Spring is in the air, the birds are chirping, flowers are blooming and Brach’s is preparing for Passover. As families run around shopping for food and cleaning, there is one family member that must not be forgotten, your household pets. Right before the holiday begins, there is a rush to finish all the chametz food, including all those dog bones and pet treats.
So what do you feed your pets over Passover? Well, if they appear overweight you can always put them on a diet for the next eight days. However, you might expect a call from the A.S.P.C.A.
If you are not personally eating the pet food containing the chametz, nor are you deriving pleasure directly from the food, then why must one buy different pet foods? To start, we must first state what chametz is. According to chabbad.org, chametz is “any food product made from wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, or their derivatives, which has leavened (risen). Our sages have determined that flour from any of these five grains that comes in contact with water or moisture will leaven, unless fully baked within eighteen minutes.” Therefore, any pet food containing wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt can be considered chametz. When it involves pet food, kitniyot is not an issue. According to Rabbi Hershel Billet of Young Israel of Woodmere, “Pet food can have kitniyot.”
As humans, we are not receiving pleasure from these foods directly. So must we still buy different foods for the animals? The answer is a simple yes. Rabbi Chaim Tabasky, from Yeshiva.org.il writes, “Not only is it forbidden to eat or own chametz on Pesach; it is also forbidden to derive benefit from chametz, and feeding one’s animals with chametz is gaining benefit.”
In America there are many different types of pet foods, and obtaining ones that are permissible for Passover has become increasingly easy. I have heard of some families who simply feed their dogs “people food,” such as chicken and other meats for the eight days. However, this is not recommended as many dog’s stomachs are not accustomed to such foods and they can easily become sick. For the standard pets, such as cats and dogs, most of the well-known brands carry foods that can be used over Passover.