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21 Budget-Friendly Supplies Your Local Animal Shelter Can Use Right Now

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on August 14, 2023

There are certain items your local animal shelter can never get enough of. Whether it’s dog treats, cleaning supplies, or snacks to energize the volunteers, these 21 donations are always appreciated!

Best of all, you don’t have to break the bank to help the animals in your community. The variety of items on our list ensures any pet lover can find something within their budget.

To compile our list of essential items, we checked out the Amazon wishlist of our friends at Stray Rescue of St. Louis (SRSL). With a massive facility housing more than 100 dogs, a veterinary trauma center, 60+ staff members, and 1,000+ volunteers, these guys know what an animal shelter needs!

1. Martingale Collars

Martingale collars are essential for animal shelters. Unlike traditional collars, martingales have a second, smaller loop of fabric with a D-ring attached. When the dog pulls on the leash, the smaller loop tightens, causing the main neck loop to tighten as well. This ensures that the collar does not slip over the dog’s head and also helps with leash training.

Martingale collars are adjustable and shouldn’t tighten past the width of the dog’s neck. They are a secure, comfortable way to keep pups safe on walks!

2. Slip Leads

Like Martingale collars, slip leads offer a safe, secure option for walking dogs. The loop tightens when the dog pulls to ensure they don’t get loose during outings or adoption events.

“Slip leads are our current biggest need. (Any color is fine!) We use these to walk all of our dogs, they are awesome and we recommend them to all dog owners!” – SRSL

3. Stainless Steel Dishes

Plastic dishes retain bacteria and can become dangerous chew toys for bored pups. Shelters prefer stainless steel because it is safer and more sanitary. The folks at SRSL like these bowls, which also help “slow down some of our dogs that gobble up all their food in 2 seconds.”

4. Healthy Dog Treats/ Training Treats

“The dogs have eaten all of their treats again! We use them for training and teaching some manners before they are adopted! We’ll take any brand and anything on sale!” – SRSL

Shelter dogs get lots of well-deserved treats while awaiting their forever homes. Stray Rescue’s training team loves Single Ingredient Dog Treats for the pups in their care.

5. Pill Pockets

“Many of our dogs are on antibiotics or taking some sort of medication. Pill pockets make it so easy for our staff, and our dogs LOVE them!”

According to our pals at Stray Rescue of St. Louis, some dogs are too smart for pill pockets. Their secret weapon? Velveeta Cheese!

6. Safe Chew Toys

Whether they’re pups or seniors, gnawing helps dogs stay calm and busy during their stay at the shelter. Unfortunately, rawhides, real bones, and inferior chew toys are too dangerous, but Nylabones are always safe and fun!

“Stray Rescue dogs LOVE their Nylabones. They are safe and keep our puppies from chewing on their foster family’s furniture!” 

7. Kong Toys

Tougher chewers and dogs with separation anxiety may prefer Kong toys. They are safe for powerful jaws and can be stuffed with Kong Stuff’n, peanut butter, yogurt, and other tasty treats for hours of fun flavor.

“Our chewers need things to keep them busy while they wait for their forever homes!” – SRSL

8. Toys for Super-Aggressive Chewers

“Even Kongs are no match for some of our tough chewer dogs! These should keep those power chewers busy!” – SRSL

9. Puppy Training Pads

Puppies, elderly dogs, and those recovering from injuries, surgeries, or illnesses can’t always make it outside to go potty. Puppy training pads are great for lining cages and keeping dogs clean and dry.

“We use so many puppy pads, we will use any brand on sale but like the idea of using eco friendly products! Save puppies, save trees, save oceans!” – SRSL 

10. Tarps

“We love to offer tarps to our foster families so while they foster messy puppies their floors stay beautiful.” – SRSL
Tarps also come in handy at adoption events. Staff can place them under puppy playpens for easy cleanup.

11. Heavy-Duty Trash Bags

As you can imagine, shelters go through trash bags rather quickly. Large, heavy-duty bags are best to prevent leaks.

12. Pet-Safe Disinfectant Cleanser

While shelters do use heavy-duty cleaners when necessary, products like REScue One-Step are best for cleaning cages and high pet traffic areas. Free of harsh chemicals and gentle on people and pets, this cleanser is a must-have for rescue facilities.

“This is the cleaner we use at Stray Rescue which kills anything and everything a dog could be carrying and spreading to their friends.” – SRSL

13. Antibacterial Handsoap

Animal shelter staff and volunteers wash their hands several times a day. They can always use gentle, antibacterial soap refill bottles.

14. Toilet Paper

Even the humans gotta go sometimes!

15. Paper Towels

Perfect for picking up poop and soaking up pee, animal shelters go through paper towels faster than puppies go through teething toys!

16. Facial Tissue

Whether it’s allergies or cold and flu season, animal care workers get the sniffles, too.

17. Snack Packs for Guests, Staff, and Volunteers

Stray Rescue stocks their vending machines with cookies and chips to make a bit of extra money for the animals. Quick, easy snacks also come in handy for the staff and volunteers on busy days.

18. Puppy Playpens

An easy portable way to give litters of puppies space to stretch their paws. These puppy playpens can be folded up and brought to adoption events or loaned out to foster parents.

19. Portable Dog Crates

Shelters and rescues often transport dogs from other facilities and cruelty/hoarding cases. Portable crates are also great for adoption events and temporary housing when kennels are full.

20. Storage Bins

“We use these for our events, as well as for storage around the shelter!”

21. Storage Shelves

Shelters love to take advantage of great deals by buying in bulk. Plus, awesome community members are always bringing generous donations. So, extra storage shelves are a must!

Before making a purchase, contact your local shelter to find out which items they currently need most or ask if they have their own Amazon Wishlist.

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