Can You Buy Dog Food With Food Stamps? [Get The Facts]

Food stamps, which are often called SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program), can make a world of difference for low-income American families. The program is designed to give households cash benefits to buy food groceries. 

However, this raises questions. What about non-food groceries? What about household supplies? Do food stamps only cover the basic foods – fruit, veg, and meat? What about pet food? Let’s find out. 

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Table Of Contents:

Can You Buy Dog Food With Food Stamps? 

Unfortunately, you can’t buy dog food with food stamps. Buying food and supplies for your pets is hardly a frivolous expense, but food stamps are solely intended to buy food – human food. 

EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer, commonly used for SNAP/food stamps) doesn’t cover pet expenses. You can’t use it to buy: 

  • Pet food of any kind
  • Pet supplies, cages, or crates
  • Animals (even cheaper pets, like hamsters and fish)
  • Aquarium supplies 
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Of course, pets are part of our family, too. Unfortunately, you may need to rely on your own money to care for your beloved pets. 

What Can You Buy With EBT? 

The principle behind EBT is to provide a low-income household with the money to buy food groceries and ingredients and take those groceries to make nutritious meals. 

Here’s what you can buy with EBT: 

  • Fruit and vegetables (you can also buy seeds to grow plants for food at home)
  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish and seafood (not pre-cooked seafood)
  • Beans, nuts, and legumes
  • Dairy products (cheese, milk, yogurt, etc)
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • Baking ingredients (flour, sugar, etc)
  • Snack foods (ice cream, chips, candy, etc)

Essentially, most foods that you can buy in a supermarket are covered by your EBT. It’s up to you what you choose to buy. 

You can’t overspend on your EBT account. Once your balance runs out, you won’t be able to use your card for purchases until your benefits renew. Also, any leftover balance at the end of the month will roll onto the next month, so you won’t lose any unspent money. 

What Can’t You Buy With EBT?

EBT doesn’t cover non-food groceries, even essential ones. It’s important not to try and buy unapproved items, as this can lead to your EBT card getting declined, or even getting your benefits suspended. At the very least, you’ll need to pay for the unapproved items later on. 

Here’s what you can’t buy with EBT: 

  • Household supplies (like paper goods, cleaning products, etc)
  • Hygiene and grooming items (sanitary pads, soap, shampoo, etc)
  • Electronics
  • Clothes, furniture, or home decor 
  • Vitamins, supplements, and medicines
  • Pet food and supplies 
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Hot food, prepared food (like rotisserie chickens), or fast food
  • Restaurant food 
See Also  How To Check Your EBT Balance In California [Get The Facts]

The Bottom Line

If you’re not sure whether an item is covered by your EBT money, call the customer service number on the back of your EBT card. 

Fortunately, most food sold in stores will be perfectly fine to buy with your EBT card.

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