Kongs are a popular type of dog toy that can provide hours of entertainment, and can help prevent boredom and behavior problems in your dog.
They’re made of durable rubber and come in various sizes and strengths of rubber, depending on your dog's age and chewing strength.
One of the unique features of Kongs is that they can be filled with treats, or stuffed with your dog’s regular food making them an excellent way to keep your dog occupied and mentally stimulated.
In this article we'll help you understand what a Kong toy is, what to put in a Kong and give you some recipe ideas to keep your dog busy and entertained.
There are many options for what to put in a Kong, from store-bought treats to homemade recipes. Some popular choices include peanut butter, sweet potato, pumpkin, yogurt, and fruit. It's important to choose ingredients that are safe for your dog to eat and avoid anything that could be harmful, like chocolate, onions, or grapes.
It's also essential to consider your individual dog's dietary needs or any allergies they might have when thinking about what to stuff a Kong with.
Whether you're looking for a quick and easy option or want to get creative with homemade recipes, there are plenty of choices for what to put in a Kong. With a little experimentation, you're sure to find the perfect combination of ingredients that your dog will love.
What is a Kong toy for?
Kong toys are a type of food enrichment toy, in fact one of the originals before dog enrichment was ever popular or even a thing!
These toys are made of strong rubber and come in various sizes and strengths of rubber. They are designed to be filled with treats or food, which can keep your dog occupied for hours.
Here’s some things to bear in mind when you’re going to use a Kong toy:
Choose the right size kong for your dog
With kong sizing, I typically say to go bigger than you think you need, especially with a growing puppy. If the Kong is small enough to fit in your dog's mouth it can be dangerous and get stuck, similarly if it's too big, your dog may not be able to empty it effectively, and this can cause frustration, as they can't get all of the food out!
Kong toys come in different sizes, ranging from extra small to extra large. Check the packaging or consult the Kong website to determine the appropriate size for your dog.
You can also read our article what size Kong should I get for my dog? to learn more.
Choosing the right type of kong
Kongs come in different strengths from the puppy (pastel pink or blue colored) and senior (purple) kongs which are softer rubber to allow for gentler chewing due to the dog's decreased jaw strength. The Kong classic (red) is made for regular chewers and adult dogs, though many puppies are fine with the red one too. The extreme Kong (black) is made of much tougher rubber, and is suited to harder chewers such as Bulldogs or large breeds.
What to put in a Kong toy
There are many things you can put in a Kong toy to keep your dog amused. Some popular options include Kong stuff n paste, dog safe peanut butter, yogurt, canned pumpkin, and fruit. You can also use Kong treats, which are shaped and baked to fit into Kong toys. These treats can be stuffed into the toys whole or broken into pieces to add a yummy crunch.
Some people also use an icing bag or a special tool to help stuff kongs with mashed ingredients, helpful if you are doing batch cooking or Kong stuffing for your dog!
Cleaning the Kong toy
Kong toys are pretty easy to clean by hand using warm, soapy water, and a bottle brush or old toothbrush. Make sure you rinse the toy thoroughly to remove any soap residue before giving it back to your dog. I have put them in the dishwasher but they will degrade after constant dishwashing, so do be aware of that!
Check the Kong regularly for signs of wear and tear, or where the rubber may have split. Some dogs have a habit of picking at the toy with their teeth, causing pieces of rubber to break off. Yes, it’s annoying! Replace the toy if it becomes damaged as we don't want them swallowing small pieces of rubber.
Understanding how to use your Kong toy is the first step to keeping your dog entertained and mentally stimulated. By choosing the right size and durability of Kong dog toy, filling it with tasty treats, and keeping it clean, you can ensure that your dog gets the most out of this popular enrichment toy.
Right, let's get into the Kong recipes!
Essential Kong fillings
When it comes to filling a Kong, you can generally stuff them with whatever dog safe thing you like, but here’s some common ones people use. These fillings are not only delicious but can also act as a glue to help other foods like their regular day to day food stick to, especially handy if you feed kibble. Without this soft food glue, the dry fillings often fall out which while ok, doesn't make for the long lasting puzzle toy that you’re hoping will keep your dog entertained .
Here are four essential Kong fillings that every dog owner should know about:
Peanut butter is a classic Kong stuffer that many dogs love, and is easy to use. It's easy to stuff and provides a good source of protein and healthy fats. However, it's important to use natural peanut butter that doesn't contain xylitol, a sugar substitute that is toxic to dogs. To make the peanut butter last longer, you can freeze the Kong after stuffing.
