Have you heard of a snuffle mat for dogs? If you haven’t, then you probably are missing out on a great dog slow feeder and enrichment activity for dogs.
Most dogs and pet parents love snuffle mats because of the benefits they offer. In this article, we’ll go through the top 10 ways a snuffle mat helps your dog. So, what is a snuffle mat? Let’s take a look!
What Is a Snuffle Mat?
A snuffle mat can be considered as a puzzle dog bowl that is specifically designed to hide dry food, making it more challenging for your dogs to eat, all while encouraging them to practice their innate foraging skills. Snuffle mats act as a dog slow feeder or enrichment toy and require dogs to move the pieces of the mat around to access their food. Snuffle mats are a great tool to use if you are wondering how to make your dog eat more slowly and they can help prevent the dangers of your dog eating too fast.
Most snuffle mats in the market are made of fabric, however they can also be made from rubber or plastic. For snuffle mats made with fabric, they are knotted together as if imitating grass. A snuffle mat for dogs can come in different shapes and sizes. Some may be washable, some also have special features that make them stay in place, so that your dog cannot flip them to make the food fall out. There are also DIY snuffle mats you can put together on your own. Treats, dry food, or kibbles can be placed in these snuffle mats for dogs to seek out.
10 Reasons Why A Snuffle Mat Is Good for Dogs
1. Provides mental stimulation. Dogs are known to be curious and always up for an adventure. Most get bored easily, resulting in inappropriate and destructive behaviors. Luckily, food is one of the exceptional ways to encourage dogs to participate in an activity that provides mental stimulation. After all, dogs in the wild would have spent most of their waking hours thinking about food and looking for it. A snuffle mat for dogs helps provide mental stimulation because your fur-baby will spend a longer time foraging through the mat for their food, rather than eating it all out of a pile in a bowl and finishing it in just a few minutes.
This is particularly helpful for those fur-babies that cannot have their daily dog enrichment activities that involve mental stimulation. For example, those who are on a recovery program with restricted exercises, or those who have hip, joint, and mobility issues. Snuffle mats provide dog enrichment while feeding, making it a great way to keep your fur-baby mentally tired and fulfilled.
2. Prevents speedy eating. If your fur-baby is a greedy, messy eater, you already know that speedy eating does some harm. So, you have probably looked into a dog bowl for fast eaters that can help your dog eat more safely. When eating too fast, some dogs use their abdominal muscles to produce a vacuum so they can ingest the food down quickly. Speedy eating may cause diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, undigested food, and bloat. In fact, bloat is one of the biggest dangers of your dog eating too fast. There are as many as 60,000 cases of bloat each year in the U.S. according to the Veterinary Medical Center of Central New York.
So, what is the best way how to make your dog eat more slowly? A snuffle mat. A snuffle mat may act like a dog bowl for fast eaters and helps your fur-baby eat slowly. It helps you prevent the dangers of your dog eating too fast. Unlike a slow feeder dog bowl or puzzle bowl, snuffle mats work with a dog’s brain to provide enrichment and are less likely to cause frustration. Snuffle mats can function as a slow feeder dog bowl, but provide additional benefits when feeding.
3. Reduces begging. It is pretty difficult to resist your dog’s puppy eyes when they begin begging you for food and most pet parents just give in every time. This becomes a huge problem when it causes their dogs to become obese. One of the benefits of a snuffle mat is that it slows down the speed of your fur-baby’s eating. Just like humans, this can help them to feel more full. Dogs that eat slowly will feel full and satisfied towards the end of their meal, lessening the amount of food begging that happens after.
4. Burns energy for a calmer dog. If your dog has too much energy, then a snuffle mat for dogs will come in handy. One of the benefits of a snuffle mat is that it helps calm down your overly excited fur-baby. Aside from providing mental stimulation for your dog, the way your dog sniffs assists in creating happy hormones, and the concentration it puts your dog through is an amazing medium to burn excess energy. To be mentally stimulated for roughly 15 minutes can burn as much energy as an hour of walking can for your dog. This makes snuffle mats ideal for puppy energy, senior dogs with limited mobility, or adult dogs who have a lot of energy.
