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Opened Dog Food: Can You Donate It?

By Aviram K.
January 6, 2022
4 min read
Opened Dog Food: Can You Donate It?
✏️ This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.
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As a pet owner, there are many ways in which we may end up with dog food that has been opened but won’t be used.

Maybe you’re trying to find dog food that agrees with Fido’s stomach? Maybe you were pet sitting for someone, and they never came to pick the food back up? Or maybe you were fostering a pup, and the new home is switching to different food?

Whatever the reason, you may be wondering if you can donate your opened dog food.

For the safety of the animals, most animal shelters will not accept open dog food. However, you may donate it to animal rescue organizations, pet stores, or friends and family.

Your food won’t go to waste - in this article, I’ll be sharing a few ideas on where you can donate your open dog food.

Ready? Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents
Do Shelters Take Dog Food That Has Been Opened?
What to Do with Opened Dog Food

Do Shelters Take Dog Food That Has Been Opened?


Animal shelters are one of the biggest animal operations in the United States - and with the influx of animals becoming homeless, shelters are always in need of supply donations. Items such as toys and blankets are great to offer, but pet food tends to be the number one item on the needs list.

That being said, sadly most shelters cannot accept open dog food.

As much as they may need it, with an operation that big it’s hard to vet the safety of the food. There simply aren’t enough personnel to handle animals getting sick because opened food hadn’t been properly stored or kept.

Most state-run animal shelters will not accept food that isn’t sealed to mitigate the risk of animals becoming ill.

However, _some _animal shelters that have foster care programs may offer the opened dog food bag to their foster homes, so it is still worth a phone call to ask.

What to Do with Opened Dog Food

Although most state-run animal shelters do not take dog food that has been opened, that doesn’t mean you have to toss your opened dog food in the trash! There are still some ways you can put that food to use and help animals in need.

Keep in mind that if you are looking at offering your opened dog food to others, make sure that the dog food remains fresh.

Store and seal as you would anything that you plan on giving your dog and make sure the food is safely away from any sort of contaminants.

You can use food storage containers such as the Vittles Vault to keep the food safe!

Where shelters may not take open dog food, animal rescue organizations are a different story. Animal rescues tend to be nonprofit no-kill shelters that pull animals out of shelters and give them a permanent place to stay until they find their forever homes.

Like shelters, being a nonprofit means that animal rescue organizations are always looking for help and donations. Opened, but unused, dog food is a great item that can help feed all of those pups waiting to find their new family.

Before driving all that way to a rescue organization, be sure to call and ask if they will accept your dog food.

Offer to a Wildlife Refuge Center

Wildlife refuge centers are agencies established to help rehabilitate injured wildlife and then release them back into the ecosystem.

Believe it or not, many wild animals are actually fed with dog food while being healed up from their wounds! Creatures such as raccoons and foxes thrive on dog kibble.

As such, many wildlife refuge centers and organizations will accept open dog food to feed their temporary residents.

Wild animals have much stronger stomachs than our domestic dogs do, so food being opened isn’t a big concern.

Give it to a Food Pantry


Food pantries are intended for humans - but some also accept open dog food to help pet owners in need as well.

Sometimes our fellow people fall on hard times (especially with last year’s pandemic closures), and having some help while they get on their feet means a lot.

There are even designated pet food pantries popping up all over the country, such as Nevada’s SPCA Pet Pantry. All of these will take open dog food that is in good condition.

Return Back to the Pet Store

Some pet stores will actually accept opened bags back to the store for a credit to you!

Pet suppliers understand that we do tend to end up with a lot of wasted dog food in the pursuit of figuring out what our furry friends like to eat.

As such, some store franchises and small businesses will actually take the pet food back - they will either offer it to their employees to take home (as can be attested by friends who work at family-owned pet stores) or donate to rescue organizations or food pantries in need.

Giving the food back to the pet store alleviates the need to research and call various nonprofit agencies to find who will take it and put it to good use.

Offer to Friends or Family

When in doubt, offer to friends and family!

You never know who close to you might want that food. It’s certainly worth a shot, or in the least, your loved ones can ask those that they know if the food is wanted or needed anywhere.

Plus, your friends and family are comfortable and trusting you and aren’t as likely to worry that the food has been opened.

Post On Social Media

Social media is a powerful networking tool - and could be very useful in this situation!

If you are unable to find a rescue organization, food pantry, or pet store to bring the food back to, why not post on Facebook or Instagram?

You might have someone local in the area who feeds their pup the same food and would like the opened back!

Facebook’s implementation of Groups means that most communities have a local group for the neighborhood. That’s a great place to start, as well as Facebook Marketplace.

Dog Food
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