Your pets are part of the family.
You would do anything for Fido, and in all honesty: you may even love him more than a whole lot of people in your life.
That’s all right, because we feel the exact same way about our pets.
Just as we would treat any important member of our family, we want to give our animals the very best of everything. Organic treats, luxurious bedding, the most squeak-able of squeaky toys… Nothing is too good for them.
Well - at least until you see the total amount you have to pay for their gifts on the cash register screen.
The fact that Amazon saw a 45% increase in pet-related sales in the last year should be no surprise due to COVID, but there’s also a significant rise in pet business ecommerce with owners realizing that what they give their pets matters.
It’s just not always cheap.
Luckily, there are a few DIY treats and toys you can make for your fur-babies that are enjoyable for them, easy on your wallet, and good for the environment!
Yummy (Vegan!) Treats
Making good treats for your pet may seem like a challenge - but you’ll find that they’re super simple to make.
You don’t have to be the best chef to make the best treats in town, and even better: you can make them vegan!
There’s a ton of recipes to model your treats after on the internet, but feel free to get a little creative.
Let’s start with potential ingredients.
In terms of the base flour, you might want to think of this pretty carefully. Coconut and almond flours are both high in plant-based protein, and create enough of a binding agent in your treats so they don’t fall apart. However, the highly processed white flour isn’t a great option since it doesn’t add nutritional value to the treat. Whole wheat flour should be fine, so long as you know that your pal is gluten tolerant - but if you don’t want to take that chance, it might be smart to favor gluten free options instead.
Now we can get into the fun stuff: flavoring ingredients! For dog treats, fiber and protein are your best friends. Peanut butter, sweet potato, pumpkin puree are all super nutritious and delicious options for pups. You can also consider getting a couple of greens in there, like spinach and wheatgrass that contains plenty of antioxidants and iron.
In terms of ingredients to avoid in doggie treats: try to avoid soy as a protein alternative to meats, as it can cause issues for thyroid function. When you need moisture for the recipe, opt for flaxseed or olive oil instead of heavily processed vegetable oil.
Are you a proud kitty owner looking for treat ideas? Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten you! While you might not put your cat snacks in cute little bone molds, there’s still plenty of options in terms of ingredients. Some fruits like bananas and apples make for excellent ingredients in kitty treats, as well as a good dose of pumpkin for hairball digestion.
Mix and match using this recipe as a guide… Healthy treats topped with a sprinkle of catnip? Your cat will worship you.
Your favorite chain pet store always has the cutest seasonal toys for your pet…
That never last very long.
Whether it’s because of the quality of the toy or the fact that your fur-baby is able to tear it up in about 5 seconds, you can’t help but think about what a waste of money it was... Or: just a waste in general.
Pet food and treat packaging alone creates 300 million pounds of plastic waste a year - so imagine how much more is added on when you consider tossed out toys and their packaging.
But ditching the store-bought toys doesn’t mean you can’t make your own. Think of the plastic lid your cat is obsessed with laying on, or how your dog takes every chance he gets to steal an old milk carton.
Thankfully, you can make your own that are way more exciting than that, and still make your pets happy.
You can search “homemade pet toys” anywhere on Google or Pinterest, but here are a couple of our favorite ideas!
For a toy that your dog will love to play tug-a-war with, we love the idea of using old tattered t-shirts and twisting them into a rope.
Got a dog that loves a good puzzle? Try using an old cereal box and hide their favorite (homemade!) treats in there. Tape it up and give your pup the challenge of trying to open it.
If you’ve got kids and decent sewing skills, you can create cute “creature” toys using extra scraps of fabric. Have your kids draw up a pattern and shape with what sort of creature they want to give their pet, along with letting them pick out the fabrics. It’ll make a great craft project for them, and an excellent gift for your furry family member! You can do this with both dogs and cats - and we highly recommend stuffing the toy with catnip for the latter.
Speaking of cats, you can make an instant hunter out of them by making a “whack a toy” box from a soda box.
As you might know as a cat owner, they also love small, enclosed spaces designated for themselves. Instead of buying a new cat house, why not just make one?
You can go with materials as simple as cardboard, and it’s another great project for kids to decorate. To finish it, put a nice comfy bed in the house that’ll make your feline friend feel like they have a home within a home.
Clearly you can make pet toys out of… Well, everything. It just depends on how creative you get! Just make sure that the materials are pet friendly (nothing that they can unsafely ingest), and you’re good to go!
Plenty to Make, Money and Earth to Save
There is no doubt that high end, sustainable pet businesses are here to stay.
And that’s great!
We’re all for small businesses using creative and innovative ways to make eco-conscious, sustainable snacks and toys for our four-legged family members.
But we want those same sorts of products and quality to be affordable for everyone.
Until that happens, we’ll make our own… And frankly: have fun doing it.
We promise your pets won’t know the difference. Or care. They’ll love the gifts you give them pretty unconditionally.
Like how they love you.
What was your favorite DIY toy/treat you’ve given your pet? Comment below!