50 Life Hacks for Dog Owners That Are Safe and Easy

There are so many dog DIYs out there, but they're not all trustworthy and let's face it – they don't all work. These DIYs and tricks, collected from pet bloggers around the web and the Homes Alive team, are both simple and safe for dogs. I truly believe that you will find many dog life hacks in this list that will enhance your time with your dog, without putting your dog at risk or requiring many hours spent on a homemade project.

Here are 50 Easy, Safe Life Hacks for Dogs:

Food and Nutrition

1. Not enough time for making your dog's food? Make a kibble-topper treat for extra vitamins and fibre.

This addition to your dog's food is packed with vitamins, anti-oxidants, and rich in fibre. While this mix is great all the time, keep some in the freezer for when your dog is having tummy troubles. Pumpkin and other squash helps cure dog diarrhea and loose stool, and oddly enough, constipation. If you don't have time to bake your own, use plain, canned pumpkin with no added sugar or spices (not pumpkin pie filling) for almost identical results. Source: Kol's Notes

2. Freeze these simple ingredients for a quick, cool treat for your pup.

Pupsicles

Photo credit: www.gotidbits.com

There's nothing better than an ice-cold treat on a hot day! Whether it's yogourt, low-sodium chicken broth, crushed kibble, pureed vegetables or fruits, or peanut butter, these simple ingredients make treats that are easy, cool, and healthy for your dog. Simply freeze inside stuffable Kong toys, ice cube trays, or make popsicles or snow cones out of them. Source: OSPCA.

3. Get your dog to drink more with these tricks.

Is your dog drinking enough? Most dogs who are fed a dry kibble diet aren't. To get your dog to drink more, feed from a filtered pet fountain. Most dogs love the fresh, cool, running water. Alternatively, use low-sodium chicken broth or a mint-flavoured breath freshener for dogs to encourage your dog to drink – most dogs love the taste! Try feeding your dog ice cubes, particularly in the summer, for a cool, hydrating treat.

4. Buy dog food in bigger bags and store in a chest freezer.

You can often save money on pet supplies by going with a bigger bag. The food will stay fresh longer in the freezer, but make sure you double bag it. You don't want smells to get into your dog's food from your freezer (or the opposite). To keep it tasting great, I would make sure you use frozen kibble within 6 months.

5. For a powerful nutritional treat, try making homemade bone broth for your dog.

Homemade Bone Broth

Aside from being tasty, homemade bone broth is a healthy mix of amino acids, vitamins and minerals, originally used to treat digestive issues and joint problems. Make your very own bone broth with raw (or cooked) bones, a little bit of apple cider vinegar, and a stock pot. Don't substitute with store-bought, it is cooked very quickly at an extreme temperature, and many natural nutrients are lost. Source: K9 Instinct.

Health Care

6. Use Pepto Bismol for your dog's upset stomach.

Vet approved, you can use pepto bismol to aid your dog's upset stomach. Make sure to give your dog an appropriate dose based on body weight (1 tsp per 5lb every 6 hours, 3-4 TBSP for a 65 lb dog every 6 hrs). NEVER use on cats, as Pepto Bismol is toxic to cats. Alternatively, you can also use a weight-appropriate dose of Immodium for diarrhea relief. Source: Canada's Guide to Dogs.

7. Use Pedialyte to restore your dog's electrolytes after vomiting and diarrhea.

Pedialyte for Dogs

Dogs lose vital sodium, vitamins, and water when they are vomiting or have diarrhea. Use unflavoured Pedialyte or an electrolyte replacement. It's best to use unflavoured, and avoid any electrolyte replacement fluid that contains xylitol, which is a toxic food for dogs. Source: Martha Stewart

8. Use aspirin as a temporary pet-safe pain reliever.

Make sure you dose according to your pet's weight. NEVER give your pet ibuprofen (Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol), as these are toxic to your dog's liver.

9. Make a DIY dog ramp for seniors or arthritic dogs.

DIY Dog Ramp

Do you have an old or injured dog? Or a dog with arthritis pain? Or maybe just a dog who is vertically challenged? This easy DIY dog ramp can be constructed in minutes with a few simple materials and basic construction skills. Source: Kol's Notes.

