A Kong is a tough, hollow, rubber cone designed to be filled with food. Kongs come in different sizes, are freezer proof, and are extremely resilient to being chewed. For powerful chewers, the black Kong is recommended. Red is for normal chewers, and for older dogs and puppies, multi-coloured, softer rubber Kongs are available. A dog should be supervised for the first few times that it is given a Kong, and unless a dog proves that it can destroy it, it is probably the safest activity toy to leave with a dog whilst alone.

I have yet to meet a dog who doesn't show any interest in a tasty filled Kong. Some dogs take a little time to really get into the 'zone' of licking out all the filling, but all quickly realise that Kongs are wonderful things. Many dogs who tend towards anxiety develop licking compulsions towards themselves and surfaces such as floors and walls. Licking is a comforting, stress-reducing activity, and using a Kong to encourage but redirect this behaviour into an acceptable and even more rewarding outlet can really help to put socially insecure dogs at ease.

A Kong is a great way to introduce a puppy to being left on its own and to view its owner's departure as a good thing. The same applies to adult dogs who are prone to separation distress, as part of a rehabilitation programme. For dogs who are convalescing and need to have their physical activity restricted, splitting the daily food ration into four smaller meals and feeding each in a Kong is a great way to provide rewarding, alternative activity and not overload the body with too much food in one go. For dogs who tend towards anxious excitement when visitors call, a Kong smeared with something tasty inside can provide a useful distraction.

A number of things that dogs find tasty that can be smeared inside a Kong to provide a quick, two-minute distraction include peanut butter, cream cheese, meat and fish pastes, Marmite and Bovril.

There are special pastes and biscuit type products available to stuff into Kongs, however, cheap and healthy alternative fillings are extremely easy to make. A portion of a dog's daily kibble ration, cooked white rice or cooked, mashed sweet potato all provide a good base to which 'extras' can be added such as foods that promote good digestive health, foods that can help to calm separation distressed dogs, and foods that provide a vitamin or protein boost.

About 50% of dogs are lactose intolerant meaning that they cannot digest lactose, a sugar that is found in milk, yoghurt and cheese. Lactose-intolerant dogs are often very flatulent and may produce softer than normal faeces. If you suspect that your dog is lactose-intolerant, it is better to avoid feeding yoghurt and cheese as whilst the foods in themselves aren't harmful, the abnormal bacteria activity within the dog's gut can lead to bacteria imbalances and malabsorbtion of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

Foods to avoid because they are toxic to dogs include chocolate, grapes, raisins, sultanas and onions. Watch out for 'hidden' sources of onion too - stock cubes often contain onion and are very high in salt, so are best avoided.

Kongs can also be filled with water or cooking stock and frozen in hot weather. As well as being a cooling and soothing treat for teething puppies, this is a great way to provide liquid to dogs that need to be crated when left.

To prepare and freeze a liquid-filled Kong:

  1. Plug the small end of the Kong with a good-sized lump of peanut butter. You could also use a piece of cheese or sausage to do this, so long as it provides a good seal.
  2. Next, place the Kong, small end down, into a mug.
  3. Fill the up-turned Kong with liquid.
  4. Put the mug into the freezer.
  5. When the liquid is frozen, the Kong is ready to serve.

Of course a Kong doesn't have to be filled with liquid to be frozen. Any stuffed Kong can be frozen, and a frozen filling will provide a longer-lasting treat.


Here are just a few Kong stuffing recipe ideas.

Ingredients: A portion of your dog's normal kibble, about a teaspoon of meat paste, a chunk of banana (about an inch thick).
Method: Half fill the Kong with kibble, then add the meat paste. Using the handle of the spoon, mix the meat paste into the kibble. Add some more kibble, packing it in well, and then plug the large opening with the banana.
Food Fact: Banana is a 'pre-biotic' food, which means it provides a good nutritional base to feed the dog's friendly gut bacteria and so promote good digestive health.

Ingredients: A portion of your dog's normal kibble, about a dessertspoon of cottage cheese, a chunk of banana (about an inch thick).
Method: Half fill the Kong with kibble, then spoon in most of the cottage cheese. Holding your hand over the large opening, shake the Kong to coat the kibble in the cottage cheese. Add some more kibble, packing it in well, then top with the remainder of the cottage cheese before plugging the large opening with the banana.
Food Fact: Cottage cheese contains a good source of the protein amino-acid 'casein', which the body converts into naturally occurring opioids that have a calming effect. This is especially useful to help separation distressed dogs to feel more relaxed when alone. Bananas are also thought to have a calming effect too.

Ingredients: Warm freshly boiled white rice, warm freshly steamed and mashed sweet potato, about a dessertspoon of peanut butter.
Method: Mix and mash together the rice and sweet potato and peanut butter. Fill the Kong with the mix and it's ready to serve. Alternatively, wait until the rice and sweet potato has cooled before making the mix and then freeze the Kong to use later. When frozen this mix seems to last for hours, so it's a great boredom buster, especially on long car journeys.
Food Fact: Sweet potato is a great source of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted by the body into vitamin A and acts as powerful antioxidant, helping to support immune system health.

Ingredients: Banana, a small handful of blueberries, natural yoghurt.
Method: Mash or blend the banana, blueberries and yoghurt together in a bowl. Place the Kong, small end down, in a mug, and spoon in the mix. Place in the freezer and serve when frozen.
Food Fact: Blueberries are high in antioxidants and vitamin C, and can help to support cardiovascular and urinary tract health.

Ingredients: 1 scrambled egg, 1 chopped Frankfurter or hot-dog sausage, boiled white rice.
Method: Mash the scrambled egg and rice together in a bowl and then mix in the chopped sausage. Fill the Kong, using a chunk of sausage to plug the end.
Food Fact: Egg is 100% nutritionally complete, meaning that it contains all the protein-amino acids that the body needs.

TUM-EASE ~ Thanks to Carole Green (owned by Cody) for this recipe suggestion.
Ingredients: Cold boiled white rice, about a dessertspoon of natural bio-yoghurt.
Method: Mix and mash the rice and yoghurt together and fill the Kong. Serve straight away or freeze for later.
Food Fact: The blandness of boiled white rice coupled with the 'friendly' bacteria in natural bio-yogurt makes this a great recipe for dogs with sensitive tummies.

PUMPKIN PIE ~ Thanks to Eryka Kahunanui (owned by Bizzle Fo’ Shizzle and Sarah Bean) for this recipe suggestion.
Ingredients: Pureed pumpkin, tahini paste (or peanut butter).
Method: Mix together the pureed pumpkin and tahini paste and fill the Kong. Serve straight away or freeze for later.
Food Fact: Tahini (sesame butter) is a good source of calcium and zinc, minerals essential for healthy bones.


Copyright Lizi Angel 2007-2015