Every dog — and dog parent — needs a Kong. Launched in 1976, the natural-rubber Kong will keep your dog occupied and teach proper chewing habits — stop him from chewing up your shoes, the remote control or your furniture.
A Kong can be used in a myriad of situations. It will keep your pup calm in his crate, in the car or occupied when you’re busy. A Kong also satisfies the instinctual need for hunting as your dog will spend hours chewing and working at getting to the food inside. It’s perfect for the dog who’s motivated by food and also helpful for the fussy eater. You can stuff the Kong with treats or mix kibble in with a high-value food that will entice him to eat his food.
Kongs have hollow centers that are made for filling with food and treats.
For those who want other ideas besides the go-to peanut-butter stuffer, here are some of the tastiest and healthiest choices:
1. Mashed Sweet Potato or Pumpkin. This super food is sweet yet a low-calorie choice. If your dog needs encouragement, mix it with some beef or liver treats.
2. Baby Food. Easy to digest, and dogs love it. The best choices are meat-based foods like lamb, chicken and turkey. Just check the label and choice one that doesn’t contain any garlic or onion powder, which are toxic to dogs.
3. Egg Scramble. Scramble up some eggs with a little cheese and shredded veggies like carrots, spinach or green beans. Stuff mixture into Kong and sprinkle some cheese on top of the opening. Microwave for a few seconds to melt. Let cool before giving to your dog.
4. Mac and Cheese. Use some leftover pasta and mix with a low-fat cheese like mozzarella or cottage cheese.
5. Chicken Pot Pie. Mix together some leftover chicken, peas and carrots and mashed potato. Just make sure the chicken is boneless!
6. Fruit Salad. Mix small pieces of apple, peaches, blueberries or cantaloupe with mashed banana.
7. Yogurt Bliss. Mix together equal amounts of plain yogurt and kibble. Add smaller portions of green beans and chopped strawberries. Freeze if you think it will be too messy.
8. Philly Steak. Stuff some chopped steak pieces into a Kong and top with cream cheese to keep the meat in.
9. Peanut Butter and Kibble. If your dog is a fussy eater, mixing his kibble with something he loves will turn a fussy eater into a chow hound. You can also mix kibble with cottage cheese if he’s a fan.
10. Banana Dream. Use a mashed fresh banana. Add 2 tablespoons wheat germ and 1 tablespoon plain yogurt. Stuff into a Kong and pop in the freezer for an hour.
11. Nut Butter. As an alternative to peanut butter, try some almond, cashew, sunflower seed, sesame seed or pumpkin seed butter.
12. Meat Treat. Mix a cup of small pieces of steak with a cup of mashed potatoes, ½ cup of peas, and 1 cup of diced carrots. Stuff several Kongs and freeze.
13. Yummy Parfait. Fill the top hole with peanut butter. Then layer in dog treats like biscuits or cookies, a layer of wet dog food (which can be mixed with kibble), and then a treat sticking out of the bottom hole to get your dog interested. Other layers could include: liver paté/cheese chunks/cooked eggs/small piece of hot dog OR meat-based baby food/freeze-dried liver/shredded chicken/string cheese. Get creative!
14. Sweet Nutty Rice. Mix and mash together cooked white rice, cooked sweet potato, and peanut butter. This mixture can also be frozen.
15. Fruit Delight. Mash together or blend a banana, a handful of blueberries, and plain yogurt. Spoon into a Kong and freeze.