You want to ensure your pet is mentally stimulated and physically challenged, but many trendy enrichment toys are expensive. Stop shelling out money for top-of-the-line toys. The truth is, your pet couldn’t care less about the amount you spend on their entertainment. Case in point: A cat can have loads of fun with a cardboard box you are planning to recycle. Join us as our Willow Wood Animal Hospital team gets back to the basics by sharing how you can make inexpensive yet engaging do-it-yourself (DIY) enrichment toys for your pet at home. 

Do-it-yourself enrichment toys for cats

Cats can be finicky, but you can provide them with toys that will grab their attention, encourage problem-solving, and reward them for a job well done. Make these DIY toys for your feline friend:

  • Treat-filled toilet paper tube — This simple toy engages your cat’s natural hunting instincts while providing a delightful treat at the end. This DIY toy is a simple and cost-effective way to keep your feline friend entertained for hours.
    • Materials —  Empty toilet paper cardboard tubes, cat treats, and a pair of scissors
    • Instructions — Flatten the toilet paper roll, and make a small cut on one side. Insert a few cat treats into the roll and fold the cut sides inward to seal the treats inside. Place the treat-filled tube on the floor, and watch your cat bat, pounce, and unravel it to reach the treats. 
  • Fabulous feather wand — This wand toy mimics prey movement, captivating your cat’s attention and encouraging them to leap, chase, and bat at the feathers. This DIY toy is interactive and low-cost, providing your feline friend with mental stimulation and physical activity.
    • Materials —  A wooden dowel rod or stick, string or twine, a small bell, colorful feathers, and a pair of scissors
    • Instructions —  Cut the string or twine and tie a piece around one end of the dowel or stick. Attach a small bell to the other end of the string. Securely tie several colorful feathers to the string. Wave the wand gently in front of your cat, and let the hunting games begin
  • Cardboard box maze — This simple maze provides endless entertainment for your curious cat. This DIY toy requires problem-solving, as your feline friend navigates the maze to find treats or toys. 
    • Materials — Cardboard boxes of various sizes, a pair of scissors, and duct tape
    • Instructions — Cut different-sized holes on the sides of the cardboard boxes, creating entryways for your cat. Creatively arrange the boxes, securing them with duct tape to form a maze-like structure. Place treats or small toys inside the boxes to entice your cat to explore and discover the hidden treasures inside.

Do-it-yourself enrichment toys for dogs

Pups of all ages love to play, but the price of keeping them busy can add up when you’re regularly buying new toys. Your canine companion will love these DIY toys, and so will your budget. 

  • Frozen treat dispenser — This tasty toy provides your dog with a refreshing treat on hot days while engaging their senses, especially their taste. This DIY toy is a simple and budget-friendly way to keep your canine companion entertained and cool.
    • Materials — A plastic food container with a lid, dog treats or kibble, and water
    • Instructions — Place a few dog treats or kibble at the bottom of the plastic container. Fill the container with water, close the lid, and place the container in the freezer until the water is frozen solid. Once the container’s contents are frozen, remove the container from the freezer, and let your dog enjoy licking and chewing their way to the treats.
  • Simple sock ball — The sock ball is a great toy for dogs who love to fetch or enjoy chewing. The sock provides a soft texture and makes it easy for your furry pal to grab onto the ball. This DIY toy is an inexpensive alternative to store-bought toys and allows for interactive playtime with your canine companion.
    • Materials —  An old sock, a tennis ball, and a pair of scissors
    • Instructions — Place the tennis ball inside the sock. Tie a knot at the open end of the sock, securing the ball inside. Trim any excess fabric to avoid unraveling. Get ready for a fun-filled fetch session. 

  • Snuffle mat — Snuffle mats engage your dog’s sense of smell. This DIY toy provides mental stimulation and keeps your canine companion entertained by tapping into their natural foraging instincts. 
    • Materials —  A rubber mat with holes or a rubber welcome mat, fleece fabric, and a pair of scissors
    • Instructions —  Cut the fleece fabric into long strips. Thread the fabric strips through the mat’s holes, securely tying them. Continue this process until the entire mat is covered with fabric strips. Hide small treats or kibble within the fabric, allowing your dog to use their nose to sniff out the hidden treasures.

The best part about any pet toy is the time you and your furry pal spend together playing. So, grab those materials, unleash your creativity, and start creating engaging and affordable enrichment toys that will bring joy and fulfillment to your pet, without breaking the bank. Support your pet’s mental and physical wellbeing by scheduling their next wellness exam with our Willow Wood Animal Hospital team.