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How best to use a Kong

Make sure that your dog can tolerate the ingredients in your kong filling. Always read labels for sugar (dogs don’t need it). Salt, high fat content and additives should be avoided if and where possible. Always read labels.

Do not give if your vet advises you not to.

Never leave your dog unattended with a Kong until you are sure that he uses it safely and appropriately.

Kongs are a great way to calm dogs down. Licking has a calming effect on most dogs. It is also mentally stimulating for them. Some dogs however can become highly aroused by Kongs and it may be an idea not to use a Kong with them. Some dogs can become frustrated by them so it is always important to monitor your dog’s reactions. This can be overcome for some dogs by cutting away parts of the Kong so that your dog can manage to lick all of the food out. It may simply be a case of widening each end of the Kong. Variety is the key, and care must be taken not to give same foods day after day.

The dog’s daily ration of food can be stuffed into a Kong giving the dog some mental stimulation at the same time. If using dry food pre-soak it in cold water and leave until it is mushy.

Mashed potato can be mixed with various things such as a tin of sardines, pilchards (in oil), tiny pieces of cheese (dogs should only consume roughly one inch cubed piece of cheese a day and not every day), peanut butter, fish and meat pastes. Cheese can be melted inside the Kong in the microwave (blocking tiny hole end first), cool in mug upside down. Never give this to your dog before the Kong has cooled down.

Use your imagination, trying to avoid junk (high fat content, sugar, salt and additives) food obviously; it’s just as bad for your dogs as it is for you. Banana can be made mushy and mixed with nuts and other fruits, avoiding macadamia nuts, grapes and raisins, as these can be poisonous for dogs.

Porridge with added goodies, pieces of sausage, ham, any cooked meats. I have used porridge mixed with rice; the rice gets everywhere! This is especially good for those dogs that need a carbohydrate snack during the evenings to help maintain blood sugar levels. Mashed cooked or uncooked vegetables with pieces of meat can be mixed into the porridge mix.

Try using apple and banana mashed. Stewed fruit such as apple, pear, with no added sugar can be mushy and used with other ingredients such as porridge, potato etc.

Depending on the dog you could try raw fruit (not raisins or grapes, these are poisonous for dogs) and vegetables with something sticky such as peanut butter, cottage cheese, thick yoghurt. Using a mushy food helps the rest of the non-sticky foods to stay in and makes it more challenging for your dog.

Brown bread soaked in meat stock, water or simply mixed with a tin of sardines, pilchards and similarly strong-flavoured foods work well.

Another dimension for the Kong is to freeze it, some dogs enjoy this. Of course the Kong should not be given straight from the freezer. By waiting a few minutes for it to warm a little so as to avoid ice burn. Equally others don’t enjoy a frozen Kong; they can become bored and frustrated eventually giving up. It’s up to you as an owner to monitor your dog’s reactions to a Kong and act accordingly.

Some dogs toss the Kong into the air and become wound up by it. If this is so with your dog then maybe trying alternative methods to relax and stimulate your dog would be better.

Licking is calming and relaxing for dogs. However some dogs can become frustrated by Kongs if they can’t reach the end of it. There are several ways around this problem: Stuffing the narrow end with paper as far as the dog can reach and then adding the food, or cutting off the narrow end of the Kong so that your dog has access at both ends relieves the frustration.

Hiding a Kong or two for your dog is a great way to add some variety as he has to search for it. This can help to build confidence provided he is allowed to find it by himself. Make it easy at first until he gets the idea then increase the difficulty gradually. If this frustrates your dog it may not be a good idea. Know your dog.