Best Snuffle Mats For Dogs
Want to know which snuffle mat is the best for your four-legged furbaby? Here are our picks for the best snuffle mats for dogs.
The idea for the snuffle mat came from a bunch of dog-lovers in the Netherlands who knew that dogs like to use those smart little brains of theirs. Snuffle mats, at the core, are mats that allow the dogs to find dry food or treats that you’ve hidden. That means that with a snuffle mat you’re feeding your dog while also letting their brain be stimulated as they savour their food. It turns feeding time into a stimulating activity. A game that will make them grateful for their treats. Sure, it sounds a little silly, but it’s amazing just how much pups love these things. Yours will be no exception.
Think about it. If your dogs are like mine, meal time is the highlight of their day and it’s over in about 3.7 seconds flat. Dogs don’t exactly take the time to dig in and appreciate their food, no matter how much they love it. That’s just not how pups work. So, a snuffle mat is a perfect way to extend food and playtime for your pup every day. This is an ideal product for those chowhounds who wolf their food down and it doubles as excellent stimulation for their brains too! What’s not to love?!
Why Does Your Dog Need A Snuffle Mat?
A snuffle mat isn’t just great for dogs who wolf their food down, though there is THAT. There are several other benefits, though!
- Brain Stimulation: Dogs need mental stimulation. Plain and simple. They’re evolved from hunters, and they really do like challenges. Yes, even the lazy sofa loungers like to reach their inner dog every now and then. It’s their instinct to want to do a job or do something productive, so a snuffle mat can make them feel challenged. Having a treat in a different place in the mat will leave them feeling excited at the ‘hunt’ and can give them some fun in an otherwise possibly routine day.
- Hones Foraging: Speaking of hunting, a snuffle mat will appeal to their inner forager. Dogs have SUPER senses of smell, and they are natural foragers. A snuffle mat means they can enjoy honing those skills as they search for treats, and you can even use it for training puppies with something productive.
- Gets The Energy Out: You may think that a snuffle mat would only encourage frantic hunting for treats, but…did you know that in just 15 minutes of active sniffing, your dog may be CALMED down?! That’s right. Letting your dog actively sniff out treats for just 15 minutes could give them the same activity/calorie burn as you would if you took them on an hour-long walk, and that can make for calm, peaced out pups! Perfect for cold days or bad weather days too!
- Slows Your Speed Eaters Down: Most dogs are motivated by food. And that means that most of them are voracious eaters. They will inhale their food because they love it. Or they feel like they love it. But eating too quickly isn’t healthy, and can lead to choking, regurgitation, vomit, and other digestive issues. And it can also lead to obesity, which is never good. Making your dog use a snuffle mat to eat means he has to purposely seek food out, and that takes time. Plus, he won’t be able to inhale the food, as the nubs on a mat will slow him down and help him digest his food better too. It is a great solution for slowing the pace of eating, and making each new meal a rewarding and hard earned experience.
- Help Dogs Who May Have Movement Issues:Senior dogs or dogs who are injured or may have chronic issues may not be able to play with all the toys. But, snuffle mats are more brain challenges that feel like play, but don’t tax a dog’s mobility to do so. For dogs who have had surgery or injury, a snuffle mat is a great way to keep them stimulated without moving and risking additional injury. And for seniors who may have a hard time with treat-dispensing toys, a snuffle mat lets him stay in on the fun too. The mat provides fun and mental stimulation, but is not at all challenging in terms of too much movement. While young dogs can spare the energy to dig in and rummage through the mat with greater force, the seniors can recover them in their own time, at their own pace.
1. Editor’s Pick: Paw5 Wooly SnuffleMat
This is a tried and true snuffle mat that has plenty of positive reviews. Not only is the Paw5 Wooly Snuffle Mat guaranteed to keep your dog entertained throughout any meal, the mat is also a breeze to keep clean (which isn’t always the case with these products). The Paw5 Wooly is easy to fill, machine washable, and will have your dogs foraging every now and then on the off-chance that they may left something behind at breakfast! It’s one of our faves and your dog will feel the same way. Simple, but undeniably effective.
2. Runner Up: Beehive Snuffle Mat
It’s time to put you dog’s brain to the test. This snuffle mat stimulates your dog’s foraging instinct and satisfies his nosing sense by mimicking the hunt for food in nature. It won’t be easy to get at all the food hidden inside the beehive, but your pup will have so much fun finding it. If you need to go large, get a couple and put them together for an even bigger challenge. That’ll keep the pooch busy for hours.
