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Vet Tech Rounds: DIY Food Puzzles For Pets

Pet Care Tips 3 min read

Keeping our pets active is extremely important in maintaining their physical health. Activity is not only important for the body, but also for the mind. One way to keep your pet both physically and mentally active is by challenging them with interactive pet toys like ‘food puzzles’.

Why Pet Food Puzzles?

This enrichment can help to increase your pet’s problem-solving skills and can help ease anxiety, boredom, and restlessness.

Food puzzles or puzzle feeders mimic your pet’s natural instinct to hunt and forage for their own food. This type of activity is often referred to as ‘enrichment’, as it stimulates the body and the mind. This enrichment can help to increase your pet’s problem-solving skills and can help ease anxiety, boredom, and restlessness.

Many breeds of dogs are very high energy and require a ‘job’ to help keep them stimulated. Sometimes we aren’t able to provide this stimulation in traditional ways. Factors such as our own physical limitations or poor weather keep us from walking and exercising our pups as we may normally. High energy dogs like huskies, border collies, or Weimaraners will often become destructive or possibly even aggressive if they aren’t provided with sufficient stimulation. Food puzzles and other interactive dog toys are the perfect ‘rainy day’ activities to help avoid this.

Can Food Puzzles Work For Cats?

It can be especially difficult to convince a cat to move around more. Oftentimes, when food is involved, their attention will be caught. Food puzzles are extremely beneficial for cats who have difficulty with obesity, as they increase activity while providing a meal. Keeping a cat’s mind stimulated also helps stem boredom, which can be very stressful for cats. Though they seem to sleep through a lot of the day, in their waking hours they need stimulation to help keep them healthy and stress-free.

Cat food puzzles

Food Puzzles for Sick Pets

If your pet is recovering from surgery, your veterinarian may have advised limited activity. For pets who are normally active, this can be a very stressful time. Food puzzles are a great way to allow your pet to have fun while still remaining fairly quiet and calm while recovering.

DIY Cat and Dog Food Puzzles

There are many types of food puzzles available on the market, but they’re also very simple to make at home.

For cats, it can be as simple as placing their food in an empty egg carton. This will require the use of their paws to scoop the food out, a great start for the beginner food puzzler!

A simple plastic water bottle also makes a great food puzzle. Simply cut holes around the bottle slightly larger than the food or treat you intend to use. Place the treat inside and close up the lid and watch your pet roll the bottle around to allow the kibbles to drop out.

Regular muffin tin with objects, such as tennis balls, covering the openings helps your pet to sniff and forage for a treat.

After challenging your pet with beginner food puzzles, you can start to become more creative. With some creativity, plastic bottles, and used toilet rolls the possibilities are endless!

Vet Tech Rounds: DIY Food Puzzles For Pets

Added Benefits

An added benefit of food puzzles is a slower intake of food. This can help pets who have digestive troubles, as slower intake is much easier on the stomach. Slower eating also encourages a feeling of fullness with less food, which is very beneficial for overweight pets.

NHV’s PetOmega 3 can complement food puzzles by helping to support cognitive health. Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to slow the progression of cognitive dysfunction

NHV Multi Essentials can help to aid digestion, support healthy energy levels, and stimulate metabolism.

If you’d like some ideas for healthy food puzzles for your pet, or if you’d like to share your food puzzle ideas with us, contact our pet experts!

Johanna RVT

Johanna RVT

Johanna is NHV’s in house Registered Veterinary Technician. Technicians are the veterinary equivalent of a human nurse. Johanna has over 10 years of experience in different types of veterinary clinics and hospitals. She has seen and assisted in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions and injuries. She will share her experiences in her monthly blog series “Vet Tech Rounds” to help our extended NHV family learn about common preventable medical cases and other interesting stories of vet clinic life.

Published: February 9, 2019

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