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DIY Pet Projects

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A Schnauzer with a red bandana is sticking their tongue out and sniffing a treat

DIY pet projects can be a fun craft for you, your family, and your friends. Whether you’re interested in making homemade treats or customized toys, there are countless “do it yourself” projects you can tackle.

Why DIY?

Even though your instinct may be to skip the crafting and go straight to the buying, there are many benefits to making some of your pet’s things yourself.

For starters, you can save money and use items already around your home. Plus, with homemade treats, you’ll have much more transparency about what your pet is eating. And as the cherry on top, taking the time to carefully craft something your pet will adore can strengthen your bond and be a great way to show your love.

DIY Dog Treats

All dogs are good dogs, which means they all deserve a delicious treat now and then. Instead of purchasing your pup’s treats from the store, consider making your own. Homemade treats can be tailored to include your pup’s favorite foods while also prioritizing any dietary restrictions they may have.

Frozen PB&B Treats:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup softened coconut oil
  • 1 cup xylitol-free peanut butter
  • 1 medium banana, preferably ripe

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and smash together with the backside of a spoon. Once everything is thoroughly mixed, place the mixture into a sealable plastic bag.
  2. Snip a corner of the bag and squeeze the mixture into a silicone mold of your choice—there are so many fun shapes to choose from! Place in the freezer until firm. The silicone molds will make it easy to pop out the frozen treats. Store treats in a plastic bag or container in the freezer.

Apple and Oat Pretzels:

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups oat flour
  • ¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a hand whisk, beat the egg and set aside.
  2. Combine the applesauce, oat flour, and rolled oats in a large bowl. Put one tablespoon of the whisked egg to the side and pour the rest on top of the mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir all ingredients until a dough has formed. If the dough is too sticky, mix in a small amount of flour until the dough becomes tacky.
  3. Roll out two tablespoons of dough at a time to about 10 inches in length and approximately the width of a pencil. You will then want to lay the dough in the shape of a ‘U,’ twisting the ends together and folding it back toward the top to create a pretzel shape. You can pinch the ends in to secure them better. Place pretzels on a prepared baking sheet and brush the tops with the remaining one tablespoon of egg.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until they appear slightly browned or crispy. Remove from oven and let cool completely before serving to your pup. These can be stored in airtight containers for a few weeks.

DIY Doghouse

If you have a nice, fenced-in yard where your dog enjoys spending their time, they may appreciate a doghouse. These small structures can give your pal a cozy place to nap or hang out in the shade. Just remember to bring your dog inside when the weather becomes extreme.

While you can find pre-made dog houses for sale at a variety of stores, they may not have the size or style you’re looking for. Plus, the price may be slightly higher than you wanted. Instead, planning and building a doghouse yourself may prove the perfect way to get precisely what you want, for the right price, and you’ll have a fun project.

You’ll first want to design your doghouse or find a free plan online. You can customize and style the house however you wish, whether it’s a cabin theme, has a front porch, or is made to look like a mini version of your home. Be sure the house is sized appropriately for your dog and plan carefully so you can purchase the correct amount of materials.

Even after the structure is built, you can add some finishing touches, like a toy bin, some pet-safe plants, or a custom, non-toxic paint job.

DIY Cat Tree and Scratching Post

Cats love many things, including stretching, napping, birdwatching, and playing, and cat trees can provide a spot for your feline friend to do all these activities. You can even have multiple trees throughout your house. A cat tree can have a few or many levels, snuggly beds, cozy resting spots, perches, toys, and scratching posts all attached. To add to the fun, you can create any sort of design that appeals to you, including one that is cartoon inspired or nature themed.

If you don’t want (or have the room for) a large cat tower, building a smaller cat scratching post is still a great option for your home and cat. Depending on how many cats you have and your living space, you can consider building a couple and keeping them in various rooms.

