Mental stimulation is important for pets, and puzzle toys are one way to provide it. Interactive activities can help pets maintain a healthy weight, prevent boredom, and decrease their chances of anxiety or depression. But what exactly are puzzle toys? And are they safe for your pet to use when you’re not home? We take a deeper dive into puzzle toys and how they can be good for pets below.

How Play Helps Pets

Interactive play is important for both cats and dogs. It keeps them healthy, both mentally and physically. Whether you use a puzzle toy or not, it’s important for you to spend time playing with your pet every day.

Interactive play with puzzle toys can:

  • Build trust between pets and their humans
  • Build up your pet’s confidence in their own skills
  • Help reduce excessive weight gain
  • Keep away bad behaviors 
  • Reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Can work as a slow feeder for pets who eat too quickly

What Are Puzzle Toys? 

Puzzle toys are becoming increasingly popular with people who are looking to help their pets stay active. Puzzle toys are also known as interactive toys, because they require your pet to interact with them for a reward. Often the pet needs to solve a puzzle in order to gain access to a treat or some type of food. 

Puzzle toys for pets range in difficulty. Some toys, like the popular Kong, are fairly easy—they might have a single space for treats with easy access, or only require that the toy be rolled across the floor to release a treat. More difficult toys have sliding pieces that your pets need to nudge out of the way, while others might require even more work. 

What makes interactive toys fun for your pet (besides the treats) is the ability to tailor them. Because these toys come in all shapes, sizes, and difficulties, there is surely a puzzle for every pet. 

Are Puzzle Toys Safe When I’m Not Home?

Understanding your pet is essential in knowing whether or not they can be trusted with toys while away. But in general, leaving toys out when you’re away is unsafe for any pet, as accidents are bound to happen. 

This is especially true for very young pets, senior pets, excessive chewers, and pets with medical problems. Aggressive chewers might bite pieces off their toys and choke on them. And small parts that get swallowed can cause dangerous obstructions in the intestinal tract.

If your pet is the only animal at home, you can turn your house into a puzzle toy by hiding treats and kibble in different places. It is a good way to keep them entertained while you are away. For multi-pet households, sectioning each pet off in their own room and hiding treats is a great way to give them the snuffle activity without fear of guarding or aggressive behavior. 

Pet Care That Isn’t a Puzzle

Finding excellent veterinary care should never be a puzzle. Keeping your pet healthy takes a team effort, and every pet needs yearly checkups and vaccinations. Checkups help you ensure that your young pet is growing steadily, and that your adult pet is maintaining a healthy weight. Vaccinations help stop diseases in their tracks or make the resulting disease manageable rather than life-threatening. 

Here at East Valley Animal Hospital, we understand the importance of easy-to-manage health care for your pet. That is why we offer built-in time to answer your questions during every exam, and why we work so hard to provide affordable, excellent veterinary care. Contact us today to make an appointment for your pet!





Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (1/31/24). Photo by Kim Davies on Unsplash.