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Food Puzzles for Cats and Dogs

Food Puzzles

Early in the pandemic, there were numerous news reports of puzzle sales soaring, as families in lockdown looked for ways to pass the extra time they had on their hands.
Early in the pandemic, there were numerous news reports of puzzle sales soaring, as families in lockdown looked for ways to pass the extra time they had on their hands.
While your dogs and cats probably try to “help” you complete the puzzles, they likely aren’t too successful. But that doesn’t mean they can’t have fun with puzzles, too.

In recent years, food puzzles for cats and dogs have grown in popularity and offer multiple benefits for both their mental and physical health.
While house pets seem to have a great life, it’s a bit at odds with their innate makeup. Wild dogs and cats spent their time chasing, staking, and capturing their meals – the thrill of the hunt was certainly stimulating. They got plenty of exercises and mental stimulation.
So, while it’s nice to nap for hours on end, sedentary pets may find themselves bored. That can lead to stress and even destructive behavior, such as destroying furniture, overgrooming, and, for cats, accidents outside the litter box. Being a couch potato can also lead to health issues such as obesity, arthritis, and diabetes.
Food puzzles are a way to satisfy their natural urge to forage and allow pets to release pent-up energy productively. And for pets that eat too fast, a puzzle is a great way to get them to slow down.
For those not familiar, food puzzles are toys filled with food or treats. The puzzles, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes, usually feature holes or other openings that dispense food after being manipulated. Many of the puzzles are adjustable, allowing you to increase the challenge once your pets have mastered the initial version.
When you introduce food puzzles, do so around normal mealtime, so your pet will be hungry. Make it easy at first for the pet to find the food, so they’re encouraged to keep using the puzzle. If your pet isn’t interested in the puzzle, perhaps try a different one.
One favorite cat puzzle is the Snuffle Mat, which you can buy or even make yourself. It’s essentially fleece strips tied onto a rubber mat with holes in it – the fleece strips provide the cover for the treats hidden within.
Do note that with any toy, too much use results in familiarity, which results in boredom. You should always supervise your pet when using a food puzzle.
AG

 


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Comments

  1. It’s good to learn about different puzzles and techniques you can use to keep your cat challenged and entertained at home!

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