Pet Food

In many stores, pet parents in search of food for their fur babies are finding empty shelves

First it was toilet paper. Now it’s pet food.

People who adopted pandemic puppies and cats since coronavirus first hit the U.S. now often are finding it difficult to find food for their furry friends.

Part of the problem is there are now more pets to feed, said Rob Halpin, a spokesman for MSPCA-Angell, which adopted out so many of its own dogs and cats that it has had room for more than 2,800 pets from shelters in the South since January.

And although the shelter has not had problems finding food, many pet stores have found it difficult to keep up with the demand.

“It’s been like that pretty much since a few months after COVID began,” said Will Regan, assistant manager of Pet Cabaret in Roslindale.

Some of the store’s manufacturers have had a labor shortage, causing delays in shipping, Regan said.

One couldn’t even find enough cans for its food, so it began to make cans of its own, he said.

“What hasn’t happened before is we don’t have enough cans,” said Brett Sher of Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Company, an Illinois manufacturer. “Can suppliers are at capacity because people adopted pets during the pandemic, so can usage increased.”

Beacon Hill’s My Zone Blue’s suppliers — which sources food from various farms in the Midwest — also don’t have enough staff, said owner Pedro Mejai.

“In general, everything is taking longer to arrive, and everything is more expensive. So we’re going to have to raise prices on everything,” Mejai said. “We’re losing business because there are orders we can’t fill. So we have to tell our customers we’re out of stock of some things.”

In a statement on Wednesday, PetSmart said: “Throughout the pandemic, more people have added pets to their families, driving an increased demand for pet food. With this increase in demand, we have seen shortages from manufacturers of wet food that have affected our canned food supply in our stores and online. We are committed to doing all we can to help pet parents feed and care for their pets and are actively working with our manufacturing and shipping partners to ensure supply is increased to better meet the current demand.”

Mike Maida, owner of Pawsh Dog Boutique in the Back Bay, said the shortage has been less of a problem with American brands of pet food than with those from China. So he’s already ordered what he usually does later in the fall to make sure he has enough for the holidays.