white dog sitting in a living room surrounded by Christmas gifts

10 Gifts that Support Animal Rescue Organizations this Holiday Season

There is no denying that the holiday season is officially upon us. Christmas music plays on our favourite radio stations, retail stores are putting up their holiday displays and incredible sales are popping up everywhere.

Not only is this a great time to save money on your holiday gift-giving, but it’s also the perfect time to purchase gifts that support animal rescue organizations.

Celebrate the true meaning of the holiday season by giving back with these popular wishlist items.

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If you are a rescue supporter, then you know that our local animal shelters and rescue organizations are often working to do the best they can with limited budgets.

To continue providing care for animals in need, they need our help.

These needs include volunteers in several different roles, financial support, and a need for basic animal care supplies.

While you’re putting together your holiday shopping list, consider taking advantage of the holiday sales and purchasing some supplies to donate to rescue organizations in your area.

The following list outlines some of the much-needed supplies that can be found on wishlists across the country.

Remember: You don’t have to fill a shelter’s complete wishlist to make a difference.

Every donation helps!

If you are planning to donate to a specific shelter or rescue organization, consider reaching out to find out what they need or checking their social media accounts for requests.

Otherwise, consider donating the following items that are always in demand.

Celebrate the Holidays with These Much-Needed Gifts that Support Animal Rescue Efforts

Cleaning Supplies

These are often the wishlist items that are most overlooked as they aren’t ‘fun’ like toys and treats.

However, animal shelters go through a lot of cleaning supplies daily and the cost of these items can add up quickly.

Most shelters need garbage bags, rubber gloves, bleach, laundry detergent, paper towels, and disinfectant wipes, among other cleaning items.

Office Supplies

Another ‘boring’ category of items that most shelters will happily accept are office supplies.

While these organizations would love to put all their money directly towards the pets in their care, the administrative work behind the scenes does require some supplies.

This is all necessary in order to organize adoptions, maintain pet health records, organize fundraisers, and do other work necessary for the operation of a successful shelter or rescue organization.

Examples of office supplies that most shelters need include pens, folders, printer paper, printer ink, and batteries.  

silver tabby cat sitting in a wrapped Christmas gift
Image Credit: FatCamera | Canva

Collars, Harnesses, and Leashes

Many rescues include a collar or harness and a leash, or a slip lead, in the cost of adopting a pet to ensure that you have everything you need to get your new family member home safely.

These accessories are also needed to take the dogs for regular walks.

With the regular turnaround of new pets coming and going, most shelters and rescues need collars and harnesses in a wide variety of different sizes.

In addition to collars, harnesses, and leashes, they would likely also appreciate biodegradable dog poop bags.

After all, with a large number of dogs, they go through them at a surprisingly high rate!

tobeDRI Reflective Dog Collar and Dog Leash Set

Keep your pet safe with this classic yet stylish leash and collar set. Made of high-density nylon webbing and padded with 3mm neoprene, it is extremely soft and comfortable. Available in 4 sizes.

Blankets and Towels

In a shelter setting, bedding is a hot commodity.

Pet beds, sheets, blankets, and towels are constantly being rotated due to potty accidents and illnesses.

Many find their way to the garbage bin after being chewed up or simply wearing through from repeated use.

Most shelters and rescue organizations will happily accept not only new items but also slightly used options as long as they are in good condition.

If you’re planning on upgrading your towels or bedding this holiday season, take the opportunity to also give back.

Food and Water Dishes

Did you know that experts recommend cleaning your pet’s food dish at least once each day and that their water dish should be cleaned weekly?

If that sounds like a lot of work with the pets that you have at home, now picture keeping up with that routine in a shelter setting!

By having a larger supply of food and water dishes available, shelters and rescues can rotate them as needed, making the health of the pets in their care a top priority.

The most popular food and water bowls are basic stainless-steel dishes due to their durability and how much easier they are to clean and sanitize.  

