The best Kong stuffings are low-effort and take a while for the dog to finish. You’re looking for options that feel like minimal work on your part, are healthy, and keep the dog’s attention for ten minutes or more. Winners and losers among these ideas will depend on you and on your dog’s personal tastes, so experiment. The worst that can happen is you’ll need to try something else.
If you hesitate at the idea of buying “people food” at the grocery store specifically for your dog, think of it this way: grocery store food is WAY cheaper than the Kong spray cheese that’s sold to stuff these toys with, and it’s healthier too. Plus, zookeepers do this kind of stuff all the time, and didn’t you kind of want to be a zookeeper when you were a kid?
As always, make sure you’re not offering your dog anything from the Do Not Feed List in Resources, and if your dog seems to have digestive issues with a certain food, listen to them. Our dogs’ stomachs give us the best feedback.
The Master Plan
To achieve perfect Kong balance, the filling must be soft enough to squish inside. But we don’t have to limit ourselves just to squishy things if you combine solids with squish. Below are some ideas to get you started.
- Bits of cooked meat or veggies
- Canned beans
- Thawed frozen veggie mix
- Frozen edamame
- Leftover pasta
- Oatmeal—let mixtures with oatmeal stand for a while to thicken
- Cooked grains
- Canned pumpkin
- Wet dog food
- Mashed banana
- Cooked sweet potato
- Unsweetened yogurt
Some fillings are gooey or liquid enough that they’ll drain out the hole in the bottom of the Kong. While you never want to permanently close up the hole—it’s there so the thing doesn’t suction to your dog’s face permanently—there are plenty of ways to block it enough to freeze up a liquid.
- Coffee mugs. Smaller mugs might fit the Kong so perfectly upright that something like yogurt wouldn’t get a chance to seep out the bottom. You can also use these to store Kongs upright in the freezer.
- Kibble. Some types of kibble are perfectly-sized to plug up Kong holes. It’s like they did this on purpose.
- Peanut butter. Oh, peanut butter, what aren’t you good for? A dab of PB on the bottom of a Kong can keep your concoctions inside.
- Cheese. A small cube of cheese smooshed into the hole in the Kong makes a good plug.
- Green peas. Either plugging the hole directly, or stuffed into the bottom of the Kong and packed in place with other ingredients.
- A big hunk of meat or dehydrated dog food. Something bulky to block the entire bottom of the Kong will keep other stuff inside.
- Pasty things like wet food or pumpkin.
These stuffings won’t work in an unfrozen Kong; they’re too liquid.
- Canned pumpkin or sweet potato.
- Leftover homemade or low-sodium soups and stews. Canned soups tend to be very high in sodium, and therefore not a good choice for dogs.
- Sugar-free applesauce.
- Smoothies: Yes, smoothies. Dogs have an easier time accessing the nutrients in some fruits and vegetables if they’re cooked or blended first. Get extra mileage out of your blender by throwing fresh or frozen fruit and yogurt together, blending, and pouring straight into a stopped-up Kong. Most fruits and veggies in human smoothies are good for dogs, too, so make a double batch of your favorite spinach-berry-yogurt breakfast smoothie and see if your dog enjoys it, too—though not if you use too many powders and nutritional add-ins. Leftover smoothie can be poured into a small zip-top bag and refrigerated to fill up tomorrow’s Kong.
Frozen or Not
These work great in frozen Kongs, but can do double-duty at room temperature too. Feel free to combine these together—dogs have strange palettes. Raw carrots and spaghetti don’t seem weird to them.
- Kibble, soaked overnight in water or low-sodium stock
- Mashed banana
- Cooked sweet potato
- Wet dog food, with or without kibble mixed in
- Rice mixed with canned pumpkin
- Oatmeal & yogurt—allow the mixture to stand for a while so it thickens and won’t run out the bottom
- Cooked oatmeal
- Leftovers from dinner. Double check your ingredients against the Do Not Feed List in the Appendix
- Cooked tortellini, leftover or not
- Scrambled eggs
- Seven-layer Kongs: this is just a little bit of everything you have in the fridge and cupboard. Give it a fancy name, though, because fancy names make things taste better
- Raw ground beef or turkey
No time to freeze but need your dog to go lay down and relax for a while? Try these:
- A hardboiled egg, smushed up just enough to fit
- Babybel cheese, whole
- Half a banana
For the Pudgy Pup
Stuffing Kongs with people food can be a challenge for the dog who’s already a few pounds overweight. A good solution here is to mix your dog’s regular food with another low-fat wet mixer and freeze the concoction in a Kong. Some additional dry options are listed below.
- Cooked rice
- Thawed frozen, steamed, or roasted veggies
- Drained canned low-sodium beans or frozen edamame
- Diced tomatoes (sodium-free)
- Canned pumpkin
- Low-fat plain yogurt
- Just enough canned dog food to allow your concoction to freeze
- Sugar-free applesauce
You can always use the moistened, softened kibble option here, too. Remember, Kongs should REPLACE your dog’s meals, so they shouldn’t add extra calories. If you get an overweight dog working for his meals, he might lose a little weight anyway.
Elaborately-packed Kongs can be kind of fun to put together and provide a longer project for your dog to work on. Here’s one way:
Plug the small end of the Kong with a big of cheese or meat.
In the first third, layer in something super delicious that the dog will work hard to get, like a spoonfull of cream cheese, canned food or peanut butter.
Next, pack in something a bit more nutritious, like a little kibble mixed with bits of leftover meat and chopped-up carrots.
Top this with a liquid, like applesauce or yogurt. Leave a little headroom, though, because we aren’t quite finished.
Your Kong should be mostly full. Block the big hole with something solid, like a big piece of cheese, a slice of apple, a small hunk of bread or a leftover ravioli.
Smear a little bit of that super delicious thing from the bottom of the Kong (the cream cheese layer) on top of that.
Then freeze it for when you need ten minutes of total peace and quiet.
Forks are easier to fit into the Kong’s opening than most spoons.
For squishy or liquid ingredients like canned dog food, yogurt or applesauce, you can pour the portion into a zip-top bag and close it. Cut off one corner with a scissors and squeeze the stuff into the Kong like frosting from a pastry bag.
A large Kong holds about 1/4 cup of liquid, or a little less than a quarter pound of raw ground beef