Free and nearly-free pet supplies
Fournitures pour animaux libres et presque libre
Pet supplies are all around you, often hiding in the shape of everyday items. Did you know you can transform items you no longer need or reuse items into useful, cost-effective pet supplies? You save a trip to the recycling bin and some cold cash, and your pet gets some great new gear.
Why not spoil your pet with some of these new-to-them accessories while you come up with other great ideas of your own?
(Just remember to clean your items thoroughly before you pass them along, and ensure there are no sharp edges or other parts that might harm your pet!)
Ceramic bowl or saucer
Steel mixing bowl
A large coffee can or Tupperware container with its plastic lid is a great place to store dry pet food. This helps keep it fresh and away from mice and other unwanted visitors.
Cotton socks make great, dust free bedding for hamsters and guinea pigs
Sew 12 inches of cord or ribbon to each corner of a pillow case or hand towel to make a sling you can tie in an upper corner of your cat/hamster/ferret's cage.
End table and a blanket — Many dogs appreciate a quiet corner of their own to relax. Find a safe, quiet place in the house to set up an end table. Drape a dark blanket over the table to cover three sides of it to create a "den". A blanket or pillow inside makes it even more inviting.
A dresser drawer — can be a welcome place to sleep for cats or a small dog, especially when lined with a towel
Baby shampoo is a good alternative to commercial pet shampoos
Lavender oil / flowers are a natural pest repellant. A drop or two on your pet's coat, bedding, & surroundings help keep fleas away without the risk of poisoning. They have the added bonus of helping cover pet smells without the harsh smell of other cleaners.
Place an old bath towel or bath mat in the bottom of your bathtub when washing your pet. This provides valuable traction for your dog, making him feel more secure.
1/2-inch strips of newspaper are a dust-free alternative to cat litter
1 - 2 - Smell free! Hydrogen peroxide is often less expensive than bleach, comes in a much smaller container, can be mixed with water like bleach for cleaning and doesn't irritate your pet's nose and lungs as bleach does Use a straight 3-per cent solution, as found at your local drugstore, for cleaning work surfaces. Or mix one part hydrogen peroxide with two parts water to clean your bathroom and kitchen.
Sunshine is a great freshener and disinfectant. Hang your pet's blankets, jackets and other material items out on a warm sunny day to air them out and kill odour-producing bacteria.
Boiling water is a proven safe, chemical-free solution to many household chores.
Pour hot water on weeds you want to kill in your driveway and garden instead of using a weed killer.
Is your drain or toilet blocked? A plumber's trick of the trade is to pour three large buckets of the hottest water they can find down the drain to clear the obstacle.
Removing fur from clothing and furniture
A damp sponge can help remove pet hair from furniture and clothing
Same thing for an inflated latex balloon (it's the static electricity that does the trick)
A rubber kitchen glove with its textured grip will remove pet hair from furniture and clothing
Wind Scotch tape around your palm, sticky side out, for an instant lint brush for clothing and furniture
Cleaning pet stains from carpet
Clean up the mess as soon as possible. Soak up excess urine with a white rag or paper towels.
Try these methods for simple stains. Consult a professional carpet cleaner if you have questions on your specific carpet.
Blot a solution of 1/4 tsp mild liquid laundry detergent and 1 cup (8oz/250ml) of warm water on the spot. Repeat until there is no more stain transferring from the carpet to the rag or paper towel.
Dab stain with a mixture of 2 tbsp. ammonia and 1 cup (8oz/250ml) water. Rinse with warm water. Repeat and dry with a white rag until no further stain can be seen on the carpet or rag.
Dab the area with 1 cup (8oz/250ml) white vinegar and 2 cups (16oz/500ml) water. Rinse.
Cover the spot with several layers of paper towels or white cloth weighted down with a heavy, non-fading item. Change out the paper towel or cloth until carpet is dry.
Two laundry baskets, one tied upside down on the other, make a great temporary cat carrier for a trip to the vet, etc. An added bonus is you don't have to find a place to store a bulky pet carrier between uses.
A 1/4-inch wide belt wound around your large cat's front legs and over her shoulders in a figure 8 pattern can be a convenient and comfortable cat harness.
Children's unwanted stuffed toys (be careful about hard plastic pieces such as eyes and noses the pet may chew and possibly choke on)
Basketballs/soccer balls that won't inflate properly — toys a dog cannot hold entirely in his or her mouth are safest as they help avoid choking
Small dogs will often enjoy running through a tube made from a large coffee can with a denim tube attached to one end
Best to avoid:
Shoes or socks — While you may know you are finished with that pair of footwear, your dog will not be able to tell the difference between the pair you give him and the good shoes and boots in your closet. The same goes for socks.
Paper tube — paper towel, toilet paper, etc.
A crumpled piece of paper
A feather on a string
Carpet scraps, a corrugated cardboard box or a section of 2x4 lumber make great scratching posts. See which your pet likes best!
Cats enjoy watching the world from high points. Can you provide a roost at the top of a cupboard or a board as a "catwalk" for them to travel along?
Whole or sliced carrots - many dogs like these crunchy treats but they can be messy. Serve them to your pet in the kitchen or outdoors where the resulting bits can be easily cleaned up.
Ice cubes are a wonderful treat during hot weather. Give your dog a couple to chew on or put them in his water bowl to give him a cool drink.
Feed your horse his hay at ground level on a clean surface when possible.
Set your horse's feed and water buckets in a rubber car tire in your horse's paddock to keep them upright. This helps prevent spilling and waste.
A retired metal bathtub can become a water trough in your horse's pasture. Just be sure to cover any sharp corners or edges to prevent injuries and to place it where you can monitor it regularly so the water remains clean and free flowing.
With a little ingenuity and time, you can make many basic horse care items for a fraction of retail cost:
A retired sleeping bag can become a horse blanket
A king sized bed sheet can enjoy a second life as a fly sheet
Small caged pets
Clean cotton socks make great bedding for hamsters and other small pets. They are comfortable to nestle in, and don't irritate the pet's breathing like shavings can.
* Tag that wag!
Invest a couple of dollars in a pet ID tag with your name and telephone number (or make your own!) to attach to your pet's collar. Or write your last name and phone number on your pet's collar with permanent ink. Industry statistics show cats and dogs with no identification stand less than a five per cent chance of returning home safely if they get loose and go wandering. However, an average 40 per cent of dogs with identification make it home safely. A neighbour or passerby is more likely to help your pet find its way home if your contact information is easily found on your animal. It's a small investment with a huge return!
Create pet-friendly areas. Decide which rooms you will allow your pet to roam. Protect your valuables by keeping fragile or dangerous items out of your pets' reach. Close doors or use baby gates to separate these from areas you want your pet to stay out of. Workshops and craft roomsare should be off limits with their risk of dangerous tools and materials.