I love trying new and different products and toys on Milly. I have fun finding out what works, and what doesn’t, and sharing my findings with you, my readers. I have a handful of favorite dog products, and one of them is the Kong – a plastic toy with a hole on each end (a large one to add the treats, and a small hole to allow airflow so the Kong does not create a suction cup when the dog sucks or chews on it). I actually have two Kongs, so one is always ready to use.
When I first got Milly she didn’t really play… those of you who know Milly will probably be shocked reading this. I really had to teach her how to have fun and how to use toys and eat treats, but now she’s a playing monster that lives for her toys. One of the first products I bought for her was a Kong, and some Kong paste (it comes in a bottle and you squeeze it into the Kong… kind of like cheese wiz), which at the time she wanted nothing to do with it (I bought the breath freshening kind in the beginning... and it just isn't as tasty to doggies as the liver paste or peanut butter paste). She’s come a long way, because the Kong is one of her favorite treats now… I think she just needed time to feel safe, and I needed to make it more enticing.
I made the novice mistake of only using Kong paste in it when I bought that first Kong... which is enticing enough for some dogs, but just didn’t do it for Milly at the time. Now, I keep some Kong paste on hand for when I’m in a rush, but I rarely use it. The reason I love the Kong so much is the possibilities are endless, and it’s a treat/busy toy that keeps Milly occupied for a long time. I love to give her a Kong when I leave for work in the morning, and this daily treat has really eased her separation anxiety. She now looks forward to me leaving, because she knows she will get a Kong.
One of Milly’s favorite Kong treats is when I smear some peanut butter inside the Kong (I use all-natural so it doesn’t have added sugars). You can simply smear the peanut butter inside the Kong and give it that way, but if you want it to last longer, smear some peanut butter in the Kong and freeze it for a few hours. This way you can use less peanut butter, and the dog will take at least double the amount of time to lick it all out. Try sticking a dog biscuit or a vegetable like a carrot stick out of the end of the Kong for a fun different flavor and texture. While a frozen peanut butter Kong is a favorite in my household, it is packed with extra calories, which will quickly add pounds to your pup’s waist line if fed regularly. I now reserve peanut butter for special occasions, or as a weekly treat.
Another favorite is to create a doggie “ice cream” by combining non-fat plain yogurt (I use organic), water, a small amount of honey (optional), and a mix-in like canned pumpkin (make sure it’s 100% pumpkin, and not pumpkin pie mix), a mashed up banana, a little peanut butter, or some kibble. I then put peanut butter in the small hole of the Kong to create a stopper, and pour the mixture in and freeze it (you can put the Kong in a glass or a zip-lock baggie to freeze, and you can cover the big hole with peanut butter to seal that as well). This is a very high value treat, and another one with lots of calories, so it’s not one to feed on a regular basis.
I like to feed canned pumpkin on a regular basis, because it aids in digestion and helps prevent impacted anal glands (it also firms up a dog’s poop). While I can simply scoop some canned pumpkin onto Milly’s food it’s more fun to make it a treat by scooping it into the Kong and either giving it to her like that, or freezing it so it lasts longer. I’ve found with the pumpkin if I stuff a “pill pocket” into the small end of the Kong it will keep it from leaking. Pumpkin is a great low calorie reward to give in the Kong. I’ve also cut in half the amount of canned food Milly gets with her kibble and now feed her half of her canned food portion in the Kong, again, you can freeze it to make it last longer, or just scoop it in the Kong and give it that way. Milly loves fruit, and oranges, apples, and bananas are some of her favorites. I will sometimes slice an orange (peeled) and stuff a few slices in the Kong, or cut an apple slice thick so it sticks out of the Kong, or stuff half a ripe banana in the Kong.
Just remember when feeding Kongs or any treats that these will add extra calories to your dog’s diet. So feed accordingly.
If you are in the market for a Kong make sure you purchase them sized for the largest dog you own, as a large dog could easily choke on a too small Kong. There are all sorts of options for dogs chewing styles from teething puppies to seniors, and even extra strong Kongs for powerful chewers (the strongest Kong is available from vets only).
Do you have any favorite Kong recipes? The possibilities are simply endless! I’m sure I’m leaving out lots of them. This is a product that I was so happy to invest in, and an added bonus is they are dishwasher safe. Milly loves her Kong so much we even play fetch with it (sans treats) on occasion.