Mighty Paw Non-Slip Stainless Steel Dog Bowls

This bite-proof 2-pack of stainless steel dog bowls won’t rust or discolour over time. The BPA-free silicone bottom allows even the most enthusiastic dogs to enjoy their meal without it sliding around on your hardwood or tile floors. Available in 3 sizes.

Kitty Litter and Litter Boxes

It should come as no surprise that any shelter or rescue organization with cats goes through a lot of kitty litter daily.

Most shelters prefer non-clumping clay litter as it works for cats of all ages and helps to lower the risk of obstructions from those who may try eating their litter.

In addition to kitty litter, most shelters are also in need of basic litter boxes that can be used in their pens and cat rooms.

These may not be the most exciting items to shop for, but they are so important!

Puppy Pee Pads

While we’re talking about bathroom necessities, puppy pee pads are another item that shelters and rescues are always in need of.

Not only are these used for potty training, but they are also a great solution for urinary incontinence in senior dogs, beneath cat litter boxes to avoid accidents, and in the pen with new litters.

They may not look like much but puppy pads help significantly to cut back on the amount of cleaning that shelter volunteers have to do daily.

Pet Carriers and Metal Creates

If you are looking to pick up a larger item to donate to rescue organizations this holiday season, travel carriers and wire crates are always needed.  

From bringing pets to the vet to quarantining animals when they are sick, they serve many important roles.

While these items can carry a larger price tag, you can often find great sales during the holiday season.

Another great option for picking up carriers and crates is to check online sales boards and websites, picking up gently used options at a fraction of the cost.  

MidWest Homes for Pets iCrate Dog Crate Starter Kit

Whether you’re just starting crate training or looking to upgrade your dog’s space, this kit has everything you need. The kit includes 1 fully equipped 2 door iCrate, 1 dog bed, 1 crate cover & 2 (1 quart) pet bowls. Available in 6 crate sizes.

Food for All Life Stages

One of the biggest expenses that rescues face, outside of the cost of veterinary care, is the ongoing cost of feeding all the animals in their care.

This cost climbs even higher when faced with restricted or specialty diets.

From high-nutrition kitten food to that is formulated to support the mature stages of a senior pet’s life, there are many different nutritional needs to consider.

Most shelters and rescue organizations will be more than happy to receive any opened food, including canned food and kibble.

small white dog wearing a santa hat with a gift
Image Credit: Radule Perisic | Canva

Toys and Treats

This is arguably the most popular option on the list.

After all, who doesn’t want to go shopping for fun items like treats and toys that the pets can enjoy?

When shopping for toys, the sturdier, the better.

Consider purchasing high-quality brands like Kong, West Paw, and Chuckit!.

As for treats, most rescues will take any packages of treats that are unopened.

However, you should avoid any dog treats from China as well as rawhide chews due to the risks that these options carry.

Giving to others is one of the best parts of the holiday season, and the precious animals in the care of your local rescue organizations are no exception.

Consider starting a new holiday tradition!

If you aren’t sure about what to purchase and don’t want to contact the shelter to find out, you can always pick up gift cards for your local pet store.

No donation is too small. Together, we can make a difference for those in need.

white dog sitting in living room with Christmas gifts, text states: 10 Christmas gifts that support animal rescue organizations

Can you think of any gifts that support animal rescue organizations that I missed on our list? Share your ideas in the comments and inspire others to spread some holiday cheer!

Feature Image Credit: pixelshot | Canva


  1. This is also a great option if you live overseas and want to send a gift to a friend in the US and Canada. You don’t have to worry about humungous postage – always a great thing!!

    One thing I agree 100% with is the ‘boring’ office supplies. Buying stuff to keep a rescue office ticking over is as important as buying the cat treats or collars.

    1. Yes! I think people often overlook the office supplies because they don’t think about the work that’s happening behind the scenes.

  2. I try and buy gifts for my family through Cats Protection or something similar, this year I really want to give back so I’ll have a look at my local animal rescue centre x

  3. This is something that many of us don’t think about that have rescued pets. Thank you for writing this. I’ll put a donation to our local shelter on our list of things to do this holiday season.

