Our pet food banks
No pet should have to go hungry. And no one should have to choose between feeding themselves or feeding their pets. Hard times can happen to anyone, and with pets in the family there are more bowls to fill when money is tight.
If you’re struggling to afford food for your dog, cat, or small pet, we’re here for you and will be happy to welcome you to our Blue Cross pet food banks, without judgement.
We can help you with pet food and other items including bedding and litter.
We welcome donations of food or money for our pet food banks. Each and every one will help keep pets with their loving families.
As well as running our own pet food banks, we have partnered with other organisations around the UK to provide pet food at human food banks across the country.
We’ve partnered with Pets at Home to place pet food donation stations in every store. All donations collected by your local Pets at Home store go to food banks in your local community.
Who can use a Blue Cross pet food bank?
Anyone struggling to feed their pets can visit our pet food banks and collect the food they need. We understand that coming to a food bank can be difficult. We won’t ask you for a voucher or proof of need, and our team will welcome you without judgement.
As well as running our own Blue Cross pet food banks, we provide pet food to our partners to give out through their own food banks. Food banks run by our partners each have their own ways of working and to use them you may need a referral from a frontline professional or Citizens Advice, or to show them a voucher.
How to get pet food
We run Blue Cross pet food banks at some of our animal hospitals and rehoming centres. We also collect pet food and give these donations to local food bank partners to give out.
Blue Cross pet food banks currently support dogs, cats and small pets chinchillas, degus, ferrets, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rabbits and rats. Because we rely on donations, we can’t guarantee we’ll have stock for all pets at all times. Please call us before you visit to check what we have in stock.
Our partners operate differently from the pet food banks we run at our own Blue Cross rehoming centres and animal hospitals. You may need to call ahead or provide a referral to get support. Visit their websites to find the latest information on how to get help.
Frequently asked questions
Is there a charge for using Blue Cross pet food banks?
No. Our pet food banks support anyone struggling to afford their pet’s food. We will never ask you for money to use our pet food bank.
I’m not able to travel to you, can you deliver to me?
Some of our pet food banks have volunteer drivers who can deliver to pet owners who are unable to travel. Please contact your nearest Blue Cross pet food bank to ask if this is available locally to you.
Can I request my pet’s usual brand of food?
If we have your pet’s usual brand in stock you we will be able to give it to you. We are reliant on donations so are unable to ensure we always have particular brands.
My pet needs a special diet, can you help me?
Depending on stock, we are able to cater for some special diets for eg for senior pets or puppies and kittens. We are unable to help with prescription diets as these need to be prescribed by your vet. If you are having trouble affording prescription diets, speak to your vet to ask about any lower cost alternatives, or payment plans they may offer that could help spread the cost.
Is supermarket own brand and other cheap pet food ok to give my pet?
Yes, if it says “complete” on the label. By law, pet food companies have to ensure any food they label as “complete” gives a nutritionally complete balanced diet for the species it is made for. “Complementary” food will only provide part of the nutrients your pet needs to be healthy.
Will changing the type or brand of food make my pet ill?
New food can cause digestive problems so, if possible, introduce it over a few days. Mix a quarter of the new food with most of the old food and gradually switch over a couple of days until you have changed over fully. Cats may take longer to adjust from moist to dry food so you can try soaking dry food to encourage them.
What if I’m running low on dog food?
We know times are hard. If you only have a little or no dog food left there are things you can do to make sure your pet doesn’t go hungry.
This advice is for emergency situations only as doing this in the long term can lead to serious health problems, particularly so for puppies. If you can, spread complete dog food out over the whole period so your dog has some balanced food each day. Bulk it out with rice, pasta, water-soaked oats or cooked potatoes. If you have it, you can add cooked egg, plain cooked meat, and/or boiled veg such as carrots or broccoli.
Avoid salty, spicy or fatty food and never feed bones.
What if I’m running low on cat food?
We understand these aren’t decisions you’d wish to make. If you only have a little bit of cat food left to last a few days, spread the cat food out over the whole period so that your cat has some balanced food each day.
Cats need to eat meat, so make sure they have some animal protein such as cooked meat or fish. You can mix in cooked veg or rice to bulk it out. Don’t give them salty, spicy or fatty food, or bones.
Cats may be more likely to eat new food if you warm it up a bit.
My pet’s new food has upset their stomach. What should I do?
Stomach upsets are often caused when new food is introduced too quickly. If you introduced it slowly over a few days, give their digestive system a chance to rest for 24 hours by feeding small amounts of cooked chicken, scrambled egg, plain rice or pasta. After the 24 hours, try the new food again in very small amounts.
My pet won’t eat their new food
If your pet is otherwise healthy, give them 48 hours to eat the new food. If you can, try mixing it with their previous food. You could try adding some flavour like a tiny amount of marmite or tinned pilchards. Warming the food up a little will bring out the flavour too. Don’t give your pet any treats during the period you’re introducing a new food.
Is it OK to feed dog food to my cat?
Not long term. A cat could eat dog food as a one-off and be OK, but if a cat is fed dog food over any length of time they will suffer from serious deficiencies in essential nutrients that felines need. This may cause them long term health issues such as blindness and heart disease.
Is it OK to feed cat food to my dog?
A dog can eat cat food and be OK, however, cat food is higher in protein than dog food and can cause dogs digestive problems, so it is not advisable for any length of time.
Is it OK to feed my pet on table scraps?
It’s not ideal for puppies or kittens as they need a balanced diet to help them grow, however, an adult dog or cat will be OK for a couple of days as long as you avoid the following foods: salty, spicy or fatty food; bones, raisins; grapes, chocolate, avocados, nuts, and foods sweetened with xylitol.
What about feeding treats?
Treats are not a complete diet and can be high in fat, so feed sparingly. If you need cheap treats for training your pet, use tiny amounts of flavoursome human food, such as small cubes of marmite on toast or tiny amounts of cheese (pea sized or smaller).
Can you help with vet fees?
Blue Cross provides free and reduced cost veterinary treatment for pet owners who receive means-tested benefits and who live in our catchment area. Find out if your pet is eligible for Blue Cross vet help.
I have had to find a new home for my pet because I could no longer afford them and I’m devastated
Being forced to part with a much-loved pet is extremely difficult and very upsetting. We’re here to listen if you’d like someone to talk to about how you’re feeling. Our Pet Bereavement Support Service is completely free and all our trained listeners have experienced pet loss themselves, so they really do understand. Call or email us, confidentially.
I need to rehome my pet as I can’t afford them anymore
Blue Cross rehoming services may be able to help find a new home for your pet if you can no longer afford to care for them. Our teams understand how difficult this decision is to make, and will support you through the process without judgement.
What other help is available for pet owners who are struggling to afford their pets’ care?
Alongside Blue Cross, there are several other pet charities that may be able to help owners on low income
- Cats Protection helps with the costs of getting your kitten or cat neutered
- Dogs Trust helps owners experiencing homelessness with veterinary costs
- PDSA runs animal hospitals providing low cost veterinary care
- RSPCA offers low cost vet care to pet owners living in their catchment area
If you need help with vet bills, speak to your vet about setting up a payment plan that could help to spread the cost over a longer period.