Canned pumpkin is another great Kong filling that provides a good source of fiber and can help with digestive issues. Make sure to use plain canned pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling, which contains added sugars and spices.
You can also cook up your own pumpkin, and this is a great way to use up leftover Halloween pumpkin!
Yogurt or Cheese
Plain Greek yogurt, cottage or soft cheese like Philadelphia is helpful for added protein and creaminess, and dogs go seriously mad for this! Keep in mind some dogs and puppies struggle with dairy a bit, so I'd suggest you use lactose-free products if you're in doubt.
Dog Friendly Fruits
Fruits are a great Kong filling option as they provide essential vitamins and minerals, and can be smushed into the nooks and crannies. Some dog-friendly fruits include apples, bananas, and blueberries. Make sure you remove any seeds or pips and cut the fruit into small pieces before stuffing it into the Kong.
When filling a Kong, it's important to choose fillings that are healthy and safe for your dog, but also make sure they are ones your dog actually likes! My dog won't go near fruit, yet I know of other French Bulldogs who simply love it!
Protein Rich Kong Fillings
Dogs do require a good amount of protein in their diet so when it comes to filling a Kong, protein-rich options are a great choice to keep dogs satisfied and energized. They’re also a good way of adding extra calories to your dog’s diet, but try and keep it nutritionally balanced overall.
Here are some great protein-rich fillings to put in a kong:
Cooked chicken is a great option for filling a Kong, as it's high in protein and easy to prepare, and most dogs LOVE it! Simply cook the chicken until it is fully cooked and then shred it into small pieces. You can mix it with some of your dog's regular diet or vegetables to add some extra flavor and nutrition.
Store bought plain cooked chicken is also totally fine, just make sure it doesn't have a high salt content, and all bones are removed.
Sardines are also a firm favorite for filling a Kong. High in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help promote healthy skin and coat. You can also use some vegetables or mashed sweet potato for a delicious and nutritious filling.
Buy them canned in salt water or feed fresh to stuff in your dog's kong and watch their eyes light up!
Scrambled eggs are a super easy stuffable option for dogs that love eggs. They are high in protein and easy to prepare. Simply scramble some eggs (leave out the cream!) and mix them with some cooked veggies for a filling and satisfying Kong.
Remember, when filling a Kong, it is important to choose ingredients that are safe and healthy for your dog. Never use ingredients that are toxic to dogs, such as raisins, chocolate, onions, or garlic.
Healthy Daily Treats to put in a Kong
When it comes to stuffing a Kong, it's important to choose healthy and nutritious treats that will keep your dog engaged and satisfied. Here are some great options to consider:
Dog Treats and Biscuits
Commercial dog treats and biscuits are a classic Kong filler that most pups love. Look for ones that are made with high-quality ingredients, such as whole grains and lean proteins. You can also find biscuits that are specifically designed to fit inside a Kong, which can make stuffing even easier. For day to day I'd suggest stuffing the kong with kibble and a few dog biscuits mixed in so your dog gets a treat, but also their regular food.
Carrots are a healthy and low-calorie option that many dogs enjoy. Not only are they packed with vitamins and minerals, but they're also great for your pup's dental health. For better digestibility steam or mash them before using as a Kong stuffing. For more of a crunch, try cutting them into small pieces or shredding them before stuffing them into a Kong.
Sweet potatoes are another nutritious option that can be used to stuff a Kong. They're high in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, and they have a natural sweetness that many dogs love. They should be cooked before you use them as a Kong stuffing and can be mashed or cut into small cubes then used as a filling.
Remember, when stuffing a Kong, it's important to choose treats that are appropriate for your dog's size and dietary needs.
Frozen Kong Recipes
Once your dog has got the hang of emptying their Kong, you'll find they can do it in no time! One way to make a Kong last longer is by freezing it after filling. I’ll often use pieces of cheddar to block the hole as this stops the food escaping before freezing.
Here are two frozen Kong recipes to try:
Yogurt and Berries Frozen Kong
This recipe is perfect for a hot summer day, and will help to cool a hot dog down. It's refreshing and healthy, and your dog will love it!
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Berries (blueberries, strawberries, and/or raspberries are well received)
- Honey (optional)
- Mix the yogurt and honey (if using) in a bowl.
- Place the Kong in a mug on its end
- Fill the Kong about 1/3 of the way with the yogurt mixture.
- Add a layer of berries.
- Repeat until the Kong is full.
- Stand upright in a freeze and freeze for at least 2 hours.
Bone Broth and Veggies Kong
This recipe is a great way to sneak some veggies into your dog's diet. The bone broth adds flavor and nutrition, and the frozen veggies provide a satisfying crunch.