    1. With 5 rescue pets in our house, we have committed to trying to make a difference when we can. The deals during the holiday season really do make our money go a lot further!

  4. What a great list! I donate to a couple of local rescues pretty frequently thought-out the year, but taking advantage of holiday sales is a great way to purchase items to donate for anyone who has a bit of extra money this time of the year.

    1. We just started doing a focused holiday donation a couple of years ago and I can honestly get far more for the same amount purchasing supplies with the combination of bulk purchasing and Black Friday sales if I wait to do my donations now!

  5. I love all these ideas! When I volunteered at the shelter, laundry detergent and linens were always in short supply.

  6. Animal rescues are near and dear to my heart, so I love that you’ve made this list! It’s such a good idea to think outside the box and look at giving those “boring” items. I feel like those would be donations that would stand out because they are more rare and so needed. I actually hadn’t ever thought of donating things like office supplies to a rescue. Thanks for the ideas!

    1. They really do stand out. Everyone LOVES giving toys, treats, and all the ‘fun’ stuff but there is so much more that goes into providing care and saving those in need.

  7. These are great ideas! I’m still cleaning out my mom’s estate and house and I will make sure that the “boring” items such as office supplies go to my local shelter. I hadn’t thought of my shelter for these items. We also have a lot of fabric, many of which could make nice blankets. I’ll call and ask if they would like it. Thanks for this thought!

    1. I am sure that they would really appreciate all of that! The office supplies and ‘boring’ items are often overlooked, but without them, the organizations simply couldn’t operate the way that we are used to.

  8. Such a great reminder for the season of giving–give to those who need it the most. Fantastic suggestions for anybody who wants to help shelter pets.

    1. Unfortunately, the holiday season has become super commercialized over the years. I would love to see it come back to the true meaning of the season and focus on coming together to share joy. This is a great way to do it!

  9. This list is spot on. As a person that previously worked at a nonprofit, I can attest that this list includes everything an animal rescue needs to keep the engine going and help the community. I was surprised how the small things really help. One person’s trash bags and extra blanket really is another’s a treasure! Perfect guide for the holidays to help those in need.

    1. Yes! I think a lot of people get hung up with whether their donation is ‘enough’, worrying about getting something that’s big enough, costly enough, etc. But the truth is that many of the items that they need can be purchased second-hand or on clearance, or even found sitting around our homes unused.

  10. With all the focus on the people on our gift list the shelters are often neglected. None are more deserving than the animals. Thank you for sharing this extensive list.

    1. It’s so true! The holiday season is all about giving and what better time is there to focus on the sweet animals that can’t provide these necessary supplies for themselves?

  11. Brilliant list and reminder for all those that are shopping on Black Friday. I last month donated two garbage bags of all new dog clothes, leashes, collars and food to a non profit and it was a great feeling with the approval of Layla of course

    1. That’s a great donation! We’ve been making a few around here as we sort through all of our belongings and get packed for the big move coming up!

    1. It’s the perfect time to make donations like that because everything is on sale! Plus, we tend to save up for the holiday season anyway, so why not include a little extra in that savings plan for organizations in need (if it’s feasible, of course, it’s not always an option).

  12. Wonderful suggestions, Britt. I hadn’t thought about office supplies for shelter staff, that’s a great idea. I also donate puppy & kitten formula, which is especially helpful for foster parents.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    1. I never thought about office supplies until I was helping one of the local rescues with some paperwork behind the scenes. Now, it’s one of the things I try to think of anytime I’m putting together a bag of donations!

  13. I was honestly surprised with this list, especially donate some of the office supplies to shelters. That’s one idea I never thought of. I really enjoy your reading your posts as you have such brilliant ideas. Thank you for sharing these suggestions. This is actually really helpful. I love to donate and even more during Christmas time. This is perfect. Thank you for the list.

    1. Thank you! The office supplies are honestly one of the most overlooked items. However, there is a business side to rescue that needs to keep rolling for everything to work!

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