10. If your dog gets into something he shouldn't, use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting.

1 teaspoon per 5 pounds of body weight is all you need if your dog gets into a dangerous human food, such as chocolate or nuts. 

11. Keep tea tree oil around to treat your dog's minor cuts and wounds.

Tea tree oil is a natural antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, and has antiseptic properties. It's also a natural flea and tick deterrant. 

12. Use an elevated pet bowl to ease stress on joints of arthritic dogs.

DIY Elevated Pet Bowl

Elevated pet bowls can decrease gas and promote good digestion. Or, if you are crafty, use a jigsaw to make a bowl sized hole in a wooden stool for a DIY version. Source: Crafted Niche.

13. Keep a pet first aid kit handy at home.

Some things to include are: gauze, bandages, medical tape, an antiseptic spray or tea tree oil, aspirin, hydrogen peroxide, pepto bismol, mineral oil (for constipation), veterinary information, and emergency water and non-perishable food are just some suggestions. Keep one at home and one in the car so that you are prepared if something happens when you're traveling. Source: Dawg Business.

14. Make a DIY heating pack out of rice and an old sock for your dog.

Great for soothing injured limbs and sore joints from arthritis! Use a few drops of essential oils for aromatherapy, too. Just don't leave your dog alone with it. You don't want your dog ingesting dry rice, which expands in his tummy. Source: Modern Dog Magazine.

15. Have pet allergies? It doesn't mean you can't have pets or you must suffer with your symptoms.

Allerpet for Dogs

Use Allerpet. It's a topical solution you rub onto your pet's coat to help eliminate allergens. It cleans your dog's hair of dander, saliva, and sebaceous gland secretions, the antigens considered to be the prime causes of allergic reactions to dogs.

Diet and Exercise

16. Too cold to walk outside with your dog? Try the treadmill!

There ARE doggy treadmills out there, but your human-sized one can do just fine for your dog, too. Start off slow and work up to a faster pace. Perfect for those days where the weather just doesn't permit going outside. Source: Fifth Avenue Vet Clinic

17. Get a lazy dog moving by putting small treats or kibble into a treat ball or dispenser.

Treat-dispensing toys, like JW dog toys, are too much to resist for even seasoned couch potatoes. Alternatively, you can cut a small slit in a rubber ball and add treats to that.

18. Use a quick rib test to tell if your pet is overweight.

You should be able to clearly feel your dog's ribs when you run your hand lightly over their chest - it's one of the simple tests to tell if your pet is overweight. If you can't feel your dog's ribs easily, he's likely overweight. In most breeds, the ribs shouldn't be visible when you are just looking at your dog, or your dog could be underweight. 

19. Use these tricks to slow down meal times for your dog.

You may have heard of the tennis-ball-in-the-dog-food-bowl trick, but a hockey puck, being heavier and differently shaped, works more effectively. You'll also feel more Canadian. For even better results, use a specially-designed slow feed bowl for reliably slower meal times. The ridges in these bowls make it impossible for your dog to gulp, and you don't have to worry about your dog knocking the ball or puck out of the bowl. These bowls help dogs slow down to eat, which means less gulping, gas, and better digestion. This tactic can even promote weight loss!

20. If you're out of treats, try using just regular kibble in your dog's treat bag.

Even the same old kibble feels special when it's given as a treat. This works in a pinch when you're out of treats, and also can be an effective tool for overweight dogs or those on limited ingredient diets.

Cleaning

21. To help rid your laundry of pet hair, follow these steps.

Wool Laundry Balls

Image Credit: Norwex

Before cleaning items in the washer, put clothing or fabrics in the dryer for 10 minutes on a no-heat cycle. Remember to empty your lint catcher! Shake out laundry and add it to the washer with 1/2 cup of vinegar to loosen fabric and release hair. Shake out laundry again and add it to the dryer. Always use dryer sheets or balls to reduce static cling, and, you guessed it – pet hair. Source: CleanMySpace.com.

22. Use rubber “boots” for dogs to keep your floors clean in rainy weather.

Many dog owners don't like boots, but PawZ dog boots are like rubber balloons that slip over your dogs' feet. Most dogs don't even know they are wearing boots! They are easy to take on and off and are even disposable if they get really dirty.

