Using Nutrition for Canine Enrichment

Using Nutrition for Canine Enrichment

One of the great ways to help your dog stay in shape is through the use of enrichment toys! Enrichment toys can be used to work both your dog's mental and physical strengths and allow for a fun and creative outlet, not to mention a great way to bond with your furry friend. When picking out enrichment toys, it is important to keep in mind the size of your dog to ensure you are choosing the right fit. It is important to also keep in mind that calories from treats count towards your pet's daily calorie goal. Contact us if you have any questions about choosing the right options. We picked out a few enrichment toys that we recommend to our canine patients.

Snuffle Mats 

These are a great option for mental stimulation and allowing your pet to use their nose. Dogs have over 300 million sense receptors in their nose, and allowing them to sniff out their treats allows them to "hunt" and learn more about their environment. Snuffle mats can be homemade or purchased and tend to cost between $20 and $40. Remember that your dog should always be monitored while using the mat to ensure that they are not consuming any pieces of the mat. You can purchase a snuffle mat from Amazon or Ruffle Snuffle Mats. Below is a video on how to create your very own snuffle mat. 

Puzzle Bowls & Toys

Puzzles are a great way to work your dog's brain and can involve physical stimulation. Puzzle toys come in many different shapes and sizes such as balls, bowls, muffin tins, kongs, etc. The options are endless! You can encourage your dog to have fun working for their dinner by pushing around a puzzle ball filled with their favorite kibble, encouraging movement and mental stimulation. Some puzzles require your dog to figure out which buttons to push to dispense food or treats. Kibble can also be soaked, loaded into the puzzle toy, and then placed in the freezer for longer-lasting fun. Puzzle bowls can also aid in supporting healthy digestion as they slow down quick eaters. Some of our favorite puzzle toys can be found on Outward Hound, Brightkins, or even on Amazon. Here is one of our favorite puzzle balls, on Amazon.

D.I.Y Puzzle Bowls & Toys

Canine DIY Enrichment from the ASPCA

You may even be able to create your puzzle toy at home with household items! Fill a muffin tin with treats or kibble, adding water, and place in the freezer (you can replace the water and add peanut butter if you'd like). If you want to, you can replace the kibble and treats with fresh fruits or vegetables like blueberries, apples (seeds and core removed), bananas and strawberries (in moderation), broccoli, carrots, celery, and even green beans. Next, add after to the tines and 3/4 of the way full. Lastly, freeze the tray overnight and then offer it to your pup the next day. Make sure you supervise while they enjoy! The other option would be to take your muffin tin and put a few pieces of treats, kibble, or one of the above-mentioned fruits and veggies, in the bottom. Cover the treats with a tennis ball or other ball of a similar size. Your dog will have to use their skills to move the ball to get the treats. Our last D.I.Y idea is to take your dog on a "Sniffari". Our furry friends learn so much about their environment from their noses, so a great way to get them moving and using their brains is to allow them to sniff. Sniffing in a new environment allows your dog to take the lead and explore these new areas. Bring high-valued treats with you and hide them along the way, then encourage your dog to sniff out the treats. This is also a great bonding activity.