Whether you design an elaborate cat tower or a streamlined scratching post, either can be a fun adventure. A great place to start when doing a DIY project is to find some inspiration! You can walk the aisles of your local pet store or search online to get a visual of what you want to build. Next, you will need to consider the size of your structure and the materials you’ll want to use. Many people use plywood or 2x4 studs and cover them with carpet or rope. You can also get creative by repurposing items you might already have lying around your house, such as an old speaker or an unused nightstand.

As you go about the construction, be sure to have a sturdy base that will help keep the tree or post upright, even when your cat is jumping on or off it. As you’re wrapping up the project, be sure to give it a once over before handing it over to your cat. You’ll want to double-check that everything is secure and that no nails or screws are sticking out and that the glue has fully dried.

DIY Cat Toys

With just a quick search, you may become overwhelmed by how many cat toy options are available. To keep your cat’s options interesting and to spoil them a bit, try making cat toys. As long as the toys are cat-safe (i.e., no buttons, small pieces of string, or rubber bands), you can conveniently use common household objects for your cat’s entertainment. Options include:

  • Empty boxes
  • Crumpled paper (assuming they don’t like to eat it)
  • Plastic egg with beans inside
  • Empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls
  • Paper bags (avoid using plastic ones)

Other options, which include a bit more crafting, include:

Kitty Ragdolls

Using a small piece of fabric of your choice, place a few pinches of catnip in the center. Bunch the remaining fabric around the catnip and tie it into a tight knot. Cats typically prefer these types of toys to be smaller, so you can trim off some of the remaining fabric if necessary.

Fishing Cat Toy

You’ll need a pole or stick of any form, a string or shoelace, and a toy such as a feather, bell, or ball. Tie the string to one end of the pole, and use the other end of the string to attach the selected toy. It’s best that your cat only plays with this type of toy when they’re being monitored.

Food Tumbler

Select a clear plastic container with a lid, such as a water or shampoo bottle. Thoroughly clean and dry the container so there is no leftover residue. Cut one small hole (or more, depending on the size of the container) that’s no bigger than a quarter.

Place a small amount of kibble inside the container and secure the lid. Hand it over to your cats and watch as it gets their brain working, figuring out how to get the food inside.

DIY Cat Treats

With so much playing and napping in their schedules, it’s no wonder cats can work up an appetite. Before you buy treats at the store again, consider making your own at home. Homemade treats can be less expensive than store-bought alternatives, you’ll have more transparency about the ingredients used (great for cats with allergies or restrictive diets), and they’re a fun way to show your feline friend some extra love and appreciation.

Salmon Snacks:

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz. canned salmon
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, gently beat the egg. Pour the salmon (undrained) into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Pour all ingredients into a mixer and mix until a smooth dough has formed.
  2. Roll out the dough to about ¼ inch thickness. Using a sharp knife or cookie cutter, cut out the treats (being mindful not to make them too big) and line them on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool completely before giving them to your cat.

Pumpkin Bites:

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. canned salmon, drained (or can substitute with another fish)
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Add oats to a blender and blend until they form a fine flour. Combine the oat flour, salmon (drained), pumpkin, egg, and avocado oil. Mix well. Form the dough into bite-sized pieces and place on a baking sheet or press the dough into silicone molds.
  2. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until firm. Allow to cool completely before giving them to your cat. Can be stored in the refrigerator for about four days.

‘Do it yourself’ projects are beneficial for many reasons: you can save money, ensure that your pet’s stuff is made well, have better control over materials and ingredients used, it’s a creative outlet, and it’s fun. Not to mention, with many at-home projects, there’s a good chance you’ll already have the materials you need, so no extra trips to the store are needed. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to recycle and repurpose unused items you have sitting around. As you work on these projects, you can have other family members help, and chances are, if you have a curious feline or nosey canine, they’ll lend a helping paw, too.

An ASPCA® Pet Health Insurance plan can help you with eligible costs for covered conditions like surgery expenses for accidents and help provide peace of mind that your pet can receive the care they need. Check out our online resources to learn more about your insurance options and get a free quote today. The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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