Did you know that how you feed your dog is almost as important as what you feed your dog?
Whilst serving a meal on a silver platter (or bowl) might be appropriate for sick, elderly and/or fussy dogs; the vast majority of dogs could do well to be eating from a puzzle feeder (sometimes known as an occupier).
The benefits of feeding from an apparatus that is designed to dispense food slowly (and make the dog work for food) are abundantly clear. First and foremost, puzzle feeders help to provide the often overlooked mental stimulation that dogs require on a daily basis in order to feel satisfied. Puzzle feeders also help to protect against serious conditions such as bloat, often caused by gulping/scoffing food. Not least of all, some puzzle feeders actually help to clean dogs' teeth, which is fast becoming recognised as a standard requirement of care by Vets worldwide.
Over the years our hungry hounds have put stacks of gear to the test, and come out with a definitive TOP 5 list of dog bowls that we recommend you use to feed your dog.
1. Outward Hound Fun Feeder (approx $40)
These are our absolute favourite bowls and personal choice when feeding our own dogs. It's important to note we've listed the bowl and not the mat made by the same brand. Whilst the mat might be appropriate for smaller dogs, our big hungry beasts require the durability of the fun feeder bowl. We love that these come in an assortment of colours and shapes - we have a few and mix them up! These are appropriate for most diets including raw; we have stuffed meat and veggies into the small crevices of the maze and the dogs just love licking it out!
2. Kong Wobbler (approx $45)
The Kong Wobbler is a genius invention and a must-have for kibble-feeders. The bottom of the Kong Wobbler is weighted so the toy bobs around as dogs push and paw at it, slowly dispensing biscuits from the small opening. This feeder is also extremely heavy duty; ours has been mercilessly thrashed around and still works perfectly, with no cracks at all. One tip before purchasing a Kong Wobbler: check the size of the opening to make sure your dog's kibble can fit through!
3. Dogit Go Slow Anti-Gulping Dog Dish (approx $25)
We've used Dogit Go Slow bowls for years in various sizes and would definitely recommend them for moderate gulpers. These bowls are super heavy duty and dishwasher safe, so a real bargain buy at their price point. Like the Outward Hound Fun Feeder, these bowls have a rubber lip on the bottom to stop them from sliding around (which is good and bad, because whilst it's nice not to see your dog chasing their meal around the room, the grip does make it a lot easier). We still use these from time to time, especially if our dogs have been sick and need an easier feed. On a daily basis however, we find the Outward Hound much better at slowing down their gulping.
4. Kong Genius Mike (approx $25)
This one is slightly different from your average bowl, and we're not sure it's meant for meal feeding (or just treats) but it works. We'd recommend this only for large kibble/dry-food and vegetable pieces, as the Genius Mike is rubber and not terribly easy to clean on the inside (although we imagine a long-handled dish brush would do the trick). The beauty of this toy is that it really makes dogs work for what's inside. We have seen a Kong Genius Mike last for hours, and we've heard some people freeze them to make them last even longer! Just a heads up; whilst the rubber is heavy duty, we'd suggest sticking to harder options if your dog is inclined to actually tear and eat the rubber itself.
5. Muffin Tin (up to $10)
Bet you didn't see this one coming! The humble muffin tin (hint: mini-muffin tins also work for this application). These can be purchased from your local supermarket for under $10 and are perfect for creating an interesting and interactive eating experience. Plus, they are dead easy to clean. The muffin holes are ideal for stuffing food (raw or prepared) into - and to make things extra hard, pick up some rubber balls and stick them on top so your dog has to remove them first! This is a great option if you're on a budget; and likewise, if you're just up for trying something different. If yours is a non-stick tin, keep an eye out for any scratches where the teflon is flaking and be sure to replace once this happens (as you would for yourself). This should take a long time to happen (if at all) since the tin will not be subject to any baking.
There you have it! With fun, interesting receptacles like these, who needs a plain old silver dog bowl?
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Happy feeding! :)