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What to Donate to Help Pet Shelters This Winter

Help shelter pets - sad dog at shelter

iStock.com/David Baileys

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Are you planning to help pet shelters this holiday season? As you shop for stocking stuffers for friends and family, it’s a great time to give back and help pet shelters by picking up much-needed items, like dog food, cat food and cat litter.

“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.

If you want to give animal shelter donations this winter, consider these 10 often-requested types of pet products. If you already have a specific shelter in mind, make a call or visit their website before purchasing donation items, so you know exactly what the shelter currently needs.

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.

American Journey’s canned dog food variety pack might make a good choice. It’s made without by-products, grains, corn, wheat, soy and artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.

Before making a donation, check with your local shelter first to find out if they have a preferred diet they feed their dogs.

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 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 in Pasadena, California.

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, like Frisco’s lightweight hoodie, are useful donations for shelters and rescue groups, especially 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.

“A colorful sweater or a bright rain jacket can highlight a dog’s personality and help them meet their new family,” Hagerman says.

Animal Shelter Donations for Cats

1. Cat Beds

“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

Cat treats are another in-demand donation item. Collins named Temptations brand cat treats as the preferred cat treat at her shelter.

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 donation item to give to your local shelter. You can opt for a dry cat food, like Cat Chow’s Naturals dry cat food, or a wet food, such as Miko Chicken & Turkey grain-free cat 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 your shelter what their cats are currently eating.

The Pasadena Humane Society, for example, feeds a mix of Hill’s Science Diet wet and dry food to their cats.

“And if any of our furry friends have special dietary needs, we make sure they get the appropriate Hill’s Prescription Diet formula each day,” Hagerman says.

4. Cat Toys

“Balls and things that dangle are tops,” Collins says.

What cat wouldn’t leap for Hartz’s Midnight Crazies cat toys? This package of seven jingling toys is a sweet way to entertain a bunch of felines and share the fun around the shelter.

5. Cat Litter

What’s a kitty cat essential? Cat litter!

Don’t forget about litter, like the Frisco multi-cat clumping cat litter, as you consider donating pet supplies this holiday season.

“Clumping litter is typically preferred, but each shelter may have a specific type that works best for their needs,” reports Hagerman.

You can also check the organization’s wish list before you shop, he adds.

Other Ways to Help Pet Shelters This Winter

Not every donation needs to be store-bought pet supplies, Bank and Collins say. Here are four ways to offer your time and assistance this season.

  • 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.

Giving back to the animal community this winter offers multiple benefits. Not only will you be helping worthy cats and dogs with your donations of pet supplies, clothes, treats and food, but you’ll feel good knowing you aided a needy organization this holiday season.


By: Jennifer Kelly Geddes

Featured Image: iStock.com/David Baileys