“Most shelters are nonprofit, which means they rely solely on the generosity of donors to operate,” says Renee Collins, director of adoptions and resident care at Bideawee, a pet welfare organization in New York City and Long Island.
Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA CEO Julie Bank echoes this sentiment. “Donations from the community help us provide food and medical care to more than 12,000 animals that come through our doors each year,” she says.
So, what do shelters need most? The answer varies by organization, but these supplies are nearly always in demand.
Donating Made Easy
If help for animals is one of your holiday to-dos, we've got good news: Using Chewy Wish List, you can find out exactly what supplies your local organization needs most. Search our network for shelters and rescues in your area or, if you have a favorite organization, find them by name. Then shop their curated list of pet products, and Chewy will deliver them directly to their doorstep.
Animal Shelter Donations for Dogs
1. Dog Food
Want to donate dog food? Animal shelters definitely need it!
“With so many animals coming into our shelter, we constantly need donations of dog food and treats,” Bank says.
Before you donate dog food, be sure to check with your local shelter first to find out if they have a preferred diet they feed their pups.
2. Dog Treats
Yummy treats could be a tasty surprise for the dogs at your local shelter.
“Shelter pets love long-lasting dog treats or peanut butter that we can stuff into rubber dog toys,” Collins says.
You can also look for dog treats that provide some health benefits, like the Earthborn Holistic’s bison meal dog treats, which are rich in fatty acids and antioxidants.
3. Large Dog Beds
Large dog beds are particularly needed at shelters during the winter.
“Shelters love donations of large dog beds since animals sharing a kennel may want to snuggle up together or a larger dog may need a comfy spot to stretch out,” explains Jack Hagerman, VP of communications at the Pasadena Humane Society.
A low-cost choice, like the Frisco quilted fleece pet bed, could be perfect if you’re looking to get a few at a time. It also comes in several large sizes to suit bigger dogs, like German Shepherds and Great Danes.
4. Elevated Dog Beds
Elevated dog beds, like the Frisco steel-framed elevated pet bed, keep pets comfy on uneven, cold surfaces. This type of bed is always the way to go, Hagerman says.
“Not only does it keep our furry friends off the floor, it offers better support and durability,” he explains.
5. Dog Clothes
Dog clothes can be useful animal shelter donations, especially for rescues in cooler regions.
“We try to make sure that every dog and cat has something cozy of their own at the shelter,” Bank says.
In addition to keeping the animals warm, it’s also a great way to show off the adoptable dogs, notes Hagerman.
Animal Shelter Donations for Cats
1. Cat Beds
You can't go wrong with a cat bed. “Our cats love anything soft and plush or den-like because many of them prefer to hide,” Collins says.
MidWest’s Quiet Time cat bed may be a good option because it’s plush and over-stuffed, making it a cozy spot that’s perfect for catnaps. It also sports a non-skid grip bottom and synthetic fur that washes and wears well.
2. Cat Treats
Call or visit your local shelter to find out which type or brand of cat treats would make the best donation at their facility.
3. Cat Food
Like dog food, cat food also is a much-needed pet donation item to give to your local shelter. You can opt for dry or wet food, but again, keep in mind that shelters may like to stick with a diet that their cats are used to, so it’s important to ask what their cats are currently eating.
4. Cat Toys
Felines are playful critters, so cat toys are a must! “Balls and things that dangle are tops,” Collins says.
5. Cat Litter
What’s a kitty-cat essential? Cat litter!
“Clumping litter is typically preferred, but each shelter may have a specific type that works best for their needs,” says Hagerman.
Other Ways to Help Pet Shelters This Winter
Not every animal shelter donation needs to be store-bought pet supplies, Bank and Collins say. Here are four ways to offer your time and assistance this winter to help animals.
- Foster a cat. During kitten season, volunteers can foster new kitties to help them socialize to the point where they can be adopted.
- Be a walker. Taking healthy dogs out for a stroll gives the shelter staff extra time to care for the more critical animals.
- Raise money. Host a bake sale, put on a car wash or set up a Facebook fundraiser to benefit your local shelter.
- Adopt a pet. If you’re ready to give a dog or a cat a good home, meet with an adoption counselor to find the right breed and age for your lifestyle. Find out about the most common breeds in shelters, and browse adoptable pets online.
More Ways to Help