5. Keeps your dog entertained. A snuffle mat for dogs, considered a kind of food puzzle bowl, can surely keep your fur-baby entertained. Most dogs love food and will enjoy any activity that involves it. In addition to using snuffle mats at meal time, a snuffle bowl is great for play time. Snuffle bowls are generally circular, unlike mats, and can cinch at the top. You can put treats, supplements, or part of your dog’s meal into a snuffle bowl to keep them entertained during the day or between feedings. Just make sure that they are not eating the cinch on the snuffle bowl as it could become a choking hazard. Snuffle bowls are also great for travel since you can put food inside and cinch it easily to bring with you.
6. Helps curb separation anxiety. A snuffle mat can provide your dog a distraction that they can focus on while you get things done. Aside from the distraction it offers, it may also serve as stand-alone entertainment to keep your fur-baby busy while you are not able to give them attention. If your dog’s separation anxiety is already severe and snuffle mats and other forms of distraction no longer work, it is best to consult your vet or your dog behaviorist for you to be able to take the proper measures. You might consider adding supplements like our Calming SoftSupps® to your dog’s daily routine to help promote balanced behavior and a sense of relaxation in your fur-baby.
7. Reduces stress. Lack of exercise and mental and physical stimulation can cause dogs feel stressed out and bored. A snuffle mat offers an outstanding activity for your fur-baby instead of lazing around and choosing to gnaw on your furniture at home. Dogs love to smell and a snuffle mat will deliver them an opportunity to have fun. Since the sense of smell is extra sensitive to dogs, it assists in reducing stress. Moreover, the movements that they will have to do to get the food will ease their sense of comfort and satisfaction. Of course, providing a snuffle mat does not mean you should stop exercising your dog. However, they can provide an excellent supplement to exercise for stress relief as they are getting more mental stimulation and activity.
8. Stimulates the sense of smell. A dog possesses up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to only about six million in us humans. Additionally, there is also a part of a dog's brain that is committed to only analyzing and studying smells and this is about 40 times greater than ours, according to Phoenix Veterinary Center. So, dog nose work is extremely important. Dogs are drawn to unique, new, and interesting odors, and snuffle mats are just that! Snuffling is the equivalent of solving a complex problem, so this can help with focus. Snuffle mats for dogs can be a dog enrichment while feeding as they create a space where treats, dry food, or kibbles are easily hidden. The hidden treats enable your fur-baby’s nose work and natural canine foraging abilities.
9. Helps keep doggy dementia away. Doggy dementia, also known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) is a common disorder usually diagnosed in older dogs. According to Pets WebMD, CCD is a cognitive disorder related to the aging and deterioration of a dog's brain, leading to changes in behavior and primarily affecting learning, coordination, comprehension, and memory. With dementia, your fur-baby will suffer from disorientation, interaction changes, sleep-wake cycle disruptions, memory loss, restlessness, incontinence, and more.
Dementia in your fur-baby can be prevented or slowed down by continuing to mentally stimulate them as they grow older. It is recommended to keep your dog’s mind sharp and healthy and a snuffle mat does that. You can also try playing brain games with them to help keep them mentally sharp.
10. Redirects problematic behaviors to something positive. Hunting for a reward found in the snuffle mat can help combat problematic behaviors like excessive barking, digging, and excessive chewing. Dogs want to act on their natural instincts so it is best to allow them to do that in a way that is not destructive and actually beneficial to their health.
Dog slow feeders can help prevent serious problems, like bloat. However, snuffle mats go above and beyond puzzle dog bowls or plastic slow feeder dog bowls to provide mental stimulation and dog enrichment while feeding. Snuffle mats can serve as an alternative to a dog bowl for fast eaters. Not only are they a great way how to make your dog eat more slowly, but they can also supplement exercise, reduce anxiety, and provide a fun activity for your dog.