If you’ve been scouring empty shelves for your pet’s favorite food and wet food cans, you’re not alone.
The pandemic supply chain has taken another victim: pet food. While it’s unlikely that your precious puppy or cat will starve, picky pets may have to compromise their diet, as supply chain disruptions have affected the price and availability of some pet foods.
Pet food makers have seen an increase in cost and a decrease in the availability of their ingredients for animal and vegetable oils and fats, according to the Pet Food Institute, an industry group for dog and cat food makers.
Prices of corn and soybeans in the United States – key ingredients in many pet foods – reached their highest levels in eight years this spring, as these ingredients are used to drive renewable energies based on biofuels. Reduced truck driver availability and disruption to power generation and distribution also affected pet food makers.
Add that to the growing number of people adopting epidemic pets, and owners have a real problem with pet food supply and demand.
Lacey Damon, a veterinary assistant at Brewer’s Veterinary Clinic, said she’s noticed a shortage of some pet food brands, especially Royal Canin.
“We’ve had issues with late prescriptions,” Damon said.
Sandy Chuke, director of Bangor PetSmart, said aluminum shortages in the United States have also reduced the availability of canned cat food.
“We have certain brands that we’ve had issues with,” Choquet said. “Fancy Feast is one brand that is still in short supply. There are certain flavors that we just can’t get enough of.”
Choquet said stores like hers have seen supply chain issues related to the pandemic emerge and have been able to prepare by stocking customers’ favorite products.
The problem, then, is the cost. Don Hanson, owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop in Bangor, said that while he’s been able to get most of his regular stock, “everything goes up in price.”
Expect to pay a little more for your pet’s food. If you can’t find your favorite brands, Hanson said, don’t be afraid to switch.
“One of the biggest myths,” he said, “is that you should feed your pet the same thing for their entire life.”
Pet food swaps should be done with caution, especially if your pet has digestive problems. You should plan ahead if you notice the store is low on regular pet food, Damon said. When choosing a new pet food, choose one that contains most of the same ingredients your pet is used to eating.
“Match those but do it proactively before you completely run out of food,” Damon said. “If you know early on that you can’t have the same food, it is best to make a gradual change. Mix new 25 percent with 75 percent old, basically until you run out of old food.”
It is not recommended to jump straight into homemade pet food if your favorite brands are out of stock or overpriced.
“Trying to cook your own food that’s balanced with those vitamins and minerals takes a lot of effort,” Damon said. “We recommend people to use a formula recommended for dogs and cats.”
Pet vitamins are also deficient.
“If someone tries to supplement those, they may have problems,” Damon said.