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If you’re a dog owner, you know when Fido is bored he may be inclined toward bad behavior, like chewing on everything in sight or barking to get attention. If you’re wondering what you can do to keep him entertained, we have a suggestion: a Kong dog toy. Not only are Kongs fun for your furry companion, they’re also safe and help keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy. Now that’s what we call killing two birds with one stone! But Kong toys actually have many more uses than serving to entertain Fido while helping to clean his pearly whites. If you’re new to Kong toys or are looking for creative and fun ways to use a Kong to keep your pup healthy and happy, then you’ve come to the right place!
1. Freeze It for Teething Relief
Just like humans, puppies have baby teeth that, around the age of four months, are replaced by permanent teeth. If you’ve got a new puppy in the house, a Kong toy is a great way to help ease teething discomfort. Chewing is also a way they instinctively help speed up the process of loosening baby teeth. Of course, you’ll want to choose the appropriate Kong size for your puppy, place it in the freezer for a few hours, and then let your fur baby chew for pain relief.
2. Slow Feed for Full Meals
Some dogs love to inhale their food at mealtime. This habit is not healthy, because larger pieces of kibble are harder for the digestive system to process, and eating too much too fast can prevent the digestive tract from receiving the full nutritional benefits of your pet’s food. If you’ve got a speedy eater in your household, try filling a Kong with their meal-sized portion of dry or wet dog food. It will take a lot longer for them to wrangle all of the food out and can help with digestive health—and even weight loss. Be sure to sanitize their toy after every meal, particularly if you are using wet or raw dog food.
3. Create a Tasty Kong-Sicle
In the hot and steamy summer months, frozen treats are a great way to keep Fido’s body temperature cool, while offering him a little playtime. For this goody, you’ll want to plug the top hole of your Kong with a piece of kibble, or another dog-friendly food item. Then place the Kong upside down in a bowl. Next, fill it with treats, kibble, or another delicious homemade filling and top off with warm water or broth to soften the food. Lastly, freeze the Kong overnight and serve it up the next day.
4. Make a Fetch Toy
The Kong brand makes its own fetch toys, but if you’re a fan of DIY, then you can also make your own at home. Choose an appropriately-sized Kong that your dog can pick up, thread a rope through, and tie it off with large knots at both ends. If you want to increase the fun level and encourage your dog to play, rub a small dab of fish oil or meat juice on the Kong.
5. Fill and Use to Soothe Your Pup
Pets that don’t do well when left alone, or that experience high levels of anxiety, often enjoy a food-stuffed Kong to distract and calm them down. We find that a dog-safe peanut butter is tasty and will last longer than stuffing it with kibble or treats—but any doggie-food stuffing will work.
6. Up the Dental Benefits with Toothpaste
Chewing safe, vet-approved dog toys is an excellent way to improve the dental hygiene of your four-legged friend. These toys can keep the gums healthy and help remove harmful bacteria on the surface of the teeth and around the gumline. You can boost the dental benefits of the Kong by slathering one side of the Kong with pet toothpaste or another oral pet healthcare product and then letting Fido go to town. This method is a great addition to daily toothbrushing, but we do not recommend it as a replacement for toothbrushing.
7. Sneak Medication
Most dogs are not fans of taking medications, and some will even detect it when hidden in their food. But if you mix their pills or supplements with a bit of peanut butter or other soft food and stuff a Kong with it, they will often be distracted, and won’t notice that their treat-filled toy is hiding something healthy for them. Be sure to read instructions to make certain their medications can be taken with food.
While there are certainly other ways to use a Kong dog toy, these are some of our favorite tried and tested uses. Now that you’ve read this article, it’s time to give your dog a playful treat!