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Ways to a Happy, Healthier Pet

A work-out, a mind-game and a snack all in one! Food puzzles provide physical and mental stimulation while your pet enjoys their own kibble. A food puzzle is a toy that has compartments or has openings to dispense food while the animal plays. In the past, these have been used as treats and filled with high calorie or fatty foods, but are now being utilized to dispense your pet’s regular food. There are a wide variety of food puzzles for cats and dogs, all ranging in difficulty.

The predecessors to our domestic pets hunt and forage for food. Think of wild cats and dogs that need to search diligently for food, strategize to hunt, or run to catch prey. In the past, cats and dogs earned meals by mousing, herding or doing jobs. Today, we have achieved such a level of domestication in our pets that they rarely have to do much work for food. Food puzzles help reintroduce the concept of expending energy and stimulating the mind for a meal. These puzzles motivate pets to play independently when they are bored and may reduce destructive behaviours. For those pets that might need to lose weight or that eat too quickly, try food puzzles instead of food bowls to slowly dispense kibbles. When starting out with food puzzles, find a type that is similar to other toys your pet likes and is relatively easy. Keep in mind your pet’s “prey preference”. For cats, they may like their toys to be fast, flighty, shiny, or feathery, while dogs may like something to chew, lick, roll, paw or chase. Always supervise closely when introducing a new toy, including food puzzles. Remember, some pets may never be allowed to play with toys (including food puzzles) unsupervised if they have the tendency to destroy and swallow pieces. First impressions are everything, so try to make the toy as fun and exciting as possible- using treats to fill the food puzzle in the initial introduction is okay. Use food that will easily dispense from the food puzzle to prevent your pet from getting discouraged and quitting. You may need to play with your pet and the food puzzle for several sessions until they begin to understand how it works and can play more independently. Once your pet is a food puzzle pro, it is wise to have a couple food puzzles in rotation or try a toy that is more difficult to keep things fresh and interesting.

The list of food puzzles below will help you get started. Have a look at the websites and reviews online to help decide which puzzle your furry friend would like best. Order online or call your local pet specialty store for stock.

List of Dog Food Puzzles

  • Aikiou Interactive Dog Bowl • Atomic Treat Ball
  • Buster “Food Cube” and “Dog Maze”
  • Busy Buddy “Tug-a-Jug” and “Twist ‘n Treat”
  • Dog Brick (many Nina-Ottosson products)
  • Ethical Contempo “Tessa”, “Bravo” and “Halo”
  • JW “Hol-ee” Treat Ball
  • Kong “Classic”, “Goodie Bone” and “Satellite”
  • Kong Genius “Mike” and “Leo”
  • Northmate “Green”
  • Orbee Tuff “Strawberry” and “Artichoke”
  • OurPet’s IQ Treat Ball
  • Planet Dog Mazee
  • Starmark “Pickle Pocket” and “Bob-a-Lot”
  • Treat Stik
  • Tricky Treat Ball
  • Trixie Snack Spinner
  • Tux Treat Toy

List of Cat Food Puzzles

  • Aikiou “Stimulo” Cat feeding Station
  • Catit Design Senses feeding maze
  • Fun Kitty “Twist ‘n treat” and “Egg-cersizer”
  • Kong “Wobbler” and “Cone”
  • MixMax (many Nina-Ottosson products)
  • Northmate “Catch”
  • Slim Cat


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