For a lot of pet parents, taking care of their furbaby is more than just keeping them fed, fit, and watered. Dogs need mental enrichment too. They need fun, entertaining activities that will keep their brains working and their wanderlust quenched. That’s where a snuffle mat comes in.
Dog owners can fulfill this need in numerous ways with the multiple enrichment toys for pets on today’s market, but one of the most popular enrichment toys for dogs right now are snuffle mats. Snuffle mats are new on the scene and are more than first impressions might lead you to believe. Beyond that, a snuffle mat might just be precisely what your furbaby needs to stay mentally active.
Multiple items often make the pet accessory market an overwhelming place. While it can be a challenge to sniff out the great products from the ones that might become a dog’s breakfast within a few minutes, research can point you in the right direction. Today, we’re taking a look at what the research says about snuffle mats and why dogs everywhere are going crazy for them!
What is a Snuffle Mat?
While there is nothing cuter than seeing your pup dig around before they fall asleep, snuffle rugs offer more than just a cozy spot to rest on.
A snuffle mat is made with loose fabric and hidey-holes that create the perfect stimulation for your pet to find their treats, putting both their brain and their belly to work, making for a happier and healthier pup every day.
Manufacturers use durable fleece, cloth, or wooly fabric for snuffle mats, and the best products are washable too.
In this article, we’ll explore why every dog should have a snuffle mat, the incredible benefits they provide, and how to use them for your dog’s mental enrichment. But first, let’s take a look at the top snuffle mats on the market today.
The Best Snuffle Mat on the Market
Let’s take a look at the top three snuffle mats in 2020. These snuffle mats are in a league of their own, with glowing reviews and plenty of happy customers singing their praise!
1. PAW5 Wooly Snuffle Mat
PAW5’s Wooly Snuffle Mat is top-dog when it comes to these popular, mentally-enriching rugs, and our top choice when it comes to snuffle mats for dogs.
This mat is perfect for any breed and any size. It’s especially perfect for breeds like bulldogs who aren’t able to use traditional puzzle feeders because of the shape of their muzzle.
Each snuffle mat is sustainably handmade by one of Paw5’s global community partners, who use non-toxic and safe materials.
It’s the highest rated snuffle mat for dogs on Amazon, and it’s no wonder why! Pet parents all over the world are singing this snuffle mat’s praises.
Here are just some of the glowing reviews currently on Amazon:
“This is such a great idea for dogs!!! My trainer recommended it because my German Shepherd loves to work for EVERYTHING. She LOVES to “Forage” for her food in her snuffle mat. Every time I take it out, she gets SO excited.”
“Rumi, my 12 year old Boston Terrier, went INSANE for this thing! He’s never been a very food motivated dog, and I struggle often to get him to eat regularly. I sprinkle his regular amount of dry food all over the mat, and when he’s hungry, he just goes to it and snorts around eating everything!”
“I have a Golden who always ate really quickly. I enjoy watching him work on getting his food now. I shake it out when he is done and he has never missed one piece of kibble. Very pleased.”
One of the things we love about the PAW5 Wooly Snuffle Mat is that it could fit the aesthetic of any home with its modern grey color. The mat looks just like a shaggy rug, with the simple difference being that the strands are thicker and stiffer.
The simple design allows you to sprinkle your pet’s meal onto the rug without any extra effort. While your hound sniffles around, the food falls deeper into the mat, making their mealtime an invigorating endeavor. Placing the food closer to the surface will make it easier for short-snouted pets to find their treats too.
The cotton and polyester blend makes it easier to clean than its fleece competitors. While it doesn’t have a non-slip base, reviewers didn’t complain of much movement. In fact, the absence of a base actually makes it easier to wash and dry.
The PAW5 team creates unique products for our canine friends. The PAW5 wooly puzzle designs are supported by research to guarantee the involvement of all five of your dog’s senses. PAW5 also offers 15% off your first product purchase when you sign up for their newsletter.
2. AWOOF Snuffle Mat
The AWOOF Snuffle Mat provides a challenge for your intelligent pet. The design is intricate and offers variation in how you can hide your pet’s treats. When opened up, the design looks like a giant orange and green flower with four layers of petals and an outer ring of “grass.”
On each corner of the mat, little pockets, cups, and webs of fabric create a feeding game that will keep your pup’s nose entertained for the long-haul. Altogether, there are six different ways in which to hide tasty morsels.
While stimulating your pet’s nose, they will also enjoy the sounds of added bells, ringing paper, and a BB call in the middle. The AWOOF Snuffle Mat is perfect for home or away as it folds up neatly and secures with a buckle. It also has a feature that allows you to secure it to furniture if your vigorous pet likes to turn the mat over during their hunt.
Thick oxford cloth and metabolic polar fleece fabric make up the AWOOF dog mat. Materials are of high quality, non-toxic, durable, and odorless. The dog feeding mat is machine washable.
3. SniFFiz SmellyMatty
Countless hiding spots of the SniFFiz SmellyMatty provides extended play for your furball. If you have a large dog, then it will be able to contain all their food without you having to top it up to complete their meal allowance.
The best part of this mat is that you can purchase an additional five puzzle feature for extended play when your pet no longer finds it challenging. You can start your pet on the simple layout and slowly increase the difficulty levels by adding the puzzles one by one. With the added mysteries, playtime can be extended to up to forty minutes, combating boredom and stress.
The SniFFiz SmellyMatty has eleven dense grass and petal layers, made from durable oxford and soft polar fleece fabric. The hidden pockets behind each petal will challenge your pet’s problem-solving ability. It has a non-slip bottom to avoid active nuzzlers from shoving the mat around your floor. The rug is machine washable.
