Puzzle feeders are great fun for our dogs and even provide health benefits. But with so many to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one is best for you and your pet. To help you out, we’ve devised a buying guide of the 12 best dog puzzle feeders.
Let’s take a look at our favorite feeders plus everything you need to know, including the answers to the most frequently asked questions about interactive feeders.
What Are Puzzle Dog Feeders?
Puzzle feeders are structured food bowls and dispenser toys that give pets obstacles to navigate in order to reach their food. They’re popular with owners of cats and dogs who eat too quickly or need a little extra entertainment. Puzzle toy feeders provide positive mental stimulation for pets. Serving as a fun food game and exercising their hunting instincts, puzzle feeders are perfect for clever dogs who bore easily.
Mental stimulation is not only important for your dog’s overall wellbeing, it helps to develop their intelligence, reduce stress, and prevent destructive behaviors that can stem from boredom. Lots of dogs, especially younger ones, also eat far too quickly.
Not only is this a choking hazard, but it results in uncomfortable and painful indigestion, and in extreme cases, a condition called bloat, which is dangerous and can be deadly. Puzzle dog bowls cause pets to slow down at meal times, aiding healthier digestion and preventing further problems.
12 Best Dog Puzzle Feeders
Here are our most recommended puzzle feeders for dogs:
1. Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound – Medium
This plastic feeder by Outward Hound is 12.75 x 9.25 x 2 inches and has four puzzle pieces with flip, lift, and slide components to hide treats in. Furthermore, it’s currently one of the most and best-reviewed dog feeder products on Amazon. However, depending on the dog, it could take around 10 minutes or over an hour to complete.
It is moderately expensive but it challenges your four-legged friend in multiple ways. Whilst the majority of the reviews are positive, some do remind buyers to consider their dog’s personality. It has removable parts, so if your dog can’t be trusted with this or gets frustrated easily, it could pose a hazard. Always supervise your pooch!
2. Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo Bowl
These slow-feeding bowls by Outward Hound offers great dinner time fun. They’re available in three different sizes; small, medium, and large. The plastic bowls also come in five different color and puzzle options including mint wave, blue notch, orange swirl, purple flower, and turquoise drop.
The bowls are relatively inexpensive and slow down eating time by up to 10 times. That said, the product is not recommended for regular use with long-snouted dogs as the ridges can hurt their noses over time, a concern echoed by the otherwise positive reviews.
3. NOYAL Dog Slow Feeder Bowl
This plastic slow-feeding bowl by NOYAL is suitable for small-medium size dogs and is super affordable. It is 5.91 x 5.91 x 1.97 inches and can hold up to 1 ½ cups of food. The design is simple but effective with random ridges as obstacles.
It comes in five colors; red, blue, yellow, orange, and pink, and has four non-slip surfaces to stop it from moving around on the floor. Reviews praise the bowl’s ability to significantly improve pets’ eating habits, and also the easy to clean nature of the product.
4. Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound – Easy
This beginner’s dog puzzle feeder by Outward Hound is ideal for younger pooches; dogs simply need to remove the bone-shaped covers to retrieve their food.
That said, anything with removable parts is not suitable for puppies of teething age or dogs who cannot be trusted not to chew things, as it poses a choking and/or swallowing hazard.
The feeder is 11 x 11 x 1.6 inches in size, plastic, and relatively inexpensive. Reviews praise the feeders’ ability to entertain – and not just dogs! Buyers claim the toy also works for cats, bunnies, even lizards!
5. AWOOF Pet Snuffle Mat for Dogs
This snuffle mat by AWOOF is 7.5 x 7.5 x 4 inches in size and has a surface texture made from environmentally friendly felt cloth that mimics grass. So this allows pets to engage their sniffing skills and exercise their natural foraging instincts. Simply hide some treats inside the grass and go!
The mat is moderately priced & a fantastic physical and mental workout for dogs. Reviews also praise the product’s stress-busting abilities and the fact that it is machine washable. The mat also folds into a portable bag – useful for storage & traveling!
The only caution with this toy is that it should be taken away from pets once all of the treats have been found, as it won’t last long as a chew toy!
6. Neater Slow Feeder
Neater’s slow feeder comes in four colors; gunmetal grey, metallic silver, vanilla, and aquamarine blue, and sports a spikey design for slow-feeding. It comes in two size options; 12.5 x 8.2 x 2 inches which can hold 2.5 cups of food for smaller dogs, and 15.5 x 10.5 x 3 inches which holds up to 6 for larger breeds. There’s also an option that doubles as a water bowl for convenience.
The feeder is moderately priced, non-slip, non-toxic, made in the USA, and dishwasher safe. Reviews praise how easy to clean it is and the effectiveness of the product in reducing the speed of their dog’s eating.
However, some of the reviewers seemed to be under the impression that the plastic feeder was made from metal because of its shiny appearance, so don’t buy it if you’re looking for a metal feeder!
7. Leashboss Slow Feed Dog Bowl
This slow-feeding dog bowl by Leashboss sports a star-shaped design that is effective in piquing interest and relaxing fast-eaters. It is plastic, fairly inexpensive, and comes in two colors; grey and blue.
It’s designed to fit into raised feeding tables, which is useful for older dogs, and reviews of the product praise all aspects of its design.
The bowl is appropriate for small, medium, and large dogs as it comes in three different sizes; small, which holds 1.5 cups of food, medium, which holds 2 cups, and large, which holds 4 cups.
