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3/31/2016

What to Feed Your Pet on Passover/Pesach 2016

Our sweet little beagle, Abby
DISCLAIMER AND CREDIT:  I am not a halachic authority (nor do I play one on tv). All the lists and guidelines mentioned here came from two excellent halachic sources. I tried to copy verbartim whenever I could, but please doublecheck with these guides before purchasing any Passover-approved pet food:
These lists are good only for Passover 2016 ONLY.  I urge you to consult with your local halachic authority and not to rely on Rabbi Internet for any halachic questions you might have regarding pet food on Pesach. 

On Passover/Pesach, according to halacha, a Jewish person may not even "derive benefit" from chametz, which means that while your pets do not need to keep kosher, you may not feed them food containing chametz on Pesach.  You many, however feed them food containing kitniyos, such as rice or corn.

Per the Star-K, you don't need to buy a new food bowl for your pet on Pesach, but you must wash out your pet's bowl very thoroughly and remove all traces of old food.

The lists below were taken from the two kashrus sources cited above, the CRC and the Star-K.  Even when purchasing a brand name mentioned on this list, make sure to check all labels. There should be no chometz listed. A product listing both meat and dairy ingredients may also not be used any time during the year or on Pesach.

(There are very few dog treats that are kosher for Passover, so here's what we do.  (This is for gebrokts-eating homes only): after a meal with chicken soup and matzoh, when we clear the table, we dump all the leftover soup (make sure there are no bones!) into a plastic disposable bowl and then break up all the leftover matzoh into the leftover soup.  The matzoh absorbs the soup. Then we give it in little bits to our dogs as treats.  They love it.  Awesome frugal treat.)

Here are a few guidelines mentioned by the CRC and Star-K:
  1. In addition to checking for the five chametz grains – wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt – also look for brewer’s yeast (a common flavoring agent, which is chametz), malt (a barley-based sweetener), pasta, xanthan gum (a thickener which may be fermented from chametz), and other generic terms which may refer to a chametz ingredient (e.g. flour, gluten, middlings, starch, et al).
  2. Many varieties of animal feed contain a multitude of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, some of which may well be chametz, and there is no realistic way for a consumer to determine which of them are problematic.  However, the good news is that vitamins comprise such a small percentage of the animal food that they are batel. Therefore, it is generally accepted that if the animal food was created before Pesach, it may be used on Pesach.
  3. Some common ingredients used in pet food which do not pose a Pesach concern are:
    • Animal, poultry and fish products.
    • Vegetables, such as alfalfa, asparagus, beets, and carrots.
    • Assorted kitnios foods, such as buckwheat, corn products, lentils, millet, peas, rice, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and soy products.
    • Other items, such as barley grass, BHA, BHT, carrageenan, cellulose, colors, eggs, gums (other than xanthan gum), kelp, lactose, linseed, milk products, molasses, oils, psyllium, and whey.
  4. Feed available at zoos is often chametz and should not be purchased or fed to the animals on Pesach. 
  5. It is advisable to mix regular and Pesach food together one to two weeks before Pesach before switching completely to Pesach food. The ratio of regular and Pesach food should be changed slowly to get the animal used to the new diet. Check with your veterinarian before changing diet.
  6. By no means do these pointers cover all of the ingredients used in pet food, and you might want to be in touch with a kashrus professional if you are unsure about any of the other ingredients in a given pet food.
  7. Mixes sold in stores often contain chometz. It is advisable to mix together regular and Pesach food between one to two weeks prior to Pesach before switching completely to Pesach food. The ratio of regular and Pesach food should be changed slowly to get the animal used to the new diet. Check with your veterinarian before changing diet.
  8. Make sure you check with your local Va'ad regarding which stores are okay for buying pet food immediately after Pesach (you want to avoid chametz she'avar alav haPesach, just as with people-food)

CATS:
DOGS:
FISH: 
  • Fish food, including pyramid feeders, and vacation blocks often have chametz. Goldfish and tropical fish can be given tubular worms, frozen brine shrimp, and freeze-dried worms (if they do not contain fillers). 
  • The Star-K has listed Tetra Tropical Slow Release Gel Feeders (Tetra Weekend 5 days, and Tetra Vacation 14 days) as being acceptable. 
BIRDS (PARROTS, PARAKEETS, COCKATIELS, MACAWS):
  • Millet, sorghum, wild bird food (check for chametz ingredients) as main diet.
  • Peanuts, sunflower seeds, and safflower seeds can be given.
  • Larger birds, such as parrots, can eat pure alfalfa pellets (make sure it is pure alfalfa since it is common to add grains) or dry dog food (see above for list).
  • Smaller birds can also eat pure alfalfa pellets – crush before feeding.
  • Can supplement with sliced grapes, cottage cheese, rice cakes (birds like these), small pieces of lean meat, matza, berries, eggs, canned baby fruits. All large food should be shredded before serving.
  • These items should be given sparingly.
  • For minerals, can have oyster shells (calcium) or mineral block such as Kaytee Tropical Fruit Mineral Block Treat.
  • The greater the variety, the better.
HAMSTERS, GUINEA PIGS, GERBILS & RABBITS:
  • Best to feed pure alfalfa pellets. Make sure it is pure alfalfa since it is common to add grains. Dried alfalfa may also be given.
  • Can supplement with mixture of cut-up fruits and vegetables - carrots, grapes, apples, melon, kale, parsley, oranges, celery, dry corn, sunflower seeds, or cabbage. Can also give some matza. If not accustomed to these items, give sparingly.
  • Guinea pigs will especially benefit from kale, parsley, and oranges.
  • Hamsters will especially benefit from apples.
  • Guinea pigs need vitamin C added to diet.
LIZARDS:
  • Be aware that mealworms, which as living creatures are not chametz, are commonly sold in a bed of wheat flakes or oatmeal, which is chametz and, therefore, may not be owned or used on Passover.
  • Live crickets are permissible. 
  • Whole insects (live or dead) with no additives or other ingredients are permissible.
For more Pesach deals and money-saving tips, check out your Pesach-Central at  PESACH.DAILYCHEAPSKATE.COM or PASSOVER.DAILYCHEAPSKATE.COM.

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