Numbering in the millions, dogs and cats in shelters are constantly in need. And with the new year, it’s just the time to commit to improving the lives of these furry sweethearts.  Learn what shelters need with our list of commonly requested items.

New Year’s is coming. And with resolutions just around the corner, we’ll bet that cleaning out your garage and cabinets tops the list. If you’re like us, you have lots of perfectly good stuff to donate this year. While you’re sorting through everything, keep your local animal shelters in mind. Running a shelter on a tiny budget takes creative solutions including gratefully accepting donations of everything from towels to toys to cleaning products (and of course, cash and gift cards). To find out what your community shelters need, give them a call or read on for a list of often requested products.

Bet on the Basics

Every shelter has specific needs, but you can be sure the following daily essentials are on their wish lists all year long: Dry and wet dog food, healthy treats, nylon and leather collars and leashes, poop bags, fleece crate mats, ceramic or stainless steel bowls, trash bags, newspapers, and plastic bags.

Take the Bite out of Flea Treatment

Help keep all the shelter residents flea-free when you donate any extra flea treatment. With every animal requiring treatment at every stage of shelter care from admission to adoption, the cost of these products adds up fast.

Keep Pets Cozy

Kennels, dog houses, carriers and cozy pet beds are always in need at shelters, so are bedding and blankets. Always in high demand, these essentials help keep pets comfy and safe in the shelter, on the way to the vet, and anytime the pets need to be separated for illness or special care.

Share the Spoils

Did a certain diva dog you know pass on a toy or treat you thought she’d love? If so, how about sharing those goodies with pups in need? New or gently used Nylabones, Kongs, stuffed dog toys, squeaky toys and the ever-popular tennis balls are popular picks for play and training.

Help Them Shine

Keeping shelters clean is a full-time job. Towels, bleach, sponges, laundry detergent, sponges and eco-friendly cleaners are much appreciated to help offset this expensive necessity.

The Scoop:

Visit or call your local shelter or rescue organization and find out what’s on their Wish List. Visit the Woof Report Adopt a Dog page for a listing of local organizations that need your help – many list their needs on their websites.

Thank you to the SF/SPCA and Boxer Luv Rescue in Phoenix for help with this tip.

Originally published January 2010; reviewed and updated January 2017.