Have you heard about snuffle mats for pets? If not, you may be missing out on a great opportunity to provide your dog or cat with enrichment, excitement, and variety!
What is a snuffle mat and how do you use one?
A snuffle mat is a puzzle toy that encourages your pet to forage for its food. They require that your pet move the pieces of the mat to access their food.
Most snuffle mats are made from fabric, but some may include plastic or rubber. Mats come in different sizes and shapes. Some are washable and some have suction cups to help them stay in place, so pets don’t flip them over.
Using it is simple. Scatter your pet’s dry food or treats over the surface and nestle the pieces within. Present the mat to your pets and let them find the rewards. No training is required as their instincts will take over!
What are the benefits of using a snuffle mat?
- It provides mental stimulation. Your pet will spend more time working for its meal which will eliminate boredom and boost happy hormones!
- It promotes slow feeding. Your pet may be at higher risk of vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, or bloat if they inhale their food. A snuffle mat slows them down by avoiding the big gulps of food from their traditional food bowl.
- It reduces begging behaviors. Snuffle mats help pets feel fuller and more satisfied after a meal, so they won’t be asking you for extras as often.
- It burns energy. Concentrating on a snuffle mat helps to calm your energetic pet and burn excess energy. 15 minutes of mental stimulation can burn as much energy as an hour of walking or active play!
- It curbs separation anxiety. Snuffle mats can provide a distraction and entertainment when your anxious pet needs to be alone.
- It reduces stress. When the weather is less than pleasant and a walk may not be on your to-do list, a snuffle mat can provide stress relief for those pets that can’t get the physical activity they may need.
How do you make a snuffle mat?
- A rubber anti-fatigue mat with holes in it.
- Sharp scissors or rotary cutter & self-healing cutting mat.
- Fleece fabric. Amount will vary depending on the size of your project. Use as many colors as you like! This is a great project to use up scrap fabric(s).
- Cut the mat to size. A 12×12 inch square is a good universal size but can be made larger or smaller depending on the size of your pet.
- Cut the fleece into 1 inch by 6-inch strips. You’ll need at least as many strips as there are holes in your mat.
- Double knot the strips along the entire edge and fill in the inside of the mat in whatever pattern you desire. Tie one strip on each section where the holes connect. Use as many or as few strips as needed to adjust the “fullness” of the mat.
- Hide your pet’s food or favorite treats in the snuffle mat and let them forage!