ltThree years ago, after bringing home my new pup, Sage, I asked my holistic vet about safe and long lasting things to give her to chew on while she was home alone. Her number one recommendation, hands down, was a stuffed and frozen Kong.* (For those wondering, raw bones came in a close second.)
Many people think that Kongs are meant to be stuffed with peanut butter and anything else that Kong, itself, manufactures. Not true! First of all, that much peanut butter isn’t good for anybody – including your dog. Can you imagine how much peanut butter it would take to stuff a Kong? Even a small Kong would take at least half a cup! That’s just asking for a tummy ache. Personally, I like almond butter (the Paleo world has influenced me, I suppose!) and my dog, Sage doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, she runs to the kitchen whenever a jar of almond butter is opened! While I don’t recommend stuffing an entire Kong with almond butter, it is a great option to start or finish stuffing a Kong with, as it makes a great seal (so that the gooey ingredients listed below don’t fall out). It’s also a good idea to use your fingers to line a little bit of it inside your Kong – this will really keep your dog busy trying to lick it out!
So, if using jars and jars of nut butters as a stuffer for your dog’s Kong is out, what are you suppose to use? Here’s a quick list of our favorite foods that can easily keep your dog happy and busy when stuffed and frozen in a Kong:
- Organic, Plain Yogurt
- Natural Baby Food
- Fruits such as bananas, apples slices, strawberries, blueberries and watermelon (just remove the seeds first)
- Veggies such as carrots, green beans, cucumber slices, or zucchini
- Pumpkin (canned)
- Leftovers – salmon, chicken, beef, veggies that are going to go bad in your crisper drawer despite your best intentions to eat them yourself, etc
- Broth (low sodium chicken or beef broth is a great choice and makes an excellent teething treat for a puppy)
- Kibble or Canned Dog Food
- Dog Treats
- Don’t Feed it to the Dog Lis!
Above are my suggestions for WHAT to stuff in a Kong. As to HOW to stuff and freeze them – simple! I like to take as many Kongs as I have (usually 3-5), place them in a large Tupperware container so that the large openings are at the top, and start stuffing! The Tupperware will catch any spills (especially if you’re using something “leaky” like broth or yogurt). Place the Tupperware full of Kongs in the freezer and, viola, you’re set for the week!
Where you give your dog its’ Kong may depend on what you stuff it with. Keep in mind that what freezes, must thaw! And while your dog may be lightning fast at emptying out the Kong, chances are you won’t want to give Fido a Kong stuffed with canned pumpkin and plain yogurt on your brand new oriental rug. So, perhaps its crate, a tiled or hardwood floor or the backyard are the perfect places to let your dog go to town.
Really, once you have a Kong, the ingredients are quite inexpensive, especially when you compare the cost to other chews like bully sticks! It’s a great idea to rotate through different kinds of chews, but your dog will love a stuffed and frozen Kong and this is a great opportunity to get creative in the kitchen! Bon Appetit!
* Throughout this article I use the word “Kong” to describe a toy that can be stuffed with treats to keep your dog busy. Kong is a wonderful option but other options exist, like my favorite – SodaPup. It’s made in the USA out of natural rubber that is sustainable, non-toxic and biodegradable. Think of Kong as the Kleenex of dog toys. While Kong makes a great product and has dominated the market for years, there are other great options available.