Supermarkets have warned of a pet food shortage in 2021 - here’s why

UK supermarkets have warned of a shortage of pet food pouches due to a rise in the number of pets purchased during lockdown.

Sainsbury’s apologised on 9 March that it had run out of dog and cat food pouches, although tinned and dry food was still available.

So, what brands are affected, will shops run out and what else could you feed your pet if you can’t get their favourite food?

Why is there a pet food shortage?

Sainsbury’s claimed a rise in pets purchased throughout the coronavirus pandemic has led to the shortage.

In an email to customers, the company said: "Due to a national shortage of dog and cat food pouches, we're sorry if you're not able to find your usual product at Sainsbury's.

"We're working hard to resolve this. We think the issue will be ongoing through the year, but we hope to get them back onto shelves as quickly as possible."

In January, data revealed that 1,800 people called the Dog's Trust over in the last three months of 2020, all looking to give up dogs under the age of one.

The Kennel Club, the largest organisation in the UK devoted to dog health, welfare and training, claimed a quarter of new puppy owners had impulsively bought a pet during the pandemic, without research into their needs.

It appears that the sudden rise in people taking home puppies and kittens has had an impact on the availability of pet food, with suppliers unable to meet demand.

Which brands and types of pet food are affected?

Sainsbury’s stocks leading brands such as Sheba, Whiskas, Felix, Cesar and Pedigree. It is not known if specific brands are experiencing more shortages than others.

The supermarket does still have a variety of brands in stock, of both wet and dry food.

The shortage affects both dog and cat food, but it is not known whether it affects food supplies for other types of pets.

The supermarket has now warned "some products might become unavailable".

Competing supermarkets are also thought to be affected by the shortage, including Tesco.

It is not thought that the shortage has been caused by panic-buying, which caused a similar shortage of pet food in the first half of 2020.

ASDA and Morrisons have not made statements on whether their pet supplies are running low.

What can I feed my pet if I can’t get pet food?

According to popular cat food brand Purina, cats can also eat:

- Meat, though it must be thoroughly cooked and all bones and skin removed

- Fish, but it must also be cooked and deboned. Oily fish such as Tuna is particularly good for cats

- Eggs, deshelled

- Veggies such as broccoli, carrots and peas

- Fruit - though not popular with felines, the following are safe to feed your cat: bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, watermelon (seedless) and peeled apples (deseeded).

Cats should not eat:

- Dairy: including milk, cheese and yoghurts

- Chocolate: dark chocolate is particularly toxic

- Nuts and seeds: particularly macadamia nuts and walnuts

- Grapes and raisins

- Coffee, tea or anything else that contains caffeine

- Foods of the allium family: garlic, onions, chives, leeks, shallots and scallions

- Xylitol: a sweetener usually found in sweets, certain peanut butters and gum

- Coconut milk

- Alcohol

- Raw, uncooked bread dough

According to Pets At Home , dogs can eat:

- Fruits such as apples, bananas, blueberries and red tomatoes

- Cooked meat

- Cooked eggs (deshelled)

- Cooked fish

- Small quantities of cheese - Blue cheeses and any which contain garlic, onion, or herbs should be avoided.

What foods should dogs avoid:

- Grapes, raisins, avocados and sultanas

- Chocolate

- Macadamia nuts

- Onions, garlic, mushrooms and chives

- Caffeine (tea and coffee)

- Xylitol (a sugar substitute)

- Alcohol

- Nutmeg

- Lemons and limes

- Raw yeast dough

- Corn on the cob

- Milk and blue cheese