Pet owners grappling with pet food shortage

Many pet owners say they've been scrambling to find some pet foods throughout the pandemic, especially for cats and dogs that need special diets. 

Some pets are finicky eaters. Others have health problems and need special food. But a pet food shortage throughout the pandemic has been making some pet foods hard to find. 

Dog trainer Manuel Golden hears from his clients at TyCal K-9.

"They're like wow, what do I do now? I can't find my dog food anywhere," said Golden.

Golden says he and pet owners have not been able to buy some pet foods for months.

"It's a little concerning because your pet is like your child. You want to do what's best for them," said Golden.


Veterinary technician and Practic Manager Landis Perret at Sienna Plantation Animal Hospital says there's a shortage of Royal Canin, which makes dog and cat foods for different breeds and health problems. 

"Primarily we're seeing urinary diets, renal, and kidney diets, and very specific GI diets. And the GI ones are really concerning because those pets have very rare conditions," said Perret. 

Pet owners have reported shortages off-and-on with brands, including Purina, FreshPet, Fancy Feast, Friskies, or 9-Lives. Manufacturers say it's due to manufacturing shutdowns and a surge in pet adoptions during the pandemic.

"Oh yes, we call it the puppy boom. Or the adoption boom, because we have had, and it's wonderful, we love it, but we've had so many new pets coming into families," said Perret.

Petco sent us a statement reading:

"With 3.3 million incremental new pets and counting welcomed into U.S. households since the start of the pandemic (source: Packaged Facts with adjustments from company internal estimates), the pet category has experienced increased consumer demand. As a result, it’s possible pet parents may not find a specific item or flavor of food on the shelf on a given day. However, Petco has strong relationships with brands like Royal Canin and we carry one of the broadest nationwide assortments of high-quality nutrition for dogs and cats, with plenty of options readily available both online and in our Petco Pet Care Centers. We’re confident we can continue offering a wide variety of pet food and treats to meet pet parent needs."


Royal Canin states on it's website:

"ROYAL CANIN® sincerely apologizes for the current product availability issues you may be experiencing. We take full responsibility for this, and deeply regret the impact that these issues may have on you and your pets that we are so privileged to feed.

We have experienced incredible growth in demand for our products at a time when a broader global crisis is putting additional strain on all of us. Despite our best efforts to supply enough of our diets to meet the increased demand, we recognize that we are not meeting your expectations, nor ours.

We want to assure you that we understand your frustrations, and our entire team is committed to getting your cats and dogs the tailored nutrition they deserve. In the meantime, we will be prioritizing the diets we believe are most critical to the health and wellbeing of pets as a first step. Thank you for your patience as we work hard to deliver precise and effective nutrition to meet your pet’s unique needs."

Perret recommends asking your veterinarian for comparable, alternative pet foods. They've referred Royal Canin customers to Hill's Science Diet and Purina. 

"The other diets should work fine. Their veterinarians should be able to find an alterntiave for them," said Perret.


Purina provides a chart of alternative pet foods for specific health concerns.

"We're looking at some different options, possibly feeding and creating a diet ourselves. That's becoming very popular," said Golden.

Some pet owners have luck ordering pet food online from sites like Chewy, PetCo and PetSmart, or signing up for alerts when the foods are back in stock.