7 Homemade Pet Products That Are Cheaper and Better Than Store Bought

by Christa Avampato on 22 August 2014 3 comments

We love our pets. So much so that in 2013, Americans spent a whopping $55 billion on their furry friends. Almost $14 billion of that went to pet supplies and over the counter (OTC) medicines. (See also: 10 DIY Dog Toys You Can Make For Pennies)

But here's the thing: While recently browsing my local pet supply stores, I found that quite a few of the products contained ingredients that are less than healthy for my dog and the price tag was often pretty steep. I decided to do some price and quality comparisons and found I could make the following products healthier and cheaper than comparable products I could buy at retailers:

1. Toys

There are dozens of DIY toy ideas online. My pup loves to solve puzzles, especially when treats are involved. These puzzle toys usually involve hiding a treat inside a compartment that my dog has to figure out how to open. Nina Ottosson has a great line of puzzle toys for dogs and I have a few of them that cost me about $40 each. But I could have made this similar toy for my pup using a muffin tin and tennis balls for $5, and he also would have had the tennis balls to bounce around the house!

2. Bedding

Have you seen the price of dog beds lately? I recently went to my local Target to get my little guy a new cozy nap space, and small dog beds (of rather boring design and fairly low quality) cost about $25. Instead, I picked up a small vintage suitcase at my local thrift store that is in great shape and lined it with a plush towel and squishy pillow for less than $10. Try these inspiring designs for suitcase pet bedding.

3. Wet Wipes

In between his baths, I like to wipe down my pup with wet wipes, particularly after a long walk in the park or a stroll around the streets of New York. Most commercial wipes have chemicals in them that I'd rather not put on my pup's skin (particularly if he's likely to lick his paws!), so I looked into organic wipes that typically cost about $10. Instead, I followed Southern Wag's DIY recipe and made a better quality, healthier wipes for less than $3.

4. Shampoo

My dog has dry skin and it causes him to become very itchy and uncomfortable. My vet recommended a prescription shampoo that cost (brace yourself!) $21 for an 8 ounce bottle. However, I didn't want my little guy to be uncomfortable, so I bought it for him. Unfortunately it didn't do much good and it also had a medicine-like scent. I started poking around online and found this recipe for dog shampoo by Rebecca Dillon. Total cost for the same 8 ounces was $12, it worked like a charm, and it smelled so much better!

5. Treats

Quite a few commercially-sold pet treat products are made in China and after the contamination issues earlier this year, I started to investigate other options I could make at home. I found a recipe for these bacon bark sticks that are a snap to make and cost only $3 for two dozen tasty treats.

6. Surface Cleaner

Just like humans, pets get sick from time to time. I wanted a cleaner to clean up after my pet that is non-toxic and safe on home surfaces. I could buy a cleaner by Method for $4 per bottle. I found this recipe for a petsafe surface cleaner online that costs less than $1 to make from items I already have in my home and it did the trick!

7. Tummy Remedy

Dogs have very acidic digestive systems. It's a holdover from their wolf ancestors who needed to break down the food they caught in the wild. The build-up of acid overnight caused my pup's tummy to often be upset first thing in the morning. My vet wanted to put him on an antacid medicine that would cost $10 month. While I would have been happy to spend that, I wanted to check out natural remedies that might help. After a little investigation, I discovered that a teaspoon of mashed sweet potato once a day calmed his stomach and eliminated the problem for a grand total of $1.50 per month at my local grocery store. I buy the sweet potatoes, boil them, and mash them myself.

While I love to make DIY items as much as possible, there are some pet Items that I do buy commercially, and you should too. For example, flea and tick medicine are essential to your pet's health and to your home's health as well. Once you have a flea or tick issue in your home, it is very difficult to remedy. While I've tried all-natural flea and tick medicines for my dog, they've never worked that well, so I stick with commercial brands. I also have a professional groomer do his nail clipping and teeth brushing to ensure that they're done properly.

Because you can't put a price on pup beauty.

(Please note that you should never give human medicine to your pet; always consult your veterinarian before giving any medication to your pet.)

Please share your favorite DIY pet products in the comments below!

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Montana's Dad

Christa, you presented some great ideas here. As a long-time dog owner, I've made my own dog treats and shampoos to save money. I do want to point out though, that the tennis ball is a bad idea. For starters, tennis balls are NOT good for dogs- they are a health hazard and should not be used as a chew toy. Even Oprah once lost a dog to choking on a tennis ball.

And economically, it doesn't make sense either. My dog will chew a tennis ball within a few minutes. Three balls last less than three days. Off to the store to buy another can of tennis balls. Yay. Instead, in April of 2012 (based on my Amazon purchase history), I bought a couple of the Chuck-it balls. It is selling for $6.70 for a couple of balls at this moment. I still have both of those balls. That is far LESS than going out and buying cheap tennis balls all the time.

Sometimes it pays to spend a little more just to have a safer, more durable, and long-lasting product. The same applies to Frisbees. DON"T ever buy a plastic Frisbee for the dog. Instead, buy a durable hard-rubber Frisbee and you won't have to buy another Frisbee again.

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May

I had not idea about the sweet potato. I am going to keep that in mind.

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Susan R.

Please don't say "pets" when you mean "dogs." Hint: Cats (gerbils, fish, birds, et al) need love too.