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Your Ultimate Foster Dog Shopping List

Your foster dog needs love — but they also need stuff.

by Courtney E. Smith
September 6, 2022
collage of person and pet products
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After the pandemic adoption trend, shelters are overpopulated as even longtime owners are forced to surrender their pets because of inflation. Right now, volunteering as a foster parent is one of the most helpful things you do can do. As a foster, you can provide a safe place for dogs who are on their way to their permanent home and relieve the stress on the shelter staff. But before you sign up, you know know: Getting into the foster game requires a little prep work — and a little prep shopping.

Ahead of your foster journey, stock up on the necessary tools to help you and your new friend succeed. Let’s get the obvious ones out of the way: You’ll definitely need dog food, but you should always continue to feed them whatever the rescue, shelter or past owner was feeding the dog. And hey, throw in some fun stuff, too. They’ll love being with you all the more if you don’t just give the pups what they need but give the pups what they want.

One helpful bonus for foster families: all your unreimbursed purchases for fostering from qualifying organizations can be written off as a tax deduction. Below, everything you’ll need to set yourself and your foster pup up for success.

french bulldog on a pee pad

Most dogs you’ll foster will not enter your house a potty-trained pup. Regular old disposable pee pads will do the trick but you better make sure you have enough of them stockpiled for inevitable accidents. These Amazon wee wee pads will help your foster dog get the hang of things as you work on housebreaking. You’ll be extra thankful that you made the investment when you have the run out for a quick errand and come home to pee-free furniture.

$23 at Amazon
the white gate with dog in front

If you have another dog in the house, you may need to separate your foster until they and the rest of the pack are ready for their big meet-and-greet. Or, you may need to leave the house, and if your foster isn’t loving the crate, a baby gate is a great way to restrict them to one room with an easy-clean floor and minimal destructive possibilities. A simple baby gate can provide boundaries for your foster and keep your couch pillows safe from anxiety-induced destruction.

$39 at Amazon

Btw, our editors (and their pets) picked out these products. They’re always in stock at the time we publish, but there’s a chance they’ll sell out. If you do buy through our links, we may earn a commission. (We’ve got a lot of toys to buy over here, you know?)

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Author Courtney E. Smith on a beach

Courtney E. Smith

Courtney is a freelance writer and podcaster whose work has appeared in Esquire, Pitchfork, Eater, and more. Her prior work includes working as an editor and music critic for Refinery29 and CBS Radio. And she's the author of the essay collection Record Collecting for Girls. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her rescue dog, Casey, where they volunteer together with the SPCA's foster program.