23. Place a screen over your drain when bathing your dog to avoid drain clogs.

You may underestimate the amount of hair that your dog can shed while bathing. Don't let all that hair get into your drain – it can cause a formidable clog. Use a screen over your drain to catch shed hair. Source: SnowDog Guru.

Training

24. To teach your dog anything, teach it as a trick!

Teaching your dog to sit still for her harness or her bath can be much easier if you treat it like showing her a new trick. Use treats to get your dog to follow steps and sit still by offering rewards for correct action. Everything's more fun as a game (and with food involved): wouldn't you agree? Source: Dawg Business.

25. If you want to bell train your dog, hang the bells beside your door, not on your door.

When you take your dog out to do his business, ring the bells. He will associate ringing the bells with going outside to pee or poo. If you hang the bells on the door, they will ring every time you open it, not specifically when you take your dog out to pee. Your dog will learn faster if the bells are beside the door!

26. Instead of a click trainer for your dog, use a squeaker!

 Squeaker

Unlike a clicker, a squeaker is more likely to get your dog's attention, no matter what he's distracted with. Use the squeak-and-treat method in place of a click trainer, and you'll have your dog trained in no time. Source: SnowDog Guru.

Treats and Toys

27. Stylish, durable rolling bin for dog toy storage that matches your decor. 

Need a stylish alternative to plastic toy bins for your dog? This dog toy bin DIY from Kol's Notes is not only functional for large, boisterous dogs, but it looks decorative, too. 

28. To get your dog interested in a bone or toy he doesn't play with, smear a little bit of peanut butter on it.

Every toy is your dog's favourite when it's a vessel for peanut butter delivery.

29. Make some DIY puzzle feeders to help your dog stave off winter boredom.

Games and food are two of a dog's favourite things. To keep your dog entertained when the weather outside is looking frightful, create a simple DIY puzzle feeder using plastic cups, a shallow plastic tote, and treats or kibble. Place the plastic cups, with treats hidden inside or underneath, in the plastic tote either face-down or right side up. Let your dog go at it! This one's an easy one, but try a few more on The Dane Dame's site for more bad weather challenges.

30. Have some leftover Himalayan Dog Chews? Don't let them go to waste!

Himalayan Dog Chews

Has your dog ever tried Himalayan Dog Chews? This natural, long lasting dog chew is full of healthy protein and is a hard chew for even the toughest of chewers. But, as with many chews, it will reach a point where it is too small to safely feed to your dog. When a Himalayan dog chew (also called yak cheese) gets too small, simply pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds for a puffy, cheesy treat your dog will love! Source: Himalayan Dog Chew.

31. Keep your dog's breath fresh with charcoal biscuits.

Charcoal dog biscuits can help to neutralize odous in your pet's mouth. It works in a similar way to the activated charcoal in water and air filters. Charcoal naturally absorbs the impurities that cause odour.

32. For a teething puppy, soak a canvas toy in low-sodium beef or chicken broth and freeze it.

Your puppy will love the taste and the soothing feel on her gums!  

Grooming and Dental Care

33. Use a humidifier to help restore your dog's dry skin and reduce shedding.

Did you know that dry, flaky skin can exacerbate shedding in your dog? While topical skin conditioners and adding oils to your dog's diet are very helpful, you can also use a humidifier directly to the air to help your pet's skin stay moisturized. It'll help prevent your skin from drying out, too.

34. Can't brush your dog's teeth? Start with rewarded muzzle touches.

Give your dog a treat, along with plenty of reassuring pats, every time you touch his muzzle. Your dog might not even like this! It can take a lot of trust for your dog to let you touch his muzzle, which is a very vulnerable part of him. You can slowly move to his mouth, then teeth, and then you can add some canine toothpaste, using just your finger. Eventually, your dog will come around to the toothbrush, too, or alternatively, you can use a finger toothbrush, which works just as well and that some dogs respond to better.

35. For easier nail clipping, try clipping your dog's nails after bath.

The nails will be softer and easier to clip. Also, use a nail file afterward so that your dog's nails don't catch on everything.

