If you have dogs that get bored easily or just love treats, Kong toys are the way to go! Kong toys serve many purposes; they can be a durable chew toy, a fetch toy, and even an interactive toy to stuff food and treats in the center. My pups are crate trained, and a great way to keep them from getting too bored is to give them a treat-stuffed Kong when they go in their crates. This is especially rewarding in the summertime when it is warmer, as you can stuff your Kong with many different yummy treats and then freeze it for a few hours. When you give it to your pup, it will keep them entertained trying to get the treat out of the Kong, and it will cool them down at the same time! My pups love their Kongs so much that they know to bring me theirs when they want to switch it out with another treat filled one! Let’s talk about how-to make Kong treat suffers for your pups. By the end of this post, you’ll have a great list of ideas and ingredients to stuff your pup’s Kong.
Decide what works best for your Pup
Most importantly- does your dog have any food allergies, dietary restrictions, or weight issues? If so, it’s ok, we can work with that! Make sure to think about this when coming up with things to put in your pup’s kong. We must be very careful with pets that have food allergies or other dietary restrictions as some of the ingredients we will be discussing may contain items that food-allergic pets might react to. Lastly, If your veterinarian has your pup on a diet, how about taking a portion of their dinner and stuffing it in a kong? It will keep them satisfied during the day. Or overweight pets can enjoy low-fat veggies in their Kongs. Just check with your veterinarian on the portion size that is OK to feed them. I have separated out the ingredients below into three categories based on texture; Paste, Liquid, and Solid ingredients. Let’s talk about each one.
Paste recipes- these can be fed right away or stored in the freezer for a tasty frozen treat!
The paste recipes can be placed in the hole of the kong with either a small spoon or I found the best way is with a butter knife, as it is smaller than the hole of the kong and you can then put your paste as far into the middle of the kong as you want. The more challenging it is to get to, the longer your pup will be entertained.
- Peanut Butter: You can use human peanut butter but make sure it does not contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in some peanut butter brands that are toxic to dogs. Peanut butter is also very high fat so make sure to not use too much as it could upset your pup’s stomach. If you’re looking for a 100% dog-safe peanut butter, try dogsbutter. My dogs love it!
- Canned Food: Is there a canned version of the food your dog is currently on? This would do great spooned into the Kong or using a butter knife. I would only do 1-2 tablespoons at a time to not upset your pup’s stomach.
- Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, or Cream Cheese: Caution as some dogs may be sensitive to dairy, and this may cause an upset stomach and diarrhea. This is a great item to pair with another food with flavoring (peanut butter, etc.) or fruit from the solids section. Go small with this one to avoid stomach upset.
- Canned Pumpkin: Make sure this is the canned pumpkin and NOT THE PUMPKIN PIE FILLING. The ingredients on the can should just say pumpkin, not any cinnamon and sugar. Pumpkin is a great digestion aid too!
- Kong Products: the kong company themselves have many products in a spray can that dogs love (much like spray cheese). Check out the Kong website for more info.
When using liquids, the best way to stuff the kong is to first plug the tiny hole at the bottom of the kong with a thick paste from the paste section so the liquid does not drain out easily. With the liquid recipes, you fill-up the kong, set in an upright position in a sandwich bag, and place in your freezer for up to 5 hours or longer. Your dog will enjoy this pup-sicle and it will keep them busy as they continually lick it and it slowly thaws.
- Broth with no onion: Make sure it is low sodium. Unsalted chicken stock works well! You must read the ingredient list on ANY broth as most of them are flavored with onion, which is toxic to dogs. Be careful!
- Dog Beer: Yes, this does exist! A non-alcoholic beer just for your pups! Check out this brand of beer to put in your pup’s kong!
- Water: Water actually works just fine as a filler as well, most dogs love ice cubes! If you want to add a little flavor you can add a fruit or veggie from the solids section
Solid items are great to cut up into small chunks and place in the kong, or they are great paired with one of the liquid or paste recipe items!
- Various fruits: various fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, pineapple, pears, oranges, mango, bananas, apples, peaches, and watermelon are great if the seeds are removed, and any hard pits or tough skin/rinds are removed before feeding. Cut your fruit of choice up into half-inch or one-inch pieces and stuff them into the kong with another solid, or even pair them with a liquid/paste item. Not all fruits are safe for pets. For example, grapes can cause kidney failure in pets, so if the fruit is not from the list above and prepared as instructed above, research it to make sure its safe before feeding to your pup.
- Various vegetables: Vegetables can cause some gassy behaviors, so make sure to feed in small quantities. Good veggies would be green beans, celery, carrots, cooked and cubed sweet potatoes, or peas. Cut your veggies up to fit inside the kong, or as a challenge, you can leave the long skinny veggies such as carrots, celery, or green beans sitting upright in the hole of the kong and stuff other items or a paste around it. Your pup will have some challenge and enjoy eating their veggies!
- Some meats: Meats such as chicken, lean ground beef, pork, and some fish are OK for dogs if they are cooked without oils or seasonings. You would prepare these meats by boiling, steaming, or browning them plain without any fat or skin on the meat. Caution with fish as it can contain bones! After cooking, cut the meat in small pieces so it can fit in the kong. Meat is great paired with one of the liquids and then frozen!
- Kibble: Some of your dog’s kibble that they normally eat works great in a kong, and it makes them work to get it out! Pair it with any other ingredients and it will last longer.
Your pups favorite bone treat makes good toppers once you have stuffed your kong. It will help hold the ingredients in and give your pup a challenge! You just need to push the bottom or half of the bone inside the hole. If your pup’s bone doesn’t fit in the hole of the kong- try a fruit or veggie topper!
Mix it up
Why only have one thing inside the kong- why not mix it up and make it fun for your pup! Here are some common mixtures from the ingredients listed above:
- Peanut butter mixed with cream cheese and your pup’s dried kibble
- Greek Yogurt with Pumpkin
- Broth with meat discussed above, such as chicken
- Cottage cheese with berries, or cottage cheese with kibble
- Celery and either cream cheese or peanut butter. You can leave the celery piece long and fill the kong with paste!
- Greek Yogurt with a variety of cut-up fruits
- Watermelon filled with water (and don’t forget to plug the bottom of the kong with a paste before filling).
Give them a variety
Whatever ingredients or recipe you choose, make sure to give your pup variety so they don’t get the same thing every time, and start in small quantities so they don’t have digestive upset. You could even mix up your ingredients and pre-make the kong “stuffing” for the week if it becomes a fun routine!
My favorite way to make the kongs is to combine any of my ingredients and freeze them- that way it is a longer-lasting and refreshing treat for my pups. You can give any of the recipes as fresh and not frozen, just be prepared for your pup to be done with their kong within minutes!
Do you have a go-to recipe you use to stuff your pup’s kong? Let’s hear about it in the comments!