By Mary Klaus
Technically, your pets may not be Jewish. But you are.
As Jews enter the Passover season, many believe that their pets, like themselves, should not have food with chametz (leavened bread) such as wheat, barley, oats, rye, spelt, pasta, and brewer’s yeast. After all, observant Jews keep chametz out of their homes during Passover.
Many Jews turn to lists of Passover-friendly pet foods free of chametz. Rabbi Elisha Friedman of Kesher Israel approves of this choice.
“Pets must be given kosher for Passover food,” he said. “There are some pet foods with kosher for Passover certification.”
STAR-K, a kosher certification service which has provided kosher supervision for over 50 years, publishes an annual list of Passover-friendly pet foods free of wheat and rice.
Mandy Cheskis said she is familiar with Passover-approved dog food for Genny, her 7-year-old yellow Labrador retriever.
Mark, Aviva and Ariel Woodland, have five cats: Bella, Fluffy, Brownie, Pixie and Shaggy.
“The cat food we buy year round is grain free,” Ariel Woodland said, “so we continue using it during Passover.”
Aviva Woodland said that their cats are quite familiar with Jewish rituals.
“When I get the white tablecloth out every Shabbat, they wander over toward the table and sit down to wait,” she said. “When I serve challah, I give each of them a little piece, which they love. During Passover, they are very disappointed not to get it!”
Jews have other options when it comes to feeding their pets during Passover. These include feeding the pets “human food” such as kosher meats, selling their pet food to a nonobservant friend for Passover and buying it back a week or so later, then using Passover approved pet food; or boarding their pets for a week.
Star K said that Jews should not leave their pets with non-Jews during Pesach if they know that their pets will be fed chametz. Star K suggests that people leaving their pets at a kennel provide the kennel with a non-chametz food.
Want to do something special for your dogs this Passover? How about making them a seder plate of their own?
A doggy seder could include a water bowl and a plate with:
- A bitter apple in place of maror (dogs don’t like bitter herbs) to symbolize the bitterness of the Egyptian oppression of the Israelites.
- Chopped up sweet apples for the charoset to represent the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves to build in Egypt.
- Greenies for dogs, flavored dental treats as the karpas, the green herb representing the tears of the Hebrew slaves.
- A lamb shank to represent the Passover sacrifice.
- A hard-boiled egg to represent mourning the destruction of the temple.