3. Best Challenging: AWOOF Snuffle Mat
For those real smart cookies and pooches that need a more challenging puzzle to stay occupied- or eat their meal at a slower pace- this advanced design is just the thing. AWOOF Snuffle Mat has plenty of nooks and crannies for your furry brainiac to explore and figure out during playtime or meal time. The center is a big flower with 4 layers of petals that can hide larger treats and a range of smaller pockets for a more challenging scavenger hunt and tinier yummies. To boost the fun factor, there are even a few crinkly and squeaking petals randomly added- just to keep your pooch on his paws. Made from durable and colorful Oxford cloth and plush ametabolic polar fleece, this snuffle mat is not just fun to play with but actually really well-made, so you can count on it to endure all that scratching and nose dives with ease. To boot, it is also machine washable, so when your little gremlin manages to mess it up, just toss it with the laundry and it will be as good as new.
4. Best for Nose Explorers: LIVEKEY Pet Snuffle Mat
A mid-range challenge when difficulty is considered, this snuffle mat is a good choice both for newbie nose explorers and those that have a bit more experience. LIVEKEY Pet Snuffle Mat has a challenging center made out of tassels or ribbons if you wish, where you can hide kibble and let your dog use their nose to locate it and eat it- perfect for greedy eaters. On the sides, there are 6 bowls for treats, each with double-layered walls where you can hide more delicious goodies, and they are a good first step for your pet to figure out how snuffle mats work. Made from super soft fleece and with an anti-slip bottom, this practical snuffle mat is both machine washable and dryable.
5. Best for Foragers: SniFFiz Smelly Matty
This is the perfect mat for a high-drive forager who is constantly looking for some serious brain work. You can actually control the difficulty level for your dog when hiding their food or treats. With no less than five different ways to keep them forging, it would be possible to create a different food finding adventure for almost every meal. There’s a lot of versatility in this snuffle mat. It will help stimulate you furbaby’s brain with all its different patterns.
6. Best Non-Slip: Shy Coyote Snuffle Mat
We love the color and design of this giant dessert flower snuffle mat that provides various stimulating sounds hidden through out the mat. There is a squeaker toy, bell, and crinkle fabric embedded into the sniffing pad that we are sure your dogs will love. There are also five small side cups for giving treats directly. There are so many options to hide the food you can really keep your dog guessing! But the snuffle challenge level is always up to you. The whole mat has a non slip grip pad on the bottom and is safe to clean in your washer. First be sure to first shake out any food your dog might have missed during their last snuffle.
7. Best Theme: SlowTon Dog Snuffle Mat
This snuffle mat scores! Soccer fans will love this snuffle mat that looks just like a footie field. One thing is for sure: your dog will score ever time dinner is served by using his nose to explore and discover the hidden kibble.
8. Best Soft Mat: DiffLife Activity Mat
This is yet another soft, fuzzy, and furry means to feed your pup the food they crave in an entertaining and decorative manner. Even better, this carefully thought out design is made entirely from sustainable products, allowing you to buy it guilt free! The mat also comes in medium and large and is machine-washable.
9. Best for Young Dogs: Dononna Wooly Snuffle Mat
If you’ve got a young, energetic, and easily bored dog, this is a great mat for them because it not only encourages natural foraging instincts, but it has lots of other activity opportunities for your pup to engage in to settle frustration and anxiety from boredom. It’s a little activity mat that your dog puppy may even enjoy when there aren’t tasty treats concealed within. The Dononna Wooly Snuffle Mat is also sustainably made with upcycled pieces. A mat that is sure to keep your furry forager engaged and having fun.
10. Best Cute Design: IFOYO Feeding Mat
We adore this cute-as-a-bug-in-a-rug mat! It’s adorable enough to look like a cute decoration and perfect for the small-medium dog in your life who might need to learn to eat just a tad bit daintier than wolfing down their meals. It’ll keep them stimulated with all the fun fluffs to look through, even outside of mealtime!
11. Best Colorful: Vannon Pet Snuffle Mat
With its sea world theme, Vannon Pet Snuffle Mat features all kinds of fun additions for your pet’s nose to explore. The treat-hiding pockets are shaped like aquatic creatures- starfishes, clown fishes, octopus, and sea plants all made of fleece and designed to hold small yummies for your pooch to find. Well-made and durable, this snuffle mat is made from a combination of materials- 300D Oxford cloth, fleece for the snuffling parts, anti-slip PVC on the bottom and it is also filled with foam. Even so, this snuffle mat is really low-maintenance as it is both machine washable and tumble dryer safe. Foldable and with velcro straps attached, this snuffle mat is also easy to store away when not in use- and it doesn’t take up much space. This snuffle mat measures 23.5 x 23.5 inches, so it’s a good fit for small to medium dogs.
