Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can add your furry friends to your holiday gift list. Gifts for dogs and cats are inexpensive and super simple. You can even easily pull together homemade pet gifts from items that are already in your house.
For a no-fuss dog gift, a fresh jar of peanut butter is a nice idea, assuming the pup enjoys the flavor and it’s nutritionally okay for him. Peanut butter is a popular and versatile treat, especially when rubbed inside a hollow rubber toy with a hole, such as a Kong. Dogs will happily lick the peanut butter out. To add a festive flair to the grocery store purchase, tape a homemade label over the jar’s actual label. Draw a fun design and mention the dog’s name, perhaps something like “Skippy, exclusively for Tessie.”
If you prefer a more gourmet homemade dog gift, pull out the baking supplies and whip up some healthy homemade dog treats. The internet is full of recipes for Bowser Biscuits. This dog treat recipe, originally from the Humane Society, includes, among other items, a banana, peanut butter, soy milk and flour.
Ben from the Santa Fe Animal Shelter provides this recipe:
Peanut butter and oats biscuits
- 2 cups whole wheat flour (you can use another type of flour if your dog is sensitive to wheat)
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/3 cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth
- 1 1/4 cups hot water
- Additional flour for rolling
Preheat oven to 350° F
Mix dry ingredients together.
Pour hot water over mixture. If it’s too wet, add more flour; if it’s too dry, add a bit more water.
Roll dough into balls. Press down slightly and make a cross-hatch fork mark on the dog cookies. Or, if you want to make photo-worthy dog treats, roll the dough until it’s 1/4 inch thick, and cut into shapes with cookie cutters.
Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet for 40 minutes. Turn off the oven and let biscuits cool overnight.
If you and your dog can’t wait that long, cool them completely on a wire rack before serving. The cookies will get very hard, just the way dogs like them!
Homemade cat toys and cheap cat gifts
Kitties are terrific at repurposing. So many items that seem ordinary — even trash to us — are exhilarating for cats. That offers potential for budget-friendly cat gifts.
Cat toy suggestions from the Humane Society of the United States include round plastic shower curtain rings, ping pong balls (perhaps tossed into a dry bathtub), paper bags without handles and tubes from paper towel rolls.
Tie little bell balls to string, or several strings, for a swinging musical toy that dangles from a doorknob, suggests Susan Hargreaves, founder of Humane Educators Reaching Out and Animal Hero Kids. Your cats will enjoy swatting at it.
Create a kitty condo for a fun homemade Christmas gift for your cats. Fasten a few cardboard boxes together, and cut out sections for windows and doors. For decoration, add the cats’ names or other embellishments.
Another simple cat gift idea is to line old shoeboxes with soft layers of old towels to create small cozy beds. For larger cats, use larger boxes.
DIY dog toys
Old socks are a good starting point for homemade dog toy gifts. Remember, if you’re going to introduce a dog to the idea that socks are toys, it’s going to be your responsibility to keep “good” socks out of the pup’s reach, says Ben of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter. Dogs shouldn’t be expected to know the difference between humans’ favorite socks and the well-worn pair that’s acceptable for play.
For a sock toy, Ben suggests inserting an empty plastic water bottle into a sock. Tie the top of the sock into a secure knot. Lots of dogs enjoy the crunching noise of the water bottle. A similar variation is a tennis ball or two tossed in a sock, with the top tied. The toy works nicely for toss and fetch games. As with most toys, it’s always wise to supervise play. Remove and discard toys if a dog is gnawing through the items and possibly ingesting bits of fabric or plastic.
Here’s another DIY project that kids can help with (and dogs love): Make a braided-rope dog toy
Homemade gift vouchers for your friends’ pets
Looking for gifts for your friends’ cats and dogs? Select a nice activity for you and the pet to enjoy together, then create and print out a gift voucher to give to its human. A dog walk or excursion to a dog park might be the perfect present for a pooch that’s part of a neighbor’s or friend’s family. If you’re so inclined, offer a dog bath or petsitting for a pal’s cat.
For youngsters designing gift vouchers for their own pets, encourage them to think about what their animals enjoy. Surely lots of kitties would happily cash in vouchers that offer rubbing behind the ears. Warning: Even if the pet eats the voucher, you should still provide the treat. After all, dogs and cats can’t read!