The holiday season is a time to show appreciation to our loved ones, both people and pets. Handmade toys and treats are a wonderful way to do so and allow owners to avoid busy stores during the pandemic, to ensure their gift is pet-safe, and to add a personalized DIY touch.
Courtney Markley, a veterinary student ambassador at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, offers some ideas for pet-safe holiday fun that can be found around your home.
While the roast Fido may reach for during your holiday dinner can cause gastrointestinal issues, pet owners can provide safe and tasty treats as alternatives that hit the spot for their pooch. Markley offers up two holiday recipes that dog owners can make from pantry staples:
Holiday Ice Cream Treats for Dogs
- Blend together 3 ripe bananas, 32 oz plain yogurt, and 1 cup peanut butter.
- Pour mixture into holiday shaped ice cube trays.
“Rub coconut oil on the ice cube tray before adding the mixture to make getting them out easier,” Markley recommends.
For a more traditional treat, owners can make pet-safe holiday cookies for their dog to enjoy.
Peanut Butter Holiday Cookies for Dogs
- Grease a cookie sheet with coconut oil.
- Mix together 1 cup flour (or wheat flour), ½ cup oats, 1 egg, 1/3 cup peanut butter, 1 mashed banana, and 1 tablespoon honey.
- In a separate cup, lightly beat 1 egg white.
- Roll out the dough to ¼ inch thick on a floured surface.
- Use holiday cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes.
- Place on cookie sheet and brush with the egg white.
- Bake at 300 degrees until golden and firm, about 35 minutes.
For a more permanent gift, pet owners can make low-cost, but high-fun, toys out of common household items. For dogs, Markley says all pet owners need to make a festive toy is a holiday themed sock and a tennis ball.
“Place an old tennis ball inside a holiday sock and tie a knot in the sock just above the ball,” she said. “These toys are fun to throw long distances and for tug of war!”
Cat owners can also get in on the fun. For a simple, but effective, toy, pet owners can decorate empty toilet paper rolls with a holiday theme and cut fringe on the edge of the roll or shapes out of the middle.
“If you have an old mitten or a mitten that’s missing its mate, you can pour cat nip into the glove and hand sew it closed with a simple stitching pattern,” Markley said. Your feline friend won’t be able to keep their paws off of it!
Keepsakes For Pet Parents
Owners also can make a holiday decoration for themselves to remember the merry season spent with their pet. Markley offers a recipe for a simple salt dough that can be stamped with your pet’s paw and baked to harden.
- Mix together 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, and 1 cup of water by hand until a dough is formed.
- Roll out the dough to ½ inch thick and smooth out the top.
- Use cookie cutters or free hand a design in the dough into whatever shape you desire.
- Gently and firmly press your pet’s paw into the dough until you can see the impression of the paw on the dough.
- IMPORTANT: thoroughly rinse the paw to remove any dough that may have stuck to it. Alternative: use your own fingers to create a paw shape in the dough.
- Use a straw to create a hole at the top for the ribbon.
- Bake at 250 degrees for about 2 hours until it is hardened.
- Cool overnight and then decorate with paint, markers, or whatever you have available.
- Attach a ribbon through the hole to hang it.
It is important that owners do not allow their pet to eat the dough or the baked ornament because the quantity of salt will make them sick.
There is plenty of holiday fun to be found at home this season. By using common household items and a bit of creativity when crafting gifts, pet owners can help their animals have a happy holiday without ever needing to brave the cold!
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.