If your dogs are eating kibble out of a plain old bowl - stainless steel or not - they're just not getting the best dining experience available to them. The newest iteration of a pet bowl is a cloth dinner mat with loops and grooves and curls and crevices that purports to mentally stimulate your pups as they eat and to resemble canine feeding in the wild. As our dogs are not wild dogs, they seem to think that getting their dinners served on a snuffle mat is just plain fun!
Here are some really cute mats I found on Amazon.
The Wooly, which you can see in action in the video above, is a very popular snuffle mat. Its motto, "Feed Your Dog's Belly And Brain," attempts to emphasize the mental challenge involved in a dog's foraging for food. While I agree, a snuffle mat provides more challenge than a food bowl, snuffle mats are the simplest of puzzles for a dog. (Level 1 stimulation, perhaps.) The Wooly is handmade with upcycled materials and is machine washable.
This adorable Yummy Snuffle Mat contains foraging material, as well as pockets and containers for more mental stimulation and slower feeding. It also has some floor grippers attached to the underside, so the mat can resist slipping. The Yummy comes in mint green (above) and red polar fleece.
The DingDongPet Nosework Snuffle Mat comes in five sizes; the image above represents the largest one at nearly 5 feet square. It looks like a real challenge; I just don't know about how you would care for it. The word 'nosework' in the name is one that is used to describe a certain training similar to that being taught to search and rescue dogs. But this mat, as much fun as it might be for your dogs will not help certify them for airport jobs!
There are more of the snuffle mats for sale on Amazon in somewhat different formats and sizes.
Advantages of the snuffle mats
Indeed, there are some advantages to feeding your dog on a snuffle mat:
1. A snuffle mat keeps dogs from eating too fast.
2. A snuffle mat comes closer to a canine's 'foraging' experience in the wild than does eating out of a bowl.
3. Depending on the variety of loops, pockets, curls, and grooves in your mat, a snuffle mat can offer mental stimulation to your pet.
Disadvantages of the snuffle mats
1. Only dry food (kibble) or dry cookies should be used in a snuffle mat. As food mats have evolved, so have dog food recommendations. They are evolving in different directions, however, so though you have to use kibble in your feeder mat, most pet nutritionists recommend raw diets.
2. Snuffle mats need to be washed regularly to remove crumbs; otherwise, they will attract ants and other undesirables. Only the PAW5 Wooly, above, states that it is machine washable. How would they hold up to regular washing?
3. Snuffle mats are expensive - considerably more than those made of plastic, or other sturdy material. (Alternative: MAKE YOUR OWN SNUFFLE MAT! Here are some easy instructions to make your own snuffle mat at The Honest Kitchen blog!)
I do love how the snuffle mats look, and you can go really crazy with their designs!
That's the buzz for today!