One of the best tools to keep your dog busy is a Kong! These are great on days with bad weather when you can’t get your dog out for regular exercise. If you work from home, a stuffed Kong can keep your dog busy while you’re on an important phone call. Kongs are also great for dogs who are recovering from surgery and aren’t allowed to move around much. Instead of just using peanut butter, check out the healthy Kong stuffing recipes in this post.
Last year on a trip to California, I visited the Palm Springs Animal Shelter and got a tour of their beautiful facility. Part of the tour included a demonstration of how the shelter uses Kong fillings to provide enrichment, fun and tasty treats to their dogs.
These healthy Kong stuffing recipes will last longer when you use a layered technique with the ingredients. Stuffing a Kong toy this way makes them last longer and provides a fun experience that will keep your dog engaged with the toy.
The shelter shares an amazing guide to help volunteers understand why Kongs are used for shelter dogs and recipes on how to stuff them for optimal fun and enrichment. That guide is such a great resource that I’ve saved the piece of paper for almost a year! Now, I want to share this info with you.
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What is a Kong?
First of all, a Kong is a must-have for all dog owners. It’s a rubber snowman-shaped toy that’s hollow on the inside and can be filled with treats and given to your dog. Depending on what you use to stuff your Kong, they can provide a great puzzle to your dog and help bust boredom, alleviate separation anxiety or distract high energy or nervous dogs.
Kongs come in a variety of styles suited for everyone from puppies to super-tough chewers. I’ve always bought the regular sized red Kong and they’ve worked well for my labradors for the last 15 years. That’s right… I’ve been stuffing Kongs for over 15 years! If your dog is a tough chewer, you should pick up the extreme version.
What’s a Good Kong Stuffing?
You can stuff your Kong with something simple like all-natural peanut butter. They’ll be delighted to lick that up! If you want to keep it simple but make the treat last a little longer, stuff your Kong with the peanut butter then put it in the freezer overnight. A frozen peanut butter stuffed Kong should keep your pup distracted long enough for you to get out the door in the morning, do some cleaning or just have some quiet time to yourself.
One of the best things is that you can stuff a Kong with whatever you have available. Be creative! For my two labradors, I’ll often use peanut butter, plain greek yogurt, pumpkin puree, treats, kibble, carrots, apples, chews, jerky, etc. Based on my experience with my dogs, I’ve up with lots of healthy Kong stuffing recipes!
Boredom Buster Kong Recipe
The Palm Springs Animal Shelter has an awesome healthy formula for a Kong filler that will keep your dog interested until the very last morsel. According to their guide, this is a great way to build up your dog’s attention span, teach them how to focus on a task and be calm when they need to be. I like to use this formula when I stuff Kongs for Burt and Lucy because I think it makes them much more fun than just using one ingredient.
Step 1: Tantalizer
At the small end of your kong, insert something super tasty like a little morsel of freeze dried liver, peanut butter, almond butter or cheese.
Step 2: Dessert
Next up, fill the smallest third of the Kong with treats such as biscuits, treats, cubed apple, carrots, green beans or bananas.
Step 3: Main Course
Stuff the last two thirds of the Kong with your regular dog food such as kibble or canned food. If you’re using kibble, try mixing it with unsweetened applesauce to make it harder for your dog to get it out.
Step 4: Appetizer
The last step is to put something in the opening at the widest side of your Kong. Use a treat, chew or jerky sticking out of the top to entice your dog to “get serious” about the deconstruction job ahead of them!
Healthy Kong Filler Options
In addition to treats, kibble, chews and peanut butter, there’s a variety of healthy and dog safe ingredients you can use for Kong fillings. Have fun and experiment! For starters, my labradors love all of these:
Fruits: Apples, Bananas, Blueberries, Strawberries, Watermelon
Veggies: Carrots, Green Beans, Peas, Brocolli
Spread: Almond Butter, Peanut Butter (make sure it’s Xylitol free!), Coconut Oil
Cheese: SPray cheese, Cottage Cheese, Cheddar Cheese Cubes
Yogurt: Low Fat Plain, Plain Greek Yogurt
Food: Kibble, Canned Food, Healthy Treats (like freeze-dried liver) Cooked Chicken or Beef, Kibble Soaked in Water
Sauce: Pumpkin Puree, Unsweetened Applesauce
>> Looking for some tricks to making stuffing your Kong even easier? Check out the kong stuffing hacks in this post!
Kong Stuffing Combo Recipes
You can pair any of the above ingredients together for your Kong filling. But to make it really easy for you, I came up with a few simple recipes from a regular stand by to a low fat recipe and a recipe that’s good for dogs with dry skin.
Low Fat Combo
Almond Butter, Green Beans, Kibble with Applesauce, Carrot
Peanut Butter, Cheddar Cheese, Yogurt mixed with Kibble, top with treats
Dry Skin Combo
Coconut Oil, Freeze Dried Liver Treats, Mashed Sardines in Water
Make Your Dog’s Kong Last Longer
If your dog is anything like my labs, they can finish a carefully stuffed Kong before you have time to turn back around! Keep your dog busy with their Kong for longer by freezing it overnight. This works best if you have at least one liquidy filling like kibble mixed with water, pumpkin puree, applesauce or yogurt. I’d also recommend freezing the Dry Skin Combo recipe above so you don’t end up with sardine juice all over the place! Yuck!
>> Get my best hacks for making frozen Kongs in this post. You’ll love tip number 1 if you want to use any liquids in your dog’s Kong!
I also love to combine two long lasting treats in one by stuffing a dried chew such as a chicken foot (as you can see above) in the end of the Kong. If you freeze this combination it should really keep your dog busy! My favorite long lasting dried chews are from Real Dog Box. Subscribe and get a free bag of treats in your first box!
Ready to Entertain Your Dog with a Stuffed Kong?
I hope this post helped you think of lots of creative healthy Kong stuffing recipes for your dog! There’s something for every dog’s taste and dietary needs. I’d love to hear about your favorite Kong fillers! Comment on this post and tell me what your dog goes crazy for!
Love this post? I bet you’ll love these, too:
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Kong Stuffing Ideas to Mix Up Your Dog’s Routine
How to Switch Your Labrador to a New Food
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