Here Are 13 Donations Most Animal Shelters Need

Getty Images Pet Drive 2014: Benefitting The Animals Of New York Animal Care And Control
Getty Images | Jamie McCarthy

Whether you are looking to donate gently used items or you want to stock up on sale items at a pet store, there are many ways you can give to a local shelter. In doing so, you will not only be contributing to the health and rehabilitation of a needy animal, but you will be supporting a worthy organization.

Here are the top items that most animal shelters need*:

1. Thundershirts

These shirts apply gentle, constant pressure to calm anxiety, fear and over-excitement. As you can imagine, this a huge must in a shelter environment. Maybe you bought a few for your pups that they didn’t end up liking, or that you never use. If so, why not donate to a local shelter that could put them to use?



2. Feliway Spray

Along that same vein, Feliway spray mimics cat pheromones and helps ease cats’ anxiety. As a result, it can reduce urine-marking and scratching. This not only leaves shelter cats happier and calmer, but when potential adopters come by to visit, the cats are friendlier and more relaxed… plus the place doesn’t reek of kitty urine!

3. Laundry Detergent

Not many people realize that animal shelters go through a heck of a lot of laundry. Pet blankets get dirty fast, especially when animals are sitting on them in their cage all day. It’s also a hygiene issue, as germs can spread quickly and lead to “shelter flu” if blankets aren’t cleaned properly. So the next time you have a coupon for laundry detergent or you see a good deal at Costco, stock up and donate to the local shelter.


4. Pet Food

Well, this one is kind of a gimme! Of course shelters need food. But, remember: Some foods will be preferred over others. For example, canned cat food might be preferred over dry cat food, or there may be a specific need for a sensitive formula dog food. You might want to call your local shelter before making any purchases but, generally speaking, any food will be welcome! (However, homemade food and treats tend to be a no-no.)

5. Human Food

Human food, you say? Yep. While some human food items, such as creamy peanut butter and squeeze cheese, are actually for the animals, many shelters also happily accept food donations for volunteers and for pet adoption events. If you love to bake or if you scored a bunch of pretzel rods or sparkling water on sale, you might consider donating them to the animal shelter. It will be a “thank you” to those humans who so kindly and selflessly serve the animals all day long.


6. Trash Bags

Animals can be messy. Running an office can be messy. Combine these two and you have got a ton of trash on your hands! Trash bags are a wonderful donation for animal shelters.

7. Cleaning Items

From bleach to cleaning spray to brooms to dustpans to mops to sponges, animal shelters need it all.

cleaning supplies photo
Flickr | internetsense

8. Hand Soap/Hand Sanitizer

This is not only for the volunteers, but also for the potential adopters who come by and pet the animals. It cuts back on the spread of germs, which is benefical to both pets and humans.

9. Toys

Toys are a good thing to donate, but not every shelter will desire the same types of toys. Some prefer no homemade toys or no toys with catnip, as it gets the kitties too wound up. Others prefer no “sparkly” toys, as it can be a hazard if the cat ingests some of the tinsel. Check before dropping off your donation.

10. Office Supplies

From pens to paper to tape to batteries to stamps, an animal shelter is an office just like any other, and they need supplies to keep things running smoothly.


11. Gift Cards

Gift cards to places like Amazon, Office Depot, Target, PetCo and similar stores will bring grateful smiles to everyone at the animal shelter. (Plus, they are easy to drop in the mail, rather than lugging a giant container of litter to the front door of the shelter.)

12. Heating Pads

Many animal shelters use heating pads to keep litters of young ones warm. If mama isn’t around, these babies have no way to modulate their own body temperature, and they need heating pads to thrive. Most places prefer the kind of heating pads that do NOT have an automatic shut-off feature.


13. Towels, Blankets, Pillowcases, Etc.

Most of us have ratty, old towels we’re too embarrassed to trot out when company is around. Or perhaps you have a pile of old sheets that are sitting unused in your wardrobe. Whether it’s a blanket, a pillowcase or a beach towel, most linens are happily accepted by animal shelters. Do them a favor and give them a good washing beforehand, preferably with an unscented and gentle laundry detergent.

And remember, even the smallest donation can make a HUGE impact for a small creature in need.


*I advise you to call your local shelter to ask for a “Wish List,” or check out their website, before making any big purchases. Every shelter will vary based upon their needs and donation guidelines. If you want to use your donation as a tax credit, make sure you save your receipts.

[h/t: Little Things]

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About the Author
Bridget Sharkey
Bridget Sharkey is a freelance writer covering pop culture, beauty, food, health and nature. Visit Scripps News to see more of Bridget's work.

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