Enrichment for Shelter Animals

Kennel stress is a potentially serious problem for animals living in shelters. The term “kennel stress” refers to the confinement insanity that occurs when animals are kept in enclosures for extended periods without enough opportunities to exercise, think, socialize and rest. We all understand the importance of keeping animals physically healthy through veterinary care, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, but it is important to note that stress and behavior problems can be just as deadly as illness.

What does kennel stress look like? Spinning in circles, jumping, hysterical frequent barking, chewing on kennel bars or on their own bodies are common kennel stress behaviors in dogs. Cats may over-groom, over- or under eat, sleep around the clock, sleep in their litter boxes, hide under bedding or resist leaving their cubby hole. In serious cases, both cats and dogs may become aggressive, making them unsuitable for adoption. In addition, stressed animals are more likely to get sick.

Can kennel stress be prevented? The risk of kennel stress can be dramatically reduced or eliminated by providing a variety of sensory and intellectual activities for our animals. Both cats and dogs benefit from varied scents such as broth or fruit, sounds such recordings of classical music or chirping birds, social interaction with staff and volunteers, obedience training, opportunities to play outside and being offered a variety of toys and treats delivered in unusual ways such as frozen in ice cubes or tucked inside of foraging toys.

The SPCA of Texas is committed to providing enrichment for our shelter animals to keep them healthy and happy during their stay with us.

Your in-kind donations make our shelter enrichment program possible.

The following items are needed immediately and can be delivered to the Perry Animal Care Center in McKinney or the Dealey Animal Care Center in Dallas.

Animal Enrichment Wish List Items

  • New Items
    • Ice Cube Trays
  • Recycled Items
    • Empty Water or Soft Drink Bottles (rinsed and with labels removed)
    • Empty Toilet Paper and Paper Towel Dowels
    • Soothing Music CDs (no strong beats)
    • Nature CDs (no thunder or storm sounds)
  • Purchased Items
    • Broth or Bouillon
    • Squeeze Cheese
    • Kool-Aid Packets (unsweetened)
    • Cat Nip
    • Feathers (craft store)
    • Treats
    • Kongs
    • Firehose Toys