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How Snuffle Mats Can Function as Slow Feeders

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While some dogs slowly graze and others pick and choose as they seek out their favorite bits of kibble, there’s another type that dives right in and scarfs down food as if he hadn’t eaten in days. And whether its specific to the individual dog or a common trait of an actual breed (take note, Labrador owners), its not good for a number of reasons that extend far beyond the mess they create.

For starters, sudden gorging can result in gagging on wet food or even choking on bits of kibble he hasn’t chewed or broken down. And for dogs that wolf their food in great big gulps, inhaling excess amounts of air means you’re going to be dealing with a gassy pooch in about an hour’s time.

But more serious is the propensity for bloat or GVD (gastric dilatation-volvulus) that can occur when the stomach or intestines suddenly expand from the rapid influx of food, then twist within the abdomen and cut off circulation. Yes, it’s as bad as it sounds and because its a life-threatening condition, it needs immediate attention from a vet.

All of this is why finding a way to encourage your pet to consume his recommended daily food allowance at a safer, slower pace is so important. And while the time-consuming task of hand-feeding your pet may have crossed your mind, there are other, equally effective options that include the use of a snuffle mat.

If you’ve never heard of this device, its really just a super high-pile fabric mat that you sprinkle your pet’s dry kibble across. The bits fall into the pile and your pooch is forced to root around through the tufts to uncover and ultimately eat each piece. Its this engaging yet laborious process that causes him to naturally slow the feeding process down. But there are a number of other reasons why this type of slow-feeder is such a great option for pet owners concerned about their best buddy’s propensity for gorging.

  • It encourages mental stimulation – particularly important for older or ailing dogs that are unable to hit the trails to track interesting scents and uncover fun stuff. They still get to enjoy the satisfying sensation of having worked hard to earn their meal or treat.
  • It’s a great way to fill time when you have to leave your pet for a few hours. Particularly for dogs that suffer from separation anxiety, a snuffle mat loaded with his favorite treats can keep him pre-occupied for as long as it takes to leave the house, get in the car, and quietly exit the driveway.
  • It delivers a rewarding experience because dogs get to do what they do best – sniff, dig, and forage to uncover their meal. And because this type of feeding mat is highly-indestructible, its ideal for the most ardent digger.
  • For brachycephalic dogs that can’t use the deeper puzzle bowls designed to slow food consumption, a snuffle mat is ideal. He can burrow his face as deep as needs be, without injuring his gums or nose. And because of the loose pile, he can breathe while doing so.

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