What to Donate to Animal Shelters: 5 Essential Items

By Laurie Fanelli in Helping Hands

It is expensive to run an animal shelter. Medical bills, food, and housing add up to a hefty sum and that's not even considering the day-to-day operations—e.g., keeping the lights on—associated with these life-saving organizations. Volunteering to help animals with your family is a great way to spend time with loved ones while helping shelter pets, but it can be hard to fit another appointment on an already packed household schedule.

Donations are a quick, easy, and effective way to give back to man's best friend. If you've ever wondered what to donate to animal shelters, the answer may be found right in your own home.

Here are a few examples of donation items that are always needed at animal shelters to help keep their furry residents healthy, happy, and warm as they wait for a forever family. If you're looking to do something "pawsitive" for animals this season, consider giving items from these categories to your local rescue organization.

1. Food

When considering what to donate to animal shelters, food is at the top of the list. Dry food and canned meals are necessary to maintain a healthy diet among shelter pets. Many facilities feed their rescue residents specific brands of food, so it's a good idea to call ahead to make sure that your donation will go to good use.

Keep an eye out for coupons and specials at pet goods stores as these are great ways to stock up on supplies on a budget. The next time you see a "buy two get one free" type of sale, consider giving the extra bag of food to shelter pets in need.

2. Cat Litter
Cats will appreciate your donation of kitty litter

Kitty litter is another product that you can never have enough of in an animal shelter. Just like pet food, many rescue organizations prefer to keep their litter brand consistent so check with volunteers before dropping off your donation.

Along with cat litter, shelters may be in need of new litter boxes, scoopers, or mats, all of which would be wonderful gifts during the holiday season (or any time of year). Check with your local shelter to see what they might need.

3. Cleaning Supplies

Any pet lover knows how messy it can get caring for one four-legged friend. Now imagine an entire facility full of cats and dogs.

Store-bought cleaners, sponges, and buckets are a necessity at animal shelters, but volunteers may also need a new supply of cloths and rags. The next time you are getting ready to upcycle old t-shirts, check and see if your local rescue can use them as cleaning rags.

4. Blankets

It's an item you normally wouldn't consider giving, but gently-used blankets make perfect animal shelter donations. Metal cages can be cold and uncomfortable, and a cozy blanket can give shelter pets a sense of warmth and support.

Oftentimes, shelter pets get so attached to their blankets that they even take them along to their forever home. Since many pets take them home, shelters are at a high risk of running out of blankets.

5. Money/Gift Cards

Unused gas cards can help with the expense of transporting shelter pets

Of course, animal shelters rely upon cash donations to run smoothly, since medical bills for the animals are a great expense. Another way to help rescues with operating costs is by donating unused gift cards to home improvement stores, big box chains, and pet supply companies. Even unused gas cards can go to good use, as shelter volunteers often travel all over the country to transport animals in need of a loving home.

When time and money are in short supply, you can still give back to animals in need by donating food, blankets, unused gift cards, and more to animal shelters in your area. Cats and dogs may not be able to say, "thank you," for your generosity, but their wagging tails and adorable purrs reveal their appreciation and gratitude.

How do you like to help animals in need? Share your ideas on Twitter! #GoodMatters

Image sources: Pixabay | Laurie Fanelli | Wikimedia Commons

This article was brought to you by Tom's of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom's of Maine.

Why It’s Good

Running an animal shelter is expensive, and many local shelters rely on the generosity of members of the community to keep things running smoothly. When time and money are in short supply, consider helping shelter pets by donating food, blankets, and more to your favorite rescue.