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
3 ripe bananas
32 ounces of plain yogurt
1 cup peanut butter
Blend together bananas, yogurt and peanut butter. Pour the mixture into an ice cube tray, novelty shapes are suggested. Freeze until solid.
“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
1 cup flour
½ cup oats
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 mashed banana
1 tablespoon honey
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet with coconut oil.
Mix together flour (or wheat flour), oats, one egg, peanut butter, mashed banana and honey.
In a separate cup, lightly beat the egg white from the other egg.
Roll out the dough to ¼ inch thick on a floured surface. Cut into desired shapes, place on cookie sheet and brush with egg white.
Bake for 35 minutes or until golden and firm.
Keepsakes for owners
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.
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 cup of water
Heat oven to 250 degrees.
Mix together flour, salt and 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 to create the desired shape.
Gently and firmly press your pet’s paw into the dough until you can see the impression of the paw on the dough.
It’s important that you thoroughly rinse the paw to remove any dough that may have stuck to it. Alternative you can use your own fingers to create a paw shape in the dough.
Use a straw or similarly shaped implement to create a hole at the top for a ribbon.
Bake for about 2 hours until it is hardened.
Let the ornament cool overnight and then decorate with paint, markers, or whatever supplies you have available.
Loop 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. Using common household items and a bit of creativity, pet owners can help their animals have a happy holiday without ever needing to brave the cold.
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.