shelterdog.jpg Almost 8 million animals enter shelters each year, according to the ASPCA. This gives shelter employees and volunteers an enormous amount of work to handle, but you can do your part by making donations to your local facility. Whether you love animals or you simply want to make a positive impact on your community, here are some items you can donate.

1. Used pet accessories

Did you know that many animal shelters are willing to take gently used pet items? If you have an old dog bed that your pup no longer needs or a lightly worn cat carrier, states that shelters are usually ready to take them. To find out if your items are suitable for re-use, contact your local shelter directly to learn more information.

2. Leashes

If your puppy has grown out of his leash or you’ve simply purchased him a new one, don’t throw away your old one! An animal shelter may have plenty of dogs that would appreciate your leash.

3. Environmentally friendly supplies

Eco-friendly pet items continue to grow in popularity, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Everything from environmentally friendly pet bedding to toys can be found these days, and as The Kind Life reports, many animal shelters love them. Think green when you go out to buy items to donate to your local facility.

4. Pet food

Perhaps you went a little crazy when you bought treats for your pet at home, and now you have extras. Whether it’s cat food, dog food or just snacks, animal shelters are always in need of food, according to The Cub. After all, there are many hungry mouths to feed!

5. Towels and blankets

Even humans enjoy cuddling up with a nice, warm blanket, so see if you can find any items to donate to your local animal shelter. Many facilities are also open to taking donated towels – these can be used for wet animals that arrive on the spot, or pets that need bathing.

6. Collars

If you have an excess of collars lying around your home, think about donating some of them to your nearby shelter. Typically, shelters will take all different shapes and sizes for their needs.

7. Laundry detergent

This is a household item that you might not immediately think of when you’re considering products to donate to an animal shelter. However, laundry detergent is essential to cleaning linens that are used around the facility, according to Huffington Post. Most shelters will gladly take it if you have it.

8. Newspaper

When you’re done reading your newspapers for the week, don’t just recycle them. Instead, consider giving them to your local animal shelter. Although it may seem like a small contribution, shelters regularly use newspaper for the bottom of animal cages. They can certainly come in handy and make cleanup a bit easier.

9. Hand sanitizer

Many people come through animal shelters, some of who are simply looking to take care of its critters on a volunteer basis. To keep everyone from visitors to staff clean, think about donating hand sanitizer to your nearby shelter. This can keep hands clean and disinfected in between taking care of the animals.

10. Plastic bags

If you have plastic bags around the house from your trips to the grocery store, why not donate them to a local animal shelter? Many animal shelters will take your plastic bags to use for pet waste around the facility. This is an effective alternative to recycling them and a way to keep the shelter clean.

11. Litter boxes

Cats of all ages can use litter boxes, and they make cleanup a breeze, whether they’re in a shelter or your own home. If you have a litter box to spare, think about donating it to an animal shelter. Many cats are litter box trained, meaning the shelter can get plenty of use out of these donated items.

12. Nursing bottles

If you’ve ever had a baby kitten or puppy, you might know what it’s like to bottle feed your own pet. Once your pet has grown up and graduated to kibble, think about donating your lightly used nursing bottles. Facilities, such as the Baltimore Animal Shelter, are in need of nursing bottles for their younger animals. Many shelters can use them for puppies, kittens and other small pets.

13. Heating pads

Believe it or not, animals can use heating pads, too! Before you get rid of your used heating pad, see if your nearby animal shelter can use it. It may be just what a cat or dog needs to stay warm during a long winter evening.

14. Meat-based baby food

Baby food (specifically meat-based food) is a favorite of dogs, according to BarkPost. If you have any extra cans in your pantry, think about donating them to your local dog shelter. Baby food can be easily mixed up with dry dog food to make a tasty meal.

15. Shampoo and brushes

If you have old brushes or a bottle of unopened shampoo that you’ve never used, why not donate it to your local dog shelter? Pet brushes and animal-approved shampoo can always be used by employees to keep animals clean at the facility. Good hygiene may also ensure that the animals maintain their well-being (and get adopted!). If you’re out of items to donate, you can always spend time at your local shelter as a volunteer. Many facilities are often looking for extra helping hands. Doing a quick Internet search of your nearby shelter can also help you create a list of items to donate. Most shelters post “wish lists” of items they need to keep everything in working order. Of course, adopting a pet is an easy way to help your local shelter, too. However, you’ll want to make sure you have all of the resources you need to give an animal a loving home. Visit the ASPCA website to find out if you and your family are ready to adopt a pet.