21 Low Cost DIY Pet Products

by Pauline Milner
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Save money and the environment by making these inexpensive toys, treats, and supplies that will be healthier for both your pet and your budget than store-bought products.

Half of American homes have a furry family member. They add a lot to our families. But also a lot to our budgets.

These do-it-yourself pet items will save you substantial dollars and will be healthier than store bought brands. Comparable costs are shown, when applicable.

Editor’s note: Prices listed below will vary depending on where you live and shop.

1. Make a pH balanced shampoo using 2 cups each of apple cider vinegar and natural liquid dish soap and two ounces vegetable glycerin (88 cents versus $12 MSRP).

2. For dry, itchy skin, add 1 cup oatmeal and 1/2 cup baking soda to 1 quart of warm water. ($1.25 versus $14 MSRP)

3. Ear cleaner can be made with equal parts white vinegar and water saving you $20 off a vet add-on. Clean ears once a week with a natural cotton ball. (Nominal versus $6 MSRP)

4. Adding a few drops of lavender essential oil ($12/4 ounces) will control fleas. Add 1 tbsp. of coconut oil ($10/16 ounces) to keep skin from getting dry. A daily fish oil pill (4 cents each) will help pets prone to matted fur. These natural remedies will save countless vet and grooming visits and mounting costs for treatment.

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5. Toys for dogs and cats can be made from items found in your home or at a local dollar store.

6. For dogs, braid strips from a t-shirt, denim, dish towels, or a scarf into a tug toy. Poke two holes in a tennis ball and slide it onto the braid so it doubles as a chew toy. Dogs that are more into destruction than dining will love any plastic containers. Cover a water bottle with a sock for hours of crunchy fun or give them an empty peanut butter jar. (See Homemade Longer Lasting Dog Chews on the Cheap.)

7. For cats, braided fleece scraps and almost anything tied to a string (even a scrap of paper) will keep them busy. Tie the string to a door handle for independent fun. A scratch post can be made from a post (think PVC piping) put in a base and wrapped in spare rope.

8. To challenge your curious little ones, put treats in a muffin tin and cover the openings with tennis balls. Hide treats in resealed cardboard boxes or add some peanut butter to the ends of paper towel or toilet paper rolls if you do not mind a little mess.

9. Pet treats can be made in your kitchen, saving you 80% or more off retail prices. (See 7 Simple Affordable Pet Treats.)

10. Cut sweet potatoes (high in fiber, manganese, vitamins C and B6) into 3/4-inch thick pieces. Bake at 170 degrees for 6 hours, so they slowly dehydrate.

11. Dogs will love bacon sticks. Combine 1 1/4 cups milk, 1 tbsp. honey, 5 tbsp. bacon fat, 1/3 cup cooked and crumbled bacon, 2 1/2 cups oat flour, and 1 egg into a dough. Knead for 3 minutes. Cut into 24 pieces and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. You can store both of these treats, refrigerated, for up to 7 days.

12. Ask your local butcher or meat department for dog bones.

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13. Grow your own catnip at a cost of a few dollars for 400 seeds.

14. For hot summer days, freeze a rawhide stick in water to make “dogcicles.” To encourage even more hydration, freeze toys in water put in a bowl.

15. Upset tummies can be soothed with yogurt or feeding plain rice mixed with hamburger, and adding fresh ground mint or parsley to your pet’s food will cure bad breath.

16. Commercial pet carpet cleaners start at about $7.50. Make your own for about $1.25 a bottle. Mix 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1 cup baking soda, and 1 tsp. dish washing liquid and it will probably work just as well. You can let the mixture set to work on tough stains but be sure to check for color fastness first. (See Make Your Own Cheap Carpet Machine Cleaning Solution.)

17. Sprinkle baking soda on its own and leave it set for a couple of hours before sweeping or vacuuming to keep areas where pets frequent fresh. Baking soda can be used directly on your dog to control odor, but avoid their eyes and ears.

18. Use the plastic sleeve from your morning paper to pick up pet waste.

19. Make a pet bed from the bottom of an old suitcase with a fluffy pillow from a second hand store for less than $5.

20. If you want to get pet dishes off the floor, cut a hole in the seat of a child’s old chair to fit their bowls for a unique look. You can use any chair. You just need to shorten the legs to fit your pet.

21. When it is time to dress up, add your own bow tie or bandana to their collar.

You will save using these tips and your pets and home will be healthier and more environmentally friendly, too!

Reviewed August 2023

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