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Using Food To Enrich Your Dog's Life

Did you know that dogs weren’t designed to eat food out of a bowl every day?

They were designed to hunt, forage, and scavenge.

Did you know that dogs are actually ominvores?

Yes, they ARE carnivores, but they also like to snack on fruits and veggies.

Only providing opportunities for our dogs to eat little brown pebbles out of a bowl can be missed opportunities for dog specific behaviors (like they would do if in the wild and in charge of feeding themselves) and food and mental enrichment (keeps their brains active and engaged and hopefully out of trouble!)

Food Games

There are many different ways and experiences we can provide for our dogs when it comes to food. We can use some (or even all) of their daily food allowance as training rewards and to play games.

Using dog kibble as rewards can be a lowfat, low calorie, money saving option.

Here are a few of my favorite food games to play:

Find It:

  • toss a piece of kibble

  • your dog’s job is to “find” it

  • when they return to you, toss another piece of kibble

Scatter Feeding

  • take a hanful of food and scatter it in the living room, grass, in the leaves, or in the snow

  • your dog will delight in the opportunity to “find” the food

Kibble Trails

  • set up a row of kibble

  • let your dog “find” the food by using their nose

Indiviudal Food Games

These are activities that your dog can do independently (you just need to set them up)

  • Scatter Feeding

  • Kibble Trails

  • Snuffle mats

  • Lickmats

  • Food Puzzle/Release Toys

  • Stuffed Toys/Bones

  • DIY Food Puzzle Toys (great for recycling and if you like diy arts and crafts-great kids activity!)

Provide New Flavors and Textures

  • As long as you do it correctly, you can actually mix or rotate different protein types. Your dog doesn’t just have to eat one protein for the rest of their life (I mix proteins for my cat and he LOVES it-although he is mostly partial to the chicken and salmon varieties). The key is to make sure that you don’t abruptly switch from one brand or protein to another. Do it graudally and mix the foods together.

  • Incorporate fruites and veggies into your dog’s meals or use as a training reward or snack. There are lots of fruits and veggies that are preferctly safe (and healthy) for dogs to eat. You can also swap them out as chewing alternatives (carrots, broccoli, and celery have just the right amount of crunch and some dogs love to gnaw on them-even better if you soak them in broth and throw them in the freezer!)

  • Consider adding some freeze dried and raw components. You don’t have to completely change your dogs diet in order to offer them some variety. Just add some things here and there. There are lots of great meal toppers out there.

  • You can also look at providing appropriate flavor enhancers such as broth or powders that provide different flavor combinations and essential nutrients and vitamins.

If in doubt about anything or if you have any questions, you can always ask your veternarian or a canine nutrition consultant.

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