8. The Company of Animals Green Interactive Feeder
This interactive feeder by The Company of Animals can be enjoyed by any sized dog and comes in two options – mini and large. The mini-one is 9.06 x 11.61 x 2.36 inches and the large one is 11.61 x 15.94 x 2.95 inches.
The plastic green feeder’s flat surface has oval-shaped ridges as obstacles, emulating grass on the ground. It nurtures dogs’ basic instincts. Therefore, this keeps them entertained and encourages healthier eating habits.
This feeder is on the expensive side, but it comes highly recommended by reviews, with some calling it the best investment they ever made for their dog.
9. StarMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy
Bob-A-Lot by StarMark comes in two sizes; small at 4.5 x 4.5 x 11 inches and large at 6 x 6 x 8.5 inches. It’s a plastic adjustable treat dispensing ball, with a large chamber that is able to fit whole meals inside it.
The ball wobbles about rather than rolls, making the task more challenging and engaging for dogs. This toy is moderately priced and one of the best-selling dog toys on Amazon. Reviews praise its ability to keep dogs busy, though some do warn buyers that it is not for heavy chewers!
10. Idepet Dog Toy Ball
This ball by Idepdet is made from soft but bite-resistant, non-abrasive, non-toxic, rubber and is about the same size as a standard tennis ball. It features a unique spiky design on its surface.
These spikes hold treats and kibble and serve as treat dispensers, whilst cleaning your dog’s teeth & gums, and providing a fun texture for them to explore.
The ball is 2.48 x 3.11 x 2.68 inches and comes in four colors; red, blue, yellow, and green. Furthermore, it’s super affordable and reviews rave about the product’s value for money, with several calling it their dog’s favorite ball.
However, some do warn that the design, while effective, can take a long time to stuff with food beforehand, and is a pain to clean afterward!
11. Neater Pet Brands Slow Feed Bowl Stainless Steel
This stainless steel bowl by Neater comes in two sizes, a smaller size which fits 1-2 cups of food, and a larger option that fits up to 4 cups of food. A less complex design, the bowl features a single block in the middle and is best suited to dogs with smaller muzzles.
The bowl is durable, dishwasher safe, and does the job according to reviews. It is also designed to fit into most raised feeding tables.
12. Nina Ottosson Feeder by Outward Hound
For extremely clever dogs who need a real test, this interactive feeder is Outward Hound’s most challenging puzzle yet! The plastic puzzle requires dogs to complete four elements in the correct order to get the treats out of it.
Unlike the other toys by Outward Hound, this one doesn’t contain any removable parts, making for an overall safer game. That said, no toy is indestructible, so always keep an eye on your dog when they get something new!
Best Dog Puzzle Feeders – FAQs
You know your dog best. Try to pick a puzzle feeder that is not too hard, or too easy for them to figure out based on their age and personality.
If it’s too difficult, they may feel discouraged and frustrated and not want to do it. On the other hand, when a game is too easy, a dog is likely to find it boring and lose interest. Take the type of feeder into consideration, too. Furthermore, if you’re buying a treat dispenser rather than a bowl, remember that some have removable parts that may not be safe for all dogs.
We also recommend reading reviews of products bought online to see if owners of similar breeds had a good experience with them.
Puzzle feeders are very good for dogs. They slow down food consumption and provide your dog with mental stimulation which enhances their emotional wellbeing and prevents boredom & anxiety.
Eating too quickly is a choking hazard and can cause uncomfortable and painful indigestion.
It can also cause bloat, a life-threatening condition in which the stomach becomes filled with gas and twists in a way that cuts off the blood supply. This will require immediate emergency veterinary examination & treatment. Signs include a bloated belly, retching, and drooling.
Slow–feeding bowls are the best products to help slow down your dog’s eating. They place obstacles in the middle of the food that your dog must navigate in order to reach it.
This slows down the eating process and prevents uncomfortable ingestion. There are many affordable slow feeders available online and in pet stores!
Slow feeders are bowls designed primarily to slow down your dog’s eating during meal times. So puzzle feeders are more toy-like and designed primarily to entertain and challenge your dog.
Puppies tend to eat very quickly because when they are born, they have to scramble over their siblings for milk. So they learn to eat quickly in order to stop others from stealing their food. It may also be an older instinct from their canine ancestors who were constantly challenged for their meals in the wild.
Most dogs grow out of this when they learn that nobody is going to steal their food; they feel safe in their homes with families they trust. But even then, some dogs just never grow out of it!
Slow feeders are ideal for puppies because their little bodies are still growing and developing. Therefore, this could make the potential consequence of eating too fast much higher risk than in adult dogs.
Any dog that eats too quickly and suffers from indigestion as a result, would benefit from a slow feeder. Signs of indigestion include hunching over after eating. Breeds that tend to gulp down their food include Labradors and Beagles.
All dogs will benefit from the mental stimulation and fun of puzzle feeders, but dogs that tend to require a little bit extra mental stimulation include super-intelligent breeds like Border Collies and Poodles.
To teach your dog to use puzzle feeders properly, start them off with an easy or beginner level feeder. Show them how it works before handing it over to them so that they can get the hang of it.
Those are the best dog puzzle feeders! Which is your fave? Will you be purchasing one of our top picks for your pup? Let us know and make surer you look at our automatic dog feeders!