Karen Moore was already fostering nine cats and four puppies at her Adelaide home when she received an email from another family needing to surrender their pet due to the rising cost of living.

“The cost is just rising all the time and the cost has just about doubled in price,” Ms Moore said. 

A Foodbank report released this month found almost one in every four of those surveyed admitted to skipping meals so their pets could eat.

The report also found 14 per cent had surrendered their pet in the past 12 months due to financial hardship, and eight per cent were resorting to charity organisations to help put food in the bowl.

“This is how heartbreaking things are,” Ms Moore said while reading the latest email from a family seeking help.

A terminally ill person surrendered the puppies.(ABC News: Briana Fiore)

“We are in financial hardship and unfortunately cannot support this dog anymore, we feel awful and are trying to give our dog away to a family but cannot find a home. She’s very anxious and kept indoors.”

Pet surrenders are something Ms Moore sees often while fostering animals for charity group Paws and Claws Adoptions.

“The mum cat with her litter was abandoned and left behind in a rental … people do leave their pets behind because they can’t afford to keep them or are no longer able to take them with them in rentals,” she said.

She said more and more Australians are having to choose between feeding their kids and pets.

“It’s terribly sad that you should have to make a choice, I mean pets are the best therapy for families but to have to make a decision between who you’re going to feed is so sad,” she said.

“Kids are crying … children get very distressed [when their pets are surrendered].”

Ms Moore said it was not just pet food prices that were climbing.

Karen Moore believes pet food costs have doubled in the past year.(ABC News: Briana Fiore)

“Pet food would have at least doubled, you’ve also got yearly vaccinations, flea and worm treatment, all of the ongoing costs to keep a dog healthy,” she said.

Pet food stolen

Ms Moore said she was not surprised to hear reports of people stealing pet food in the current economic climate.

Last week, South Australia Police charged three teenagers for allegedly stealing boxes of cat food.

Greg Pattison says those in need can reach out for pet food assistance.(ABC News: Briana Fiore)

But Foodbank’s chief executive officer (SA and NT) Greg Pattison said help was available.

“I think a lot of people don’t realise that Foodbank has pet food available, I think only 9 per cent of the clients we surveyed actually knew that we had pet food,” he said.

Loyalty programs and pet insurance

Some South Australians, like Deb Cleggett, are using loyalty programs and pet insurance to help keep the costs of owning their four-legged friends manageable.

Deb Cleggett uses a loyalty program and pet insurance.(ABC News: Briana Fiore)

“We buy food from one of the local pet stores because they’ve got a loyalty program and if you buy every month you get a discount on food,” she said.

“I tend to mix that with supermarket food to make the food more interesting, and also keep it a bit more budget-friendly,” Ms Cleggett said.

She said if something major happened to her dogs, her vet bills would also hopefully be covered by insurance.