A snuffle mat is an interactive feeding and scent game. Hide your pup's favourite treats in strips of fabric tied onto a plastic or rubber mat. These mats are an excellent tool to exercise a dog’s mind and slow down their eating habits. By using their keen sense of smell, dogs get to enjoy a scent-based hide-and-seek game designed to keep them stimulated and mentally engaged.
Why are Snuffle Mats Good for Dogs?
Snuffle mats are a great tool to keep your pup engaged and healthy. Providing mental enrichment is important to encourage your dog's natural behaviours and prevent destructive tendencies. Lack of mental stimulation can lead to anxious or undesirable behaviours. Snuffle mats provide benefits such as slowing down eating, encouraging pups to use their senses, reducing anxiety, and burning energy.
1. Aids their Sense of Smell
These mats feature hidden treats within strips of fabric, encouraging your pup to use their incredible sense of smell to locate them. Dogs are world-class sniffers, with up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses. They use their noses to explore the world, gather information about their surroundings, and even recognize people. In fact, dogs have 40 times the brainpower reserved for analyzing smells compared to humans! So, snuffle mats can act as a form of "problem-solving" for your pup, improving their focus and foraging abilities.
2. Helps Reduce Anxiety
Dogs need a lot of mental and physical stimulation, or they may become restless or develop behavioural problems. Fortunately, there's an easy solution that's both fun and engaging for your pup! Snuffle mats are a great way to keep your dog entertained and mentally stimulated, especially when you're busy with other things. Not only do they offer a distraction, but they also provide a healthy sense of challenge and entertainment.
What's more, snuffle mats can even help ease separation anxiety in dogs. If you're having trouble with your dog's anxiety issues, a snuffle mat is a fantastic way to supplement your dog’s exercise routine. It stimulates their senses while they hunt for treats hidden within the mat, which helps to reduce stress and calm nerves.
Of course, snuffle mats shouldn't replace regular exercise, but they can be an excellent addition to your dog's routine. They offer extra mental stimulation, which can help to reduce stress, keep your pup entertained, and supplement their exercise needs.
3. Burns Energy
Snuffle mats are a perfect solution for overly energetic dogs. They provide mental stimulation, create happy hormones through concentrated sniffing, and burn excess energy. Interestingly, dogs burn as much energy mentally stimulating for about 15 minutes, as much as they burn while walking for an hour. This makes snuffle mats ideal for a wide range of dogs - puppies, seniors with limited mobility, or adults with a lot of energy. The best snuffle mats for dogs work multiple senses and keep your pup happily engaged.
4. Slows Down Eating
When your pup eats too fast, it can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, bloating, stomach pain, and even choking. But, lucky for you, using a snuffle mat can help reduce all of these risks by slowing down your pup’s mealtime. When dogs gulp down their food suddenly, they may be unable to digest it properly, resulting in gagging or choking. Unsurprisingly, inhaling large amounts of air can also make your pup gassy, which is never pleasant. The situation can be even more dire when it leads to bloat or GVD (aka gastric dilatation-volvulus), which can twist your pup's stomach or intestines and cut off circulation. This is a life-threatening condition that needs immediate veterinary attention! All of this is why slowing your pup down during mealtime is critical.
Snuffle mats are perfect for:
- High-energy dogs or those suffering from anxiety, including separation anxiety
- Older dogs suffering from cognitive dysfunction or dementia
- Dogs that are scent- or treat-motivated
- Pups that need a little extra training in self-restraint
However, they may not be the best for:
- Destructive dogs, or those more likely to shake the mat than sniff it
- Teaching a pup professional-grade nose work
- Dogs that aren’t motivated by scent or treats
- Pups who prefer wet food; if that’s the goal, try a lick mat instead
Foods to Put in a Snuffle Mat for Dogs
You can use almost any dry dog food in the snuffle mat. Because it's made with fabric, the snuffle mat isn't well-suited for use with wet food. Mixing up the food and smells is best to maximize enjoyment, sniffing and nutrition. Remember to be mindful of how many treats you feed. As always, we prefer homemade treats that we make ourselves rather than buying treats - it is more cost-effective, and you know exactly what your dog is eating.
Dehydrating Fruits & Veg for Snuffle Mats
We love feeding our dogs fresh vegetables and fruit. You can easily dehydrate fruits and veg at home to make healthy single-ingredient treats for your dog in your oven by cutting them into small bite-size cubes or slices. Put the oven at 200 degrees F for 4-8 hours until your desired consistency. Another shortcut is to use your air fryer. Remember to refrigerate after since this isn’t a complete dehydrating process, and there will still be moisture. Here are some fruits and vegetables to try out:
- Sweet Potato
Herbs for Dogs
Check out our recent blog to explore which herbs are best to include. Herbs offer an interesting aroma to dogs which can keep their nose extra interested.
You can include cheese cubes or cooked meat that is on the dry side, such as bacon, as a treat.
- Hard Cheese cubes or shreds
- Bacon (occasionally treat only)
- Dehydrated chicken
- Dehydrated liver
- Fish skins
- Dehydrated fish with no seasoning or salt
Best Treats for Snuffle Mat are Homemade Treats
You can crumble up homemade dog treats such as our peanut butter cookies for dogs.
Can Snuffle Mats be Washed? How to care for your Snuffle Mat:
Snuffle mats can get pretty messy as your dog sniffs out treats. To ensure your pup stays hygienic and safe, it's best to wash it at least once every two weeks - or more if you’re using fresh food. You can toss it in the washing machine on a gentle cycle using an all-natural detergent or give it a good hand wash with dish soap, then let it air dry. Don't forget to shake out the snuffle mat between washes to ensure no treats are left behind!
How to Make Snuffle Mats for Dogs?
Easily create snuffle mats at home! With paper or a towel, simply put treats in and roll up. Also, the grass is a natural snuffle mat. Spread out the food on the grass and let your pup sniff away.
How do Snuffle Mats work?
Snuffle mats are an incredibly useful tool for satisfying your pup's foraging instincts. Here's how to use one in three easy steps:
- Place 3-5 small but tasty treats in the folds of the fabric at the top of the mat, and stay with your dog while they get used to digging them out.
- If your pup starts messing with the snuffle, ask them to sit or use a 'Leave it' command, encouraging them to focus on sniffing the treats by pointing them out.
- Once the treats have been found, repeat the process 1-2 times a day, increasing the difficulty by hiding the snacks deeper in the mat.
Snuffle Tips and Tricks
Our goal is to make sure your dog has a blast with their snuffle mat! Check out these tips on how to make the most of it:
- Full meals are perfect too. Not just good for treats, your dog can enjoy their entire meal using the mat. This will help slow their eating and keep them occupied.
- Burn calories through mental exercise. Only 15 minutes of nose work on the mat is like walking for an hour! Don't underestimate the power of mental exercise.
- Keep it clean. Wash the mat regularly to reduce the risk of bacteria. Quickly shake it out beforehand to remove any food pieces.
- Stay safe. Your dog's safety is important, so supervise to prevent excessive chewing or flipping the mat over.