4 heartfelt, homemade gifts your pet will pant over

We do love our pets and there certainly are days when they feel like the only ones who should receive a special gift. But do you really need expensive pet beds, $14-a-pound treats or $30 "indestructible" chew toys that aren't really?

»RELATED: Best gifts for the animal lover

Instead, you can spend an hour or so making your dog or cat a present he'll enjoy at a price that will make you smile: less than $10 each. These four homemade presents may never make the aisles of PetSmart,  but your dog or cat will think they're gorgeous.

"Indestructible" dog toy from hemp and sweet potatoes: Even this chewy will get chewed up eventually, but it is tough, cheap and if your dog eats it it's okay (and actually fairly nutritious.)

What you'll need: 

  • Sweet potatoes or yams (2 for a medium-sized dog toy) $2
  • Hemp or jute rope: Part of a larger spool: $1
  • Sheet pan, parchment or foil, sharp knife, round cookie cutter, vegetable peeler

Total cost: $3 or less

General idea: Cut thick slices of sweet potato, punch a whole in the middle for threading and bake around 3 hours. Let cool fully before threading onto strong, durable hemp or jute for a ready-made chew toy.

More detailed directions are available at Instructables.com.

Pet bed from an old sweater: This is a wonderful way to use up some old clothes (perhaps an Ugly Christmas Sweater?) and worn pillows while thrilling Fido or Cuddles. Consider buying a well-worn plaid shirt from the thrift store or choosing holiday patterns to make this a gift that can go under the tree for the season.

You'll need:

  • An old sweater or sweatshirt: Free or $3 from a thrift store
  • Polyester or cotton stuffing: Around $4 from Walmart
  • An old pillow
  • Scissors, sewing pins, needle and thread

Total cost: $7 or less

The basic idea: Pin the front and back of the inside-out sweater along the neckline and sew the neck opening closed. Lay the sweater out and spread the arms to the side, then sew across the sweater from one underarm to the other. Stuff the sleeves with the polyester or cotton, tuck the ends into each other and sew them together so it looks like the sweater is hugging someone. Slide the pillow into the main body of the sweater from the bottom and sew the bottom shut. Flip the bed over, pin the circular arms to the base of the pillow and sew them together along the edge. 

More explicit directions can be found on the DIYS.com website.

Peanut butter dog biscuits: These are super tasty, cute and cost a fraction of boutique dog treats for the holidays. Plus, they're a great chance to finally use those Christmas cookie cutters. (If you want to make even less effort, Fido won't care if you make the alternative cookies, which are just balls of dough pressed flat with a fork before baking.)

Adapted from Dog Treat Kitchen


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour: about $1
  • 1 cup rolled oats: about 50 cents
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth: about 50 cents
  • 1 1/4 cups hot water

Total cost: about $2 per batch

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix the dry ingredients together, mix in the peanut butter and hot water, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky. Knead the dough well and roll out to 1/4-inch thick before cutting into shapes. Brush with an egg whisked with a fork. Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet 40 minutes. Turn off the oven and cool overnight. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for three weeks or freezer up to six months.

Home window view bird feeder. Give your cat the gift of watching birds up close for the cost of an empty milk carton, some duct tape and sunflower seeds. Just make sure to follow Humane Society tips on placing the feeders to draw the birds you want.

What you'll need: 

  • Empty half-gallon milk carton
  • Command hook: About $1
  • String, duct tape to decorate and bird seed: About $1

Total cost: $2 or less

The basic idea: Cut a large rectangle from two sides of an empty milk carton and decorate it with different colors or patterns of duct tape. Hang it right next to a window with a good viewing spot for your cat using a command hook and twine, and fill it with bird seed.

More detailed instructions can be found at Teach Beside Me.

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