering if you can use your Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card to purchase dog food, the answer is unfortunately no.

EBT cards are exclusively for purchasing eligible food items for human consumption.

However, there are still several strategies you can employ to afford dog food while on a budget.

Compare prices

When it comes to buying dog food on a budget, comparing prices is a crucial step. Different stores and brands may offer varying prices for the same type of dog food.

Take the time to research and compare prices from different retailers, both online and in-store.

Look out for sales, discounts, and coupons to maximize your savings. By being a savvy shopper, you can find affordable dog food options that meet your pet’s nutritional needs without breaking the bank.

Buy in bulk

Purchasing dog food in bulk can be a cost-effective option. Many pet stores and online retailers offer discounts when you buy larger quantities.

Buying in bulk not only saves you money in the long run but also reduces the frequency of your shopping trips.

Just be sure to check the expiration dates and proper storage guidelines to ensure the food stays fresh and maintains its nutritional value.

Use cash benefits

If you receive cash benefits as part of your assistance program, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), you can allocate some of those funds toward purchasing dog food.

While EBT cards cannot be used for pet food, cash benefits provide more flexibility in how you can spend the money.

Remember to prioritize your own needs before allocating funds for your furry companion, as taking care of yourself is equally important.

Explore food banks

In times of financial difficulty, food banks can be a valuable resource. While their main focus is providing food for humans, some food banks also offer pet food assistance programs.

Reach out to local food banks or animal shelters to inquire about any available resources for pet owners.

These programs can help alleviate the financial burden of buying dog food and ensure that your pet receives the nutrition they need.

Remember, providing your dog with proper nutrition is essential for its overall health and well-being.

While EBT cards cannot be used to purchase dog food, by employing the strategies mentioned above, you can find affordable options to meet your pet’s dietary needs without compromising your budget.


In most cases, dog food itself cannot be purchased directly with SNAP EBT. However, you may be able to use cash benefits or split payments to cover eligible human food plus ineligible pet items.

With smart shopping and creative budgeting, you can keep your dog fed and happy while maximizing your monthly food stamp benefits.

Use this guide to understand EBT policies for purchasing pet products.

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