Because every animal deserves to experience love and joy, especially during the holidays.
woman holding cat while volunteering at an animal shelter; how to help pets this holiday season
Credit: Martine Boudreau / EyeEm / Getty

The season of giving is here, and we can't think of a better way to celebrate than to help beloved animals in need. Every pet deserves unconditional love and the chance to be spoiled as they wait to be placed in a good, loving home. Fortunately, there are many ways you can do your part, whether it's from your home or in person.

From raising awareness on social media to fostering a pet, here are some of the best ways to give back to pets in need this holiday season.

1. Volunteer at Your Local Shelter

Shelters could always use a helping hand—especially during the holidays. Volunteering at your local shelter gives you the chance to care for dogs and cats while they await adoption. You'll learn how to socialize, exercise, and train adoptable pets while helping maintain the facility and connecting visitors with their new forever friends. Volunteering is a rewarding experience that benefits all involved: you, your community, and of course, adoptable pets.

2. Shop for a Cause

While shopping for gifts for Fido or Fluffy, look for businesses that donate a portion of their profits to animal welfare organizations—or ones that have the option to donate to a pet charity at checkout. With initiatives like this, you can feel good knowing your purchase helps a pet in need. A few companies that give back include AmazonSmile, Petco, PetSmart, Chewy, Dog for Dog, Cuddle Clones, and Grounds and Hounds.

3. Make Gifts for Shelter Pets

No pet should go without a special gift this holiday season. If you love crafting, surprise animals in need with DIY Christmas gifts, like handmade squeaky toys, ornaments(!), and snuffle mats. For even more holiday cheer, treat shelter pets to homemade tuna and catnip kitty treats or peanut butter oatmeal dog treats. You can also arrange toys and treats in individual goodie bags for the ultimate gift—entirely made with love. In any case, these special surprises are sure to get all the nuzzles and tail wags.

4. Give Back at Your Holiday Party

Throwing a holiday party? Consider hosting a pet food or donation drive to help a shelter or rescue of your choice. You can encourage guests to bring donations and set up a designated area where they can place their donations upon arrival. There's power in numbers, and small gestures like this one can make a big impact.

5. Spread the Word About Shelter Adoption

Social media is an incredible tool that has the power to change shelter pets' lives. By sharing posts of adoptable animals from your local shelter or rescue, you can generate awareness—and maybe even get them into loving homes faster. What better than the chance to unite a human and a pet during the holiday season?

6. Donate Supplies to Your Local Shelter

Have extra pet supplies? There's a shelter pet who could definitely use them. Shelters often need essentials like unopened food and treats, beds, blankets, toys, collars and leashes, and cleaning supplies. Reach out to your local shelter to see what items they need most throughout the holiday season and donate whatever is in good condition if you have it. You can also purchase items off your local shelter's Amazon wishlist (if they have one) or make a monetary donation. Regardless of how you donate, your contribution is undoubtedly going to a great cause.

7. Foster (or Adopt!) a Pet Over the Holidays

Fostering and adopting saves lives. By fostering a cat or dog, you can welcome them into your home and help them thrive as they wait to be placed into their forever home. (It's a win-win, really.) If you're looking for a forever pal and are ready to adopt, a shelter or rescue is the perfect place to find a pet you can bond with and love for a lifetime.

8. Read to Shelter Pets

Spending time with pets is good for them—and us. Some shelters have programs where animal lovers of all ages can read a story to cats and dogs to provide companionship to them in a calm setting. This not only creates a positive interaction for the pet, but it can also help with socialization, reduce stress and anxiety, and ultimately, improve their chances of being adopted. Contact a local shelter or rescue near you to see if they offer a reading program to get involved.

9. Sponsor a Pet

If fostering or adopting isn't an option at the moment, sponsoring a pet helps care for a sheltered animal directly. Your contribution can help pay for necessities like food, beds, spay or neuter surgery, vaccinations, and medication.

A few organizations that allow pet sponsorship include:

These are just a small portion of the many rescues out there that offer sponsorships. Check with your local shelters and rescues for more opportunities to make a difference through sponsorship.

10. Show Your Appreciation for Shelter Staff

BOBS from Skechers and Petco Love showed their gratitude to shelter employees this season by gifting 1,000 pairs of BOBS footwear to 15 organizations for their endless support in helping pets find homes. That's an amazing way to give back if you ask us. No matter whether it's a simple thank you card or a holiday gift basket, let your local shelter workers know their hard work is recognized and appreciated.