As a pet owner, you naturally want to spoil your furry pal by providing them with an overflowing toy bin and tons of tasty treats. However, those items’ costs can add up quickly, especially if your pet is a powerful chewer prone to shredding toys as soon as they can get their teeth in them. To help save your wallet and the environment, use household items or those set aside for recycling by repurposing them into engaging pet toys. By following our Emerald Animal Hospital team’s guidelines on making do-it-yourself (DIY) enrichment toys, you can restock your pet’s toy bin for just a few hours of your time.

Food-dispensing toys for your pet

In your pet’s eyes, the best toys are ones that dispense treats. However, regularly purchasing new treat-dispensing toys can quickly eat up your pet-care budget as you strive to keep your furry pal entertained. Although you may be tempted to shell out cash for engaging new toys, save that money by designing plenty of your own food-dispensing toys with items from around your house. Your furry pal will enjoy these creations:

  • Treat roller — Take a plastic water bottle and cut small holes in it that are slightly larger than your pet’s kibble or treats. Insert a handful of snacks, secure the lid tightly, and watch your pet paw or nose the bottle along the floor to get the treats to fall out.
  • Snuffle ball — Assemble fabric scraps into a loosely woven ball that your pet can shred apart. Place small treats and pieces of kibble in between the fabric pieces, and wad them up or weave them into the ball so they’ll shake loose as your pet snuffles them.

Activity toys for your pet

Any toy that encourages your pet to get up and get moving is a great item to have in your arsenal for battling pet obesity. If such a toy caters to your pet’s natural instincts, it can be wonderfully fulfilling, helping improve their happiness and wellbeing.

For your cat, consider crafting a wand or pole toy that dangles a tempting fabric mouse. Design a bird from a clump of feathers, or a spider from small fabric scraps, then tie the toy to a wooden dowel rod with yarn or string. Flick the toy enticingly in your cat’s direction and watch them stalk, pounce, and kill their quarry.

For your dog, design a digging zone. Use a sandbox in your yard, or set up a child’s wading pool in your living room, and hide toys and treats inside. Fill the digging zone with dirt, sand, foam blocks, or crumpled paper, and turn your pup loose to sniff and seek out their snacks.

Hide-and-seek toys for your pet

Encouraging your pet to use their brain tires them out mentally and physically, which is important for warding off behavior problems. While your cat may easily lose interest in a game of hide-and-seek because they may not care to find you, designing a toy that triggers hunting behavior can pique their curiosity. To craft a DIY hide-and-seek toy for your feline friend, follow these steps:

  1. Gather cardboard boxes that range in size from just big enough to fit a paw, to large enough to hold your entire cat. 
  2. In the smaller boxes, cut holes that are big enough for your cat to stick a paw in and snag a treat or toy. 
  3. In the larger boxes, cut holes big enough for your cat to slip through to seek out treats you have placed inside. 
  4. Create a cardboard tunnel to connect the larger boxes. Place the small treat and toy boxes at the first and last large boxes to entice your cat into the tunnel and then reward your whiskered pal for completing the maze.

You can change up this toy to suit your canine companion by putting strongly scented treats in small boxes, interspersing them with empty boxes. Your pooch will have to use their powerful nose to sniff out the boxes that contain treats. If your dog prefers, you can simply play hide-and-seek. Your pup will enjoy darting from room to room as you call their name to encourage them to find you.

Enrichment activities are crucial for keeping your pet happy and healthy. If your furry pal has inadequate enrichment in their daily routine, they can suffer from myriad medical and behavioral problems. Ensure your pet has plenty of engaging activities and toys to fill their days by discussing safe options with our Emerald Animal Hospital team.