bcreative: DIY to keep pets happy at home

No matter how innovative you try to be with playtime, sometimes things can get a little stale. Like humans, all pets need new experiences to challenge them mentally. A bored pet can mean a sad pet, and, possibly, a pet who takes out their frustration on your favorite rug. Here’s the good news: it can be fun, rewarding, and easy to stimulate your pet at home. Here are some DIY projects you can do that will help keep both you and your pets entertained.

Hidden treat snuffle mats

Your pet’s sense of smell is a perfect source of stimulation. A snuffle mat is an easy homemade toy for hiding treats that invites your pet to “snuffle” around for a reward. Dogs may be a little more enthusiastic about it but this can work for a kitty, too. Constructed with a rubber sink liner and strips of fleece, the end result is a cute, somewhat chaotic mat of fabric strips (think giant shag carpet) with lots of folds where snacks can hide.

Pets might seem confused at first, but trust us, they’ll have fun puzzling it out. Though there are lots of ways to stimulate pets involving treats, be sure give in moderation, adjust your pet’s other caloric intake accordingly, and connect with your Banfield Veterinary team if you have any questions.

For safety’s sake, use strong fabric without loose strings that your pet could ingest, and always supervise your pet when they’re using the mat. Regularly check to ensure that the ends of the fabric aren’t becoming frayed or chewed off, and take the mat away if it becomes stained or soiled.

Frozen delicacies

There’s no motivator like a little delayed gratification. It's easy to make pet-safe DIY frozen treats that your pet will have fun licking and crunching as they experience new textures and temperatures. Any liquid your dog loves can be turned into a pup-sicle with just an ice tray.

If using water, you can hide treats like blueberries in the center for a grand finale. Peanut butter (as long as it’s unsalted, no-sugar-added and xylitol-free) is safe for your pup and is easy to spread on a favorite chew toy before freezing for a little added challenge.

Cats like a chilly treat too – a lot. Freeze their cat food or blend it with water or tuna juice to make some healthy treats. (Wait, did we just say “tuna juice?” Yes, that’s a thing.*) Whatever you freeze, let it thaw until the surface is no longer dry to the touch before giving it to your pets (we don’t want any stuck tongues), make sure it’s not toxic to pets, and monitor while they munch.

Cardboard hideaways

If you’ve got an overflowing paper recycling bin, you’ve got an opportunity to DIY your way to a whole new lifestyle for your pets. Ok, you might not be able to construct a mansion out of delivery packaging, but you can create a fun and functional hang out spot.

The simplest version of this is obvious: break out the old (clean) moving boxes under the bed and assemble them for your cat to hide inside. If you’d like to kick up the creativity, grab scissors, tape, and non-toxic art supplies and get to work. Cats like to hide and, depending on the size of your dog, they wouldn’t say no to an at-home training course tunnel or hide-away either. With the cardboard from just a few boxes, you can assemble a house with a roof, a series of “box-cars”, a tunnel – anything you can imagine. Just make sure that it has plenty of exits, no sticky tape waiting to catch long fur, and no sharp edges.

If you’re spending more time at home, remember that down-time doesn’t have to result in boredom. Allow your pets to inspire you to see things from a different perspective, and try things out of the ordinary when the routine gets stale. If you do any fun DIYs, post a pic to social with #PetTogethering and #BanfieldBlog so we can see!

* No matter how much your cat loves it and no matter how good it looks, don’t try a sip of frozen tuna juice. Trust us.

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