Month: January 2018

Kong Stuffing: Quick and Easy!

Sometimes I just want a quick and low prep way to stuff a Kong or Squirrel Dude.

Maybe because company’s come over and I would like to give my dog a pacifier to occupy her (kinda like giving a child a coloring book) so she can hang with us without pestering my guests.

Or maybe I’m offering a Kong every day, and I want variety, and some no cook options!

So, here ya go, three super easy, and two super quick stuffing hacks.

1. Kibble Kongs: 

What could be easier than a Kong stuffed with Kibble?   Now, even easier than this method is that the Squirrel Dudes come equipped with small fingers around the opening, this allows you to put dry kibble right in the Squirrel Dude and the kibble will fall out slowely.   Super easy.

However, if you are using a Kong or other type of dispenser with just a plain opening the dry kibble would just fall out, not much fun, and not much enrichment value.

But never fear, you can use something as simple as your dogs dry food kibble and some water to make a kong.

I make about 12 Kongs at once with this method, because I can fit that many in my sink, but you can make a single Kong by dropping the kong into a cup that is slightly larger and deeper than the Kong.

But I use my sink either with, or without, a dish drying rack.

Put your empty Kongs (OK, I refer to all these things as Kongs, but these purple ones are actually Squirrel Dudes) into your cup or, in this case, my sink.   This is a really fast way to make multiple Kongs, because you can NEVER have too many!

If you want to monitor how much kibble you are using here, so you can subtract it from your dogs daily ration, measure how much your toy holds.

I use a funnel made from a 12 oz bottle of soda, this really helps speed this process up!   Worth the $1.50 for a Coke!

Take your homemade funnel and insert the narrow end into the opening of your Kong (or SD) and slowly pour your kibble into the Kong.   If you pour too fast it may clog up, just use a knife or chopstick to dislodge the clog.   Kongs don’t have the projections around the opening, so kibble flows into them easily, but it can take lots of poking to get the kibble into your Squirrel Dude.

Once all your Kongs are full of kibble, and any treats you might want to drop in, fill your cup/sink, with hot water.

Optional: Use low/no sodium broth or bone broth instead of water.

The kibble will soak up the hot water and expand!  When it’s fully expanded (usually takes 30 minutes to an hour) take the kong out of the water, or if you are using a sink like I am, open the drain.  The water will drain away and your Kongs can drain a few minutes before either feeding fresh, or freezeing for use later.

If your dog is a hard core extractor, freeze these, if your dog is a beginner or easily discouraged, feed them fresh. If you feed them fresh let them drain longer, and be aware the stuffing will be moist.

If you like to put a hole through your kong stuffing, to prevent suction, now is the time to run a skewer or chopstick up from the small hole at the top and through the large opening.   Pull out the skewer and the hole should remain, then freeze.

This is super fast, takes me less than 5 minutes to fill 12 toys!

Here is the same thing with all Kongs. The Kongs stand up better if there is a rack to support them.  This is a regular sink sized dish drying rack.

I make kibble Kongs every day because we feed part of our dog’s daily meals from these toys, making kibble kongs is a fast and easy way to keep stuffed toys in your freezer for use whenever needed or wanted.

Tip:  You can drop bit of different things into these kongs when you are filling them, I often use:

Cheese shreds or cubes.
Small dog treats
Ham cubes or other bits of meat.
A few kibbles of dry cat food
A bit of novel kibble.

But honestly, my dogs love these no matter what!

2. Sandwich Kongs.  

These are a super fast and easy way to stuff toys!

You will need:

1. Whatever toy you are stuffing (Kong, Squirrel Dude, Tux)
2. Healthy whole grain bread (read ingredients, avoid artificial sweeteners, raisins, onions, or anything else not safe for dogs to eat).
3. A spread (I use: canned Pate style dog/cat food, peanut butter, cottage cheese, baby food First Meats).

I’m using canned Fromm Gold and peanut butter to stuff these items.

1. Spread your filling on slices of bread just like making a sandwich.
2. Cut the bread into strips.
3. Stuff into your toy or bone!

