Stuffing a toy like a Kong or something similar can be a great way to keep your dog occupied for hours. While there are many reasons that veterinarians discourage practices like free feeding and mindless snacking, offering your dog a stuffed Kong filled with something delicious can be mentally and physically stimulating.
If you need something to occupy your dog while you focus on another task or you want to redirect some of your dog’s problematic behaviors (like chewing furniture) to something more productive, consider a stuffed Kong or enrichment toy.
These toys are designed to release the food more slowly and give your dog a chance to work for the reward of a tasty treat. Not sure what to stuff in your pup’s toy? We rounded up a few ideas that can be healthy as well as tasty.
To make the fun last longer, consider freezing your pup’s stuffed Kong for a few hours (or overnight) before offering it.
Healthy foods to stuff in your dog’s Kong
While peanut butter might not be the healthiest choice on this list, it will certainly get your pup’s attention. Choose a natural variety of peanut butter with no added oils or sugars. Make sure to also avoid low fat or reduced calorie peanut butters made with Xylitol – this artificial sweetener is toxic to dogs.
Plain yogurt with no added sugar is another great choice for stuffing into a Kong. Regular or greek plain yogurt will be your best bet as these have the least amout of added sugars. Fruit flavored yogurts sometimes have as much added sugar as a small candy bar – making these a less than ideal choice for your pup. If your dog doesn’t enjoy plain yougurt, add some fresh fruit, pumpkin or peanut butter to the mix.
Cream cheese is another good option for dogs who tolerate a little dairy in their diet. You can actually use it to “frost” the inside of the kong or toy so that other treats stick to it. If you’re looking for something fun for this purpose that isn’t high in calories try Wet Noses Little Star treats. They’re very small so you can stuff a bunch in the cream cheese and your dog will think they’ve hit a jackpot!
While you’ll need to throw this one in the freezer first, you can use bone broth to stuff your dog’s Kong or toy. For extra enrichment chop up some dog friendly fruit or vegetables to add to the mix. This might include carrots, apples or even some leftover steamed veggies.
Berries are a healthy and delicious treat that you can add to your stuffing mix. Use yogurt or cream cheese as the base to hold them in the Kong so your dog can’t just shake them loose in 5 minutes! Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are all fair game, so you can use whatever is in season or looks best!
Raw or cooked carrots are a hit with many pups. So you can use them when stuffing a Kong too. You can use longer sticks that your dog will have to remove and crunch or chopped pieces in bone broth or cheese. If you have leftover cooked carrots that aren’t heavily seasoned or covered in butter, you can use those too – its a great way to make sure your leftovers are used up.
If you have leftover pumpkins from your fall holidays, you can roast them and puree them for a delicious dog treat! Canned pumpkin also works well for this purpose, just make sure it is not pie filling, since that will have extra sugar and spices your dog doesn’t need. You can even mix the puree with yogurt or cream cheese and some cinnamon for a pumpkin pie your pup can enjoy. This is another treat that would work well frozen!
Apples are packed with healthy fiber and a satisying crunch making them ideal to put in your pup’s Kong to dig out and crunch! Mixing apples with yogurt and cinnamon cam make a great apple pie-like fall treat, especially if you crush in some biscuits to act like a “crust”.
While it may not be the best smelling treat on this list, liver is a tasty and healthy option for your pup. Organ meat is loaded with vitamins and minerals, making it a great treat for your dog. You can just stuff in some liver or mix it with pumpkin or another treat on this list to make a layered treat.
You can stuff your dog’s Kong or toy with their favorite flavor of Ollie. If you have guests for mealtime and you want to keep your dog away from the buffet, this is a great way to make mealtime last longer. For a more indulgent treat add fresh fruit and veggies like carrots, green beans or blueberries to give the Ollie some texture.
A note on food safety
When stuffing your dog’s Kong or slow feeder toy with food, remember to clean it regularly to avoid bacteria buildup or foodborne illnesses. Check the instructions on the toy to learn how to clean it properly without destroying the toy. Many of these toys are dishwasher safe for easy clean up.