Want to Try Making Your Own Snuffle Mat?
If you’re interested in how to make a snuffle mat of your own, there are a lot of DIY tutorials online. No matter what, though, be prepared to put in quite a bit of work and time to make a snuffle mat that will function as it should and be durable enough to withstand your dog playing with it.
For many pet owners, it’s simply a lot easier to purchase a pre-made snuffle mat, as there are so many high-quality options to choose from and they aren’t expensive. But if you really want to give making your own snuffle mat a go, here’s a basic breakdown of what’s involved
- Gather your materials. These include a rubber sink mat and upwards of 1½ yards of fleece that isn’t too thick (you don’t want it to be hard to thread through the mat and tie into knots). For a medium-sized dog, a rubber mat that measures around 12”x15” might suffice, but if you have a bigger dog, you’ll likely need to get one that’s even larger. The same holds true for the fleece, as you might need more than this amount if you’re making a bigger snuffle mat.
- Once you have all of your materials ready to go, the next step involves cutting up the fleece so you have a lot of strips that are roughly 1” to 1½ ” wide. The strips should also be a decent length, such as 7”, so you have enough to work with. You could vary the length and width of these strips so you have strips of different sizes when you’re done. How many strips will you need, though? Well, it depends, but don’t be surprised if you need more than 250 strips to get the job done right.
- Now you’re ready to put it all together. Take one end of one of the strips and push it through the first hole in the mat. The other end of the same strip should be pushed through the hole that’s next to the first hole. Then, you’ll need to flip the mat and tie the strip with one knot. Next, you’ll take another strip and put it through the second hole, next to the first strip, before pushing the other end of that strip through the next hole on the mat. Turn the mat over again and knot that one. Follow this process until you have two of the mat’s rows filled with strips.
- Next, grab another strip, pushing it through your first row’s first hole, and taking the other end of it and pushing it through the second row’s first hole. Turn the mat over, knot the strip, and then keep going until your first two rows are done in this manner.
- You’ll need to repeat these steps until you’ve filled in your mat. Then, you’re done!
Making your own snuffle mat can be a nice way to spend some time making something nice for your furry friend. But if this seems like it’s too much work, our list of the best snuffle mats will help you find the perfect product to purchase. It’s entirely up to you and no regardless of which option that you choose, these mats are guaranteed to improve the life of any pup!
What should I consider when choosing snuffle mats?
The main things to consider are your pet’s unique traits - size, play style, and their habits. For instance, some dogs might need a more challenging design that’s more difficult to navigate through to stay engaged, whereas others only do well with a simple snuffle mat that is not too puzzling. Another thing to consider is if you are getting a snuffle mat to serve as a slow feeder or to promote nosework or both and choose the design accordingly. Last but not least, you should consider that the material is durable and easy to clean- the snuffle mat is bound to get messy so you want one that is low maintenance. Thankfully, there are a lot of unique snuffle mat designs out there, with different levels of intricacy. Observe your pet’s eating and play habits, and choose accordingly!
How to clean snuffle mats?
As is the case with most dog toys and accessories, dirt, bile, hair, and nasty bacteria can quickly get accumulated if you do not clean it often. Bits of food, saliva, and other grime are certain to build up on the snuffle mat with time and that can cause all sorts of nastiness to appear. To prevent this, you need to clean your pet’s snuffle mat regularly. Most snuffle mats can be machine washed, which is a great advantage - it is almost effortless and it deep cleans any leftover dirt after playtime or mealtime. Still, don’t forget to check out the material before purchase, and make sure that it can be cleaned easily, preferably in the machine for your convenience. If your snuffle mat is hand clean only, make sure you reach into all the nooks and crannies and folds – any little bit of filth that is left over will be a ripe breeding ground for bacteria and those nasty microscopic critters.
Are snuffle mats safe?
Owners have a right to be worried about their pet’s safety when buying new and unique accessories. But there really is nothing to worry about with a snuffle mat. Not only that snuffle mats are safe for dogs, but they provide many benefits as well. As long as you keep them clean (to avoid bacteria and mold), a snuffle mat is completely safe to use for dogs of all sizes and ages. Of course, it goes without saying that this implies regular use: if your pet is prone to aggressive chewing, you shouldn’t leave them unsupervised with the snuffle mat as they might get carried away and bite off and swallow pieces of the mat. Remember to keep it clean and hygienic, and there won’t be any threat to your dog’s health.
More by Lori Ennis