- Bone broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
- Frozen mixed vegetables
- Pour the bone broth into a bowl.
- Add the frozen veggies and mix well.
- Fill the Kong with the mixture.
- Freeze for at least 2 hours.
Note: You can also add some cooked rice or quinoa to this recipe for extra fiber and protein.
Check our our bone broth recipes
Frozen Kongs are a great way to keep your dog occupied for longer periods of time, and are also nice if your puppy is teething as the cooling sensation helps to numb their gums, and is soothing.
Perfect for hot summer days, frozen Kongs provide a healthy and tasty treat for your four legged friend. Try these recipes and see which one your dog likes best!
I’d recommend giving these to your dog’s outside, as they can get messy when they’re melting.
Safety tips when using a Kong
Ok, the boring stuff…..Kong toys are generally safe for dogs to use, but there are a few things to think about to ensure your dog's safety.
Here are some tips to follow when using Kong toys so that Kongtime goes smoothly:
- Choose the right size: Make sure you choose a Kong toy that is the appropriate size for your dog. A toy that is too small could be a choking hazard, while a toy that is too large may be difficult for your dog to play with.
- Supervise your dog: It's a good idea to supervise your dog when they are playing with a Kong toy, to watch how they chew and interact with it. If your dog is an aggressive chewer, they may be able to damage the toy and potentially swallow pieces of it.
- Check the Kong over regularly: This is so you can look for signs of damage or wear and tear. If the toy is damaged, split or degraded, replace it.
- Use safe fillings: When filling the Kong toy, make sure to use safe fillings that are appropriate for your dog. Avoid using fillings that are toxic for dogs, such as chocolate or xylitol. Also, be aware of any food allergies your dog may have.
- Clean your Kongs regularly: If you don’t you will struggle to get rid of the smell! (yes, this dog trainer left a bag of kongs post puppy class in a box in the car and forgot about them!) You should also clean the Kong toy regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria. Just wash it with warm, soapy water or put it in the dishwasher.
Q: What is a stuffed kong?
A: A stuffed kong is a rubber dog toy called a kong that can be filled with various types of food or treats to keep your dog busy and mentally stimulated as well as help prevent boredom.
Q: How do I stuff a kong?
A: To stuff a kong, simply put your dog's favorite treats or dog food inside the kong. You can use a combination of dry and wet ingredients to make it more enticing for your dog.
Q: What can I use for kong stuffing?
A: You can use a variety of ingredients for kong stuffing, such as dog treats, wet or dry dog food, peanut butter, yogurt, mashed fruits or vegetables, and even leftover cooked meat.
Q: How can stuffing a kong help my dog?
A: Stuffing a kong can help keep your dog engaged and entertained, especially when they are left alone or need a distraction. It can also provide mental enrichment and promote problem-solving skills.
Q: Can I use peanut butter to stuff a kong?
A: Yes, peanut butter is a popular choice to stuff a Kong with, and is a tasty treat for your dog. Just make sure you use dog-safe peanut butter without xylitol, as it can be toxic to dogs. You can also mix peanut butter with other ingredients for added variety, or use it as a glue to help other dry food stick inside the Kong.
Q: How do I clean a kong after it's been stuffed?
A: To clean a kong, simply rinse it with warm water and use a bottle brush or old toothbrush to remove any remaining food or shmutz. Avoid using strong soaps or detergents, as it may leave a residue that could be harmful to your dog. If you wouldn't clean your dishes with it, don't use it on your dog's Kong.
Q: Can I freeze a stuffed kong?
A: Yes, freezing a stuffed kong can make it last longer and provide extra relief for teething puppies. Simply fill the kong with your chosen ingredients and place it in the freezer for a few hours before giving it to your dog.
Q: What are some healthy kong stuffing recipe ideas for my dog?
A: Some healthy kong stuffing ideas include mashed sweet potatoes, steamed carrots, diced apples, frozen blueberries, cooked chicken or turkey, and plain yogurt. Be sure to avoid ingredients that may be toxic to dogs.
Q: Can I give my dog a stuffed kong every day?
A: Yes, you can give your dog a stuffed kong every day as part of their daily routine. Just make sure to adjust their regular meals accordingly to avoid overfeeding, and make sure they're receiving appropriate nutrition.
Q: Is a kong suitable for all dogs?
A: Pretty much! Kongs are suitable for most dogs, regardless of age or breed. Always supervise your dog when they are playing with a Kong for the first time at least, especially if they are strong chewers, to prevent any potential choking hazards.
By following these safety tips, you can ensure that your dog stays safe while playing with their Kong toy.