Forget the turkey—let’s stuff some Kongs!
Every Dog Deserves a Kong
Kongs have stood the test of time for good reason. This iconic hollow rubber snowman is more than a fetch toy—it’s a canine enrichment experience. And the internet has elevated Kong stuffing from a smear of peanut butter and a biscuit to a Michelin Star-worthy meal.
The busy holiday season is the perfect time to give your dog a well-stuffed Kong. This gift provides a mentally stimulating and long-lasting activity and is the ideal distraction during holiday meal preparation or dinner. Your little foodie will be too busy savoring their supper to counter-surf, dumpster-dive, or jump on Aunt Edna.
The Good Stuff: Ingredients
For your dog’s safety, use only plain ingredients with no sauces or seasonings. Avoid casseroles and prepared side dishes as they often contain salt, heavy cream, butter, onion, garlic, or leeks that can cause gastrointestinal upset. Dairy products can trigger dangerous pancreatitis, and aromatics are toxic to dogs. Be a good dog parent and learn to recognize pet-toxic human foods, and check with your veterinarian if your pet has dietary restrictions.
Assemble the following ingredients:
- Turkey — Boneless, skinless white meat
- Low-sodium bone broth or chicken broth for dogs
- Sweet potato — Mashed
- Green beans — Raw or cooked
Kong Stuffing Etiquette
Filling a Kong seems pretty straightforward until you try, and the ingredients go everywhere but inside the toy. Here are a few expert tips:
- Seal it — You should seal the tiny hole from the outside with peanut butter, cream cheese, or coconut oil if you’re using a lot of liquid ingredients.
- Stabilize it — Stabilize the Kong base-side-up inside a ceramic coffee cup. An egg carton also works well.
- Pipe it — A pastry bag or a zippered sandwich bag with the tip cut off helps pipe soft ingredients directly into the Kong.
- Layer it — Alternating wet and dry ingredients gives your dog texture variety and can help beginners access the food. Freezing wet layers will minimize the mess.
- Stuff it — Keep things easy for Kong newbies by loosely packing the ingredients. Overfilling will make the challenge too tricky and may frustrate your dog. Rather than overstuffing one Kong, refill the toy when your pet finishes.
- Freeze it — Kong experts will appreciate the challenge of a frozen Kong. Ensure you add liquid (e.g., broth or water) to your ingredients to help the mixture solidify, and seal the small hole to prevent spills.
The Ultimate Thanksgiving Recipe
Kong meals are constructed in reverse, starting with dessert:
- Dessert — Place a small dollop of cream cheese in the bottom of the Kong, and seal the small hole from the outside. Spread pumpkin puree along the inside. Freeze for 15 minutes to set. Short on time? Skip the freezer.
- Main course — Combine shredded turkey with broth, pour in, and freeze again. Omit the broth if your pup doesn’t find frozen dinners appealing or if they’re new to Kongs. Layer in mashed sweet potato.
- Salad course — Add green beans, peas, and carrots. For small Kongs, you may need to finely dice these ingredients, or use only one.
- Appetizer — Top off with diced apples or apple sticks, a few dried cranberries, and crumbled cornbread for a burst of harvest flavors.
- Amuse bouche — Give your dog a tempting first bite by sealing the Kong’s opening with pumpkin puree mixed with a pinch of cinnamon. Dust with extra cornbread crumbles, and top with a biscuit or carrot stick.
Supervise your dog during any Kong interaction to ensure proper play. During the holidays, confine your pup to their bed, in a crate, or behind a baby gate, where you can monitor their progress but keep them safely separated from the holiday hustle and bustle.
Fun with Leftovers
Let’s be honest—the Thanksgiving meal is delicious, but when you make your own flavor combinations with the leftovers, the food really sings. So, don’t be limited by a recipe—as long as you stick with pet-safe ingredients and use them in moderation, your canine connoisseur will surely be thankful for whatever they are served!
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