pet tips from Lela Burris Organized-ish

12 Things To Donate To Animal Shelters

Want to help your local animal shelter but not really sure what you can do? This list breaks down the 12 most-needed donations animal shelters and rescues almost always accept.

Animal shelters and rescue groups are some of the hardest working organizations in the country, and a lot of these facilities don’t get regular government funding. More than half are completely ran on donations alone, from both the community and big companies. If you’re a lover of fur babies like I am, you’re always looking for ways you can give back to the people that keep these animals safe and healthy while they wait for their new families.

I’ve been volunteering at my town’s SPCA for quite a while, and I’ve noticed that we have a lot of community members that ask what we need on a regular basis. It occurred to me that people want to help, but don’t know how, and more importantly, they don’t know what supplies animal shelters use regularly. So I put together this list of the 12 most-needed items your local shelter or rescue group would be so grateful to receive.

what to donate to your animal shelter

12 Things Your Local Animal Shelter Always Needs

  1. Clumping Cat Litter
  2. Liquid Laundry Detergent and Fabric Softener
  3. Disinfectant Wipes and Spray
  4. Small Fleece Blankets
  5. Mop Solution (Fabuloso is usually the choice product)
  6. Vinegar
  7. Dish Washing Detergent (Dawn is usually the choice product)
  8. Canned Cat and Dog Food
  9. Bottled Water (for staff and volunteers)
  10. Cat and Dog Toys
  11. Towels (used are fine)
  12. Money and Time (volunteering is a great way to get your fur baby fix if you can’t have pets where you live)

4 Things NOT To Donate

  1. Bleach and Ammonia (some centers haven’t been cleared by OSHA to store these chemicals)
  2. Used pet toys (for the safety and health of the shelter pets)
  3. Expired food or medicine (if you wouldn’t give it to your pets, don’t give it to the shelter)
  4. Bones for dogs (whether they’re store-bought or leftover from your steak, skip the bones)

Planning To Donate Purged Items From Your Home?

Most animal shelters welcome your hand-me-downs like dog beds, kennels, dog houses, sheets and linens, and cat furniture, but before you load it all up in the car, give them a call to make sure.

It’s also a good idea to check out their Amazon Wishlist if they have one. There may be items on it that you have at home that your pets never used or liked.

And if you end up in a full-on purging spree, check out this post for more ideas on other places you can donate to, like nursing homes, senior centers, homeless shelters, and more.


  1. Great article. Animal shelters will really appreciate the donations!

    • Thanks! Hopefully that clears up confusion on what to bring and what to leave at home, but almost anything is much appreciated at just about any shelter you come across. We’re glad to help.

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