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10 Ways to Help Animals for the Holidays

The holidays aren't just for humans. Check out these 10 ways you can extend the spirit of the season to animals.

All Animals magazine, November/December 2015

by Catherine Hess and Tracy L. Scott

The holidays aren’t just for humans. With a few simple steps, you can make the season happy for animals everywhere—in your home and beyond.

1. Skip the Puppy Mills; Think Adoption

Photo by Kevin Wolf/AP Images for HSI

If you or someone you know is thinking of adding a four-pawed family member this season, avoid inhumane puppy and kitten mills. Instead, head over to your local shelter or rescue group. Make it a wonderful life for a rescued pet. Find a shelter at The Shelter Pet Project, and read our tips for avoiding inhumane puppy mills.


2. Drive With Animals In Mind

Photo by Richard Ellis/For The HSUS

Many families hit the roads for the holidays. Whether you’re visiting friends and relatives or traveling to a cabin in the woods for a quiet retreat, there likely will be deer and other animals attempting to cross busy roadways, most often at dusk. Don’t be afraid to use those high beams and drive a little slower in areas marked as animal crossings. Santa’s reindeer will thank you. Get more tips on how to give wildlife a "brake."


3. Clean With Kindness

Photo by pearleye/iStockphoto

With friends and family dropping by for home-cooked feasts or tree trimming, the house needs to shine brighter than Rudolph’s nose. Make sure to use animal-friendly cleaning products when preparing for your guests. You can find a list of brands that don’t test on animals at leapingbunny.org.


4. Feast With Furry Friends

Photo by Meredith Lee/The HSUS

While making vegan latkes and doughnuts for the humans, don’t forget about your furry friends. Help your pets get in the holiday spirit with festive treats just for them. Whether it’s homemade sweet potato jerky for your dog or fresh fruit for your bunny, include your pets in the feast. Beware of decorative holly, mistletoe and poinsettia leaves, which can be harmful if ingested.


5. Give the Gift That Keeps On Giving


Plant the seeds of compassion where they’ll grow for a lifetime. Give a grade-school classroom a foundation of kindness with a subscription to Kind News, our humane-focused children’s magazine.


6. Get the Most Bang For Your Buck

Photo by Lolostock/Shutterstock

Purchase animal-themed gifts that will actually help animals. The HSUS Store at the Animal Rescue Site offers everything from paw-print PJs to pet clothes, and proceeds benefit The HSUS. When ordering from Amazon, eBay, wine.com or other popular sites, check for the option to donate a portion of your money to The HSUS. 


7. Let Them Keep Their Coats

Robert Postma/First Light Design Pics Inc./Alamy

Keep the animals in mind when wardrobe-shopping for yourself or others. We don’t need to wear animal fur to stay warm this winter—there are plenty of humane, stylish alternatives. You can’t always trust ads and labels, so learn to tell the difference between faux fur and the real thing.


8. Fork It Over


The Grinch may dine on roast beast, but you don’t have to. Whether you’re serving breakfast, entrees, drinks or desserts, there are animal-friendly options. Find recipes that don’t use animal products, or if you are buying animal products, choose from more humane, sustainable sources, saving some animals from suffering on factory farms. Try one of our favorite recipes.


9. Avoid Animal Anxiety

Photo by iStockphoto

Kevin McCallister might have fared OK in Home Alone, but some pets have more trouble adjusting to an empty house. While you’re out shopping, ease your pet’s anxiety with a toy to keep her busy while you’re away. 


10. Get While the Getting Is Good


Don’t be a Scrooge. It’s better to give than to receive, and you can do both. Create a fundraising page for The HSUS at myHumane.org and ask your friends and family to donate in lieu of gifts. You’ll get the sense of accomplishment (and maybe some appreciative ear-licks) for helping animals while barely lifting a finger.