If I’m stuffing the sandwich slices into something like these Squirrel Dudes, I put a bit of kibble in first, this makes it easier to clean out later.  You can use up to half kibble if you wanted.  I also put a cheese cube in, just for fun.

If you are stuffing the sandwich into a shank bone, stuff one end and then put some kibble in the middle, the middle is hard for most dogs to get to and it’s hard to clean out, the kibble in the middle means the dog can unstuff the end, find the kibble and then unstuff the other end.   Easier to clean and more fun for the dog.

All finished and ready for feeding or freezing.

I also like to stuff this mixture into my West Paws Tux.

This toy is surprisingly difficult to unstuff!

Seriously, sandwich stuffing is super fast and easy to make with items you likely have on hand.   These can be fed fresh or frozen.

3. Canned Kongs!

As long as we are talking about canned dog food, one of the easiest stuffing hacks is just stuffing your bone or Kong with canned dog food.  I’ve stuffed these hooves and bones with canned dog food right from the can.   You can mix the canned food with some kibble too.  Just stuff it in your item, and freeze, I find the canned food too messy for feeding fresh.  Fast, easy!

This is easy for dogs to get out, perfect for puppies or dogs who are new to working for their food this way.

Hooves and Shank bones stuffed with canned dog food.

Now, with these ideas you are ready!   Now, get to stuffing and enrich your dogs life!

Finally, remember, monitor your dog, don’t feed your things it can’t tolerate or is allergic to, don’t feed your dog things that are not safe, like raisins, grapes, or some artificial sweeteners.   Basically, use your due diligence.  These are all foods my dogs tolerate, my dogs have  robust and health gut and so these things never cause them problems.  If you are unsure about your dog, start with a small amount and see.

Kong of the Month: Thanksgiving Leftovers!

I always make kong stuffing out of my Thanksgiving leftovers.   I use whatever safe and appropriate items we have and the dogs get to celebrate along with us.

1. The Turkey carcass.  I strip off all the meat and connective tissue and boil the carcass (I use an 8 quart stockpot) in enough water to cover plus fresh apple cider vinegar (I used 1/4 cup to 10 cups water).  Boil as long as suits you, the vinegar will help release minerals from the bones, these minerals are very healthy for your dog, so the longer you boil the healthier the broth.

Chop any meat you are not going to save for yourself.   The greater the proportion of meat to oatmeal the richer your finished product, so keep your dogs preferences in mind.  If your dog has trouble with digestion, leave the skin out, I’ve used all the skin because my dogs have amazing digestion and I know they won’t have any trouble digesting the fat.

I made extra veggies, I have both cooked green beans and Brussels sprouts.  The sprouts I’ve well cooked, otherwise they are difficult for dogs to digest.  Since my veggies are cooked, I do not boil them with the carcass You can use whatever veggie you want, don’t have any, try mixing in a bag of fresh leafy greens when the end product is hot but done cooking.

Green Beans!  Lightly cooked.

Well cooked Brussels sprouts.

Remove the turkey bones by running your stock through a strainer, be sure to get all tiny bones too!  Then add the chopped meat and veg back to the simmer stock.  Turn off heat!  The rest is done without any heat.

Tip: be sure to finely chop the meat and veg, otherwise it’s hard to get into the kong and hard for your dog to get out.

I’m using Old Fashioned oatmeal, just keep adding until your mixture gets thick.

I also had some stale Cheerios, so those go in too.

Keep adding oats until your mixture is thick and pastey.  Let this mixture cool until you can easily handle it.

Then start stuffing!

This makes a thick and sticky mixture that is HARD for dogs to remove, excellent for expert level de-stuffers!  If your dog isn’t yet level expert at de-stuffing, try stuffing cows hooves (puppies and beginners), hollow shank bones (intermediate), Kongs (intermediate), West Paws Tux (advanced) and Squirrel Dudes (advanced).  This mixture is also suitable for lick mats, and slow feeder bowls.  Offered fresh is easier than if you stuff and offer the item frozen.

Tip: If you are worried about suction forming in the toy when the dog is licking it, at this stage and before freezing, run the stuffing through with a skewer, chop stick, or straw, the hole should run through the toy, and will remain after you remove the skewer.