Animal shelters provide a crucial service for animals that are abandoned, rescued, or surrendered.

The volunteers and staff that work there give food, water, exercise, and love to the cats and dogs that find themselves there.

The ultimate goal is to find forever homes for the animals, but there's a lot that happens in between arrival and departure for every animal. That's why animal shelters need a great deal of supplies to keep running. Here are some common household items that they often need.

1. Old Towels

Once a towel has been downgraded from a guest towel to a kids' towel to a cleaning-up-spills towel, where can it go? If it's still functional as a towel, your local animal shelter will be happy to take it.

They use towels for everything from drying off strays to making a comfy habitat for new arrivals. There are also plenty of baths, spills, and accidents happening every day at every shelter. In other words, they need your towels.

2. Cleaning Supplies

If you want to buy something to donate, you should ask what the shelter needs specifically. However, if you have cleaning supplies that you simply aren't using, you can offer those.

Shelters frequently need rubber gloves, laundry detergent, bleach, and many other products to tackle the daily messes that a building full of dogs and cats produces. Any money they save on these items can go toward other vital supplies that make life easier for the people who run the shelters.

3. Heating Pads

Heating pads can be useful for warming up rescued cats and dogs. When a shelter accepts a dog from a puppy mill or a stray that was out in the cold, staff need to warm the animal up. Heating pads are a great tool for this.

Heating pads are also useful for keeping kittens and puppies warm. Usually the mother's body performs this function, but shelters must sometimes care for motherless litters. Donating a heating pad ensures those poor little babies are cozy.

4. Canned Tuna

Shelters discourage donating most human food. Animals have different nutritional requirements and their stomachs can be more sensitive to ingredients than ours. 

One exception to this rule is canned tuna. The protein-rich snack is great for cats and kittens. Just make sure it is packed in water and not oil. 

5. Office Supplies

Like any organization, shelters have a great deal of administrative work behind the scenes. That means pens, Post-Its, and other office supplies must be purchased with the shelter's often-tight budget.

Donating these essential but common supplies can ease the pressure on the organization. The less they spend on office supplies means more to spend on toys and beds for the animals.

If you're considering donating goods to your local shelter, always call or check their website first.

Many organizations will have an Amazon Wish List that spells out exactly what they need. These shelters help take care of animals who have gotten a raw deal. Let's do them a good deed in return.

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