Why Your Dog Needs a Snuffle Mat
Now that we’ve reviewed the top snuffle mats for dogs on the market, let’s take a closer look at why dogs need a snuffle mat and the incredible benefits these mats can provide to our canine companions.
The fact of the matter is that dogs are natural-born foragers. Even if you don’t have a typical hunting breed, most dogs will sniff out a tasty morsel.
Many pet owners are familiar with the excitement their dog experiences when it’s supper time. Taking your furry family member for a walk can initiate the same flamboyance as they enter the outdoors filled with sights, smells, and fun.
Your canine friend needs a snuffle mat for many reasons. It creates a platform for play, slow eating, and mental stimulation.
Eliminate the Consequences of Speedy Eating
Dogs who seem to inhale their meals can concern their owners. Bloat, (formally known as Gastric dilatation-volvulus) is a serious health condition where the intestines or stomach expand and can twist in the dog’s abdomen. Inhaling excessive air while gulping down their meal can cause this severe condition. A dog’s body can go into shock, and the condition can even be fatal.
Any dog breed can experience bloat, but it is statistically common in deep-chested breeds, dogs who are overweight, and those who are notoriously speedy guzzlers.
A standard recommendation to prevent bloat is to feed your greedy friend smaller portions or to introduce a slow-feeding tool, such as food puzzles and slow-feeding bowls.
A snuffle mat, however, is another great option! Snuffle rugs encourage your pet to uncover their food. As a result, they will eat at a slower pace, reducing the risk of bloat.
Combat Boredom in Your Pup
A bored dog can succumb to nasty habits such as barking, digging, and chewing.
Avoid this behavior with stimulating play, made even better by tasty dog treats. A snuffle mat creates excitement and reward for even the most hyperactive dog.
Make your pet work for their food – it is, after all, in their DNA to hunt, and their sense of smell can enjoy a little challenge!
A Snuffle Mat Provides Entertainment for Physically Challenged Dogs
Our canine companions are more skilled than us when it comes to sniffing out some tasty morsels. A dog’s nose possesses up to 300 million olfactory receptors, while mere humans only have six million.
So even if your geriatric companion has lost their sight, a snuffle mat will brighten their day and allow them the opportunity to show off some superior senses.
Should your dog be in recovery from surgery and unable to run for their favorite ball, the snuffle mat will encourage some stimulation in their dreary day.
How to Use a Snuffle Mat
Using a snuffle mat is simple.
For most designs, all you need to do is scatter your pup’s favorite kibble onto the rug and let them do the rest.
Some more intricate designs will require a bit more effort to hide the food into every nook and pocket.
Keep It Clean!
When your dog is hungry and excited, their slobber is enough to put you off your meal. So imagine how messy the snuggle mat can become when you have a drooly dog!
Following meals, give the rug a shake outside to loosen any undiscovered morsels.
For a washable snuffle mat, you can throw it straight into your washing machine or into a pillowcase and then into the washer.
Wash your dog’s feeding mat at least once every two weeks, or more regularly if you have a heavy drooler.
Don’t Leave Your Dog Unattended
To discourage chewing or excessive licking, make sure you are nearby when your pet is foraging for their meal.
Remove the snuffle mat as soon as they are finished. A destructive pet who is prone to chewing could loosen material strips, which can be a choking hazard.
Observe your puppy while they use the snuffle mat and discourage any chewing.
Snuffle Mat DIY: How to Make a Snuffle Mat
When it comes to making a DIY snuffle mat, you can choose something with a difficulty level that you have the energy or desire to take on.
If you love a craft that requires all the bells and whistles, then you can find something challenging and complicated.
Alternately, if you’re a thrifty crafter who simply wants to get the job done, then there is always something less complex for you.
Consider Your Pet’s Personality
You can create a complicated puzzle that will put your curious terrier’s foraging tactics to the test.
But if you think that your lazy Pug will lose interest, then sticking to a simple grass-like design will be better.
You need to decide what will work for your dog’s personality (and your skillset or schedule).
Beginner-level DIY Snuffle Mats:
Snuffle mat DIY materials include a rubber sink mat and some fleece strips.
Once you’ve spent some time firmly securing the fabric strips with some knots, your snuffle mat is ready for its first scattering of kibble.
Similar designs are straightforward, popular, and easy to make. Your dog will enjoy sniffing around until the last morsel.
Expert-level DIY Snuffle Mats:
Make a second rug for some variety or try your hand at a snuffle rug that has a few additional hidey-holes.
Amika, the crafter from InfiniTidy, will inspire you with her creative Sniffing Puzzle Mat. This rug design includes extra flaps and shapes that will encourage your dog’s wet little nose to explore every inch of their fun rug.
Hiding their food will require a bit of effort, but if you’re willing to sew a snuffle mat for your pooch, then hiding their dog treats will be an extension of that labor of love.
Make sure your DIY rug is easily washable and that the strips of fabric are incredibly secure.
Bowls Are Out – Snuffle Mats Are In!
There you have it. Now you know which snuffle mats are the best options for your pup.
Our top pick is PAW5’s Wooly Snuffle Mat. This company checks off all the boxes in the perfect snuffle mats for dogs. Their snuffle mats are machine washable, sustainably made, easy to use, and perfect for engaging your dog’s scent of smell while working their brains!
Crockery designed for humans is subpar for our canine kings. The design of snuffle mats is better suited to the curious needs of our furry companions.
Slow down their mealtime, stimulate their senses, and initiate some playfulness with a wooly snuffle rug today! Your pet will reward you with a worn-out snuggle at the end of a long play session!