Recycled Items Make Great DIY Pet Toys

Categories: PHS Blog

By Jacqui Dziak

Whenever I go to HomeGoods, I can’t resist bringing home a cute stuffed toy for my Golden Retriever. She thanks me by ripping out every ounce of stuffing in under 5 minutes. If I spend $5 on the toy, it costs $1 a minute for her enjoyment- not a great ROI. Instead of breaking the bank to entertain your dog, cat or critter, consider tapping into your creative side by making your beloved pet a toy using things you probably already have around your home.

Old T-shirts and towels are something we all have. While not all can become rags, they can be handy to create a pet toy! One simple idea is to cut an old t-shirt in strips, leaving the neck intact. Simply braid the strips to create a dog rope toy. Fido will love carrying it, tossing it in the air and possibly playing a friendly game of tug-of-war with you. The old towels can be donated to the Pasadena Humane Society- we are always in need of towels.

On the rare occasion where you have to buy water in a plastic bottle because you left your CamelBak or Hydroflask at home, you can recycle it into a dog toy! Simply take one of the stray socks that lost its mate in the laundry and pull it over the plastic bottle. Tie the end in a knot (if possible) and voila! Your pup will love to hear the crunch of the plastic bottle as he plays with his new toy.

Your kitty can also benefit from the unmated stray sock. This is also a double recycle toy because you can use the brown packing paper that comes in your Amazon delivery. Stuff the stray sock with the paper, knot the end of the sock to create a small ball that your kitty can bat around. If you want to make the toy more interesting, sneak some cat nip into the sock.

When your dog’s tennis ball has been loved well and is soaked with slobber, you can wrap the ball in one of those old t-shirts and twist it tight around the ball. Cut strips on the hanging fabric and braid tightly. Now you have created a new toy from an old ball.

If you have kids at home, you are probably still buying and drinking a lot of milk. When the plastic gallon of milk is empty, rinse it out and toss it to your dog. That’s it! You will want to keep a careful eye if your pup is a chewer. You definitely don’t want him to get chunks of plastic in his belly. Better yet, if he is a chewer, skip this DIY toy.


Speaking of kids, when they are off to college and done playing rock band, you can re-purpose the drum sticks as a cat toy. Actually, you can use any stick if you don’t have rock band. Tie something fun around the stick that kitty will want to bat. If you are feeling super creative, consider creating feathers from felt strips. Tie the string onto the felt feathers (maybe add a bell) and tie the other end of the string onto the stick. You and your kitty will share hours of fun together.

Now every house has empty toilet paper rolls. Our rabbits love it when we stuff the paper rolls with a little timothy hay and let them chew away. Rabbits need to chew constantly because their teeth grow continuously. The act of chewing keeps their teeth trimmed and boredom at bay. A stuffed toilet paper roll with timothy hay does the trick.

Here is another simple DIY toy using an old box. Cut the flaps off one side of the cardboard box. Flip over and cut an entrance hole and you have created a fun house for your rabbit to hide in and chew on. Make sure the box doesn’t have any glue or staples or anything that can harm your rabbit. Again, this is an awesome recycling option and offers a benefit for your bun.


As hard as it is to believe with the heat, autumn is around the corner, which means possibly a trip to an apple farm or a visit back east. Rabbits love to chew on dried pine cones or branches from untreated apple trees. Don’t forget to look down as you walk amid the apple trees.

With a little imagination and creativity, toys are easy to make (or find), and it isn’t necessary to spend a lot to offer enrichment. Toys are needed to keep our pets mentally stimulated, happy, healthy, and free from boredom. For more DIY toy ideas for your pet, or if you feel inspired to make toys for our PHS residents, please click here for more ideas.