36. For a quick DIY trick to stop nail bleeding, use a bit of corn starch or flour.

If you are clipping your dog's nails, there's a good chance you will accidentally hit the quick from time to time, causing your dog to bleed. While not as effective as styptic powder for clotting blood, corn starch or flour does work in a pinch.

37. Want to banish dog breath? Use probiotics!

Evorapet Dog Oral Probiotics

Oral probiotics, placed directly on your pet's food, can help reduce the bacteria in your dog's mouth that causes bad breath and poor dental health. Try Evorapet Probiotic Oral Care

38. Use olive oil to clean your dog's ears naturally.

A few drops of warm olive oil on a cotton ball gently massaged into your dog's ear can clean your dog's ear and remove excess wax. Never use a Q-Tip, as this can damage the ear canal and push wax and debris further into the ear.

Anxiety and Stress Relief

39. If your dog has separation anxiety, give him an old blanket of yours or an old piece of unwashed clothing when you leave.

Your scent on the fabric can help to keep your pet calm. If you don't have an unwashed item, just put the blanket or clothes in your dirty laundry basket for a few days. Your dog will love it!

40. Play a radio in your dog's kennel while you're gone to help relieve separation anxiety.

While it's no substitute for human interaction, a radio playing softly can help to ease stress for a lonely dog. The monotonous sound can lull an anxious puppy to sleep at night or in the day while you're gone.

Accessories and Apparel

41. Use the two finger rule for checking if your dog's collar is the right size.

Properly Sized Collar

Your dog's collar is the right size if you can fit no more than 2 fingers between the collar and your dog's neck while it's on. You want the collar to be loose enough not to choke her, but tight enough that it can't slip over your dog's head easily.

42. If your dog won't wear boots, try placing one boot on a front paw and one on a back paw and placing your dog outside.

Your dog will be able to feel the difference and may just tolerate boots a little bit more.

Outdoors and Travel

43. Use Dog Rocks to keep your lawn free of yellow spots.

Dog Rocks

Female dogs are notorious for leaving ugly yellow patches on their owners' lawns. But the solution is really simple. Neutralize the impurities that are found in your dog's water with igneous basalt, the active ingredient in Dog Rocks, to prevent lawn spots.

44. Create a digging area in your backyard to deter your dog from digging up the garden.

Some dogs just love to dig. Rather than getting upset at your dog for doing what he loves to do naturally, why not set up a place in the backyard where he can dig? Have fun with it and bury a few favourite toys there. What a fun summer activity for your dog that doesn't harm your flowers or vegetables.

45. Apply coconut oil to your pet's paws as a natural paw balm.

Coconut Oil for Dogs

Coconut oil will act as a barrier in winter weather, keeping road salt, chemicals, and ice from irritating your pet's paws while going for winter walks. Another bonus? Coconut oil also keeps your pet's paws from drying out and cracking in the winter dryness.

46. Make a vacation tag for your dog for his safety while traveling.

Going away on vacation with your pet? Make a vacation dog ID tag with a temporary address and updated contact information to use while you are away.

47. Keep hair between your dog's toes clipped to keep snow and ice from collecting while walking in winter.

Dog Paw Print in Snow

Your dog won't have painful ice balls forming, which can make winter walking difficult, cause painful paw cracks and splits, and make your dog's paws feel colder, faster. Source: Skijor OxfordDogs.

48. For a pet safe way to keep dogs and cats out of your garden, use citrus peels.

Coffee or bloodmeal work, too. The strong scents are offensive to most sensitive pet noses, but are not toxic or harmful as other DIY garden repellents can be.

49. Traveling with a dog? Go to Petfriendly.ca to find a dog-friendly hotel near your destination.

Find a pet-friendly accomodation on petfriendly.ca so that you can travel comfortably with your dog. Also, check out the pet travel checklist on their site so that you don't forget anything important.

50. Dealing with lawn burn from dogs? Water is the key!

Dog Lawn Burn

If you have yellow spots on your lawn from where your dog has peed, water them liberally. Since lawn burn is caused by a large concentration of metals and minerals in your dog's urine, you can clear them up by diluting the yellow spots with water.