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My dog and I love Kongs. He gets one almost every single time that I leave the house. He eats his dinner out of his Kong some days. And when I’m recording podcast episodes, you bet I use a Kong to keep him occupied!
You can use a variety of other puzzle toys as well, such as Toppls or Quizls from West Paw. I’ve even stuffed beef tracheas and water buffalo horns with tasty treats for my pup!
But my boyfriend is allergic to peanut butter, and besides, peanut butter isn’t the healthiest snack for daily consumption. My dog is an athlete and my best friend, and I like to fuel him with the best I can.
With the help of many other dog trainers, I’ve created a mega list of (mostly healthy) things to put inside of a Kong besides peanut butter.
How to Stuff a Kong for Your Dog
Stuffing a Kong is pretty easy – but it can get messy.
- Put bigger, looser objects at the bottom of the Kong and seal with something sticky.
- Install a “handle,” such as a bully stick, chicken foot, carrot, or milk bone. Do this by inserting the handle into the Kong, then filling and sealing around it.
- For softer fillings, use a small spoon (baby spoons are great) to fill the Kong around the bigger, loose objects.
- Seal using the back of the spoon or a butter knife. When possible, I prefer to use squeeze tubes to fill Kongs – it’s cleaner!
- Freeze or refrigerate for long-term storage and extra challenge.
I recommend designating a Kong-stuffing day once or twice per week. I keep four or five Kongs and other freezable, stuffable toys around so that I can make a big bowl of Kong filling once a week. Freeze the Kong for longer-lasting use.
You won’t see the amounts listed in the article below because every Kong size will need different amounts. Your Shih Tzu puppy’s Kong will not need nearly as much filling as a Great Dane’s Kong!
These recipes aren’t limited to Kongs, either. You can put these mixtures into any of the freezable puzzle toys listed here.
8 Fast and Easy Fillers to Put in a Kong
In a pinch for time or feeling forgetful at the grocery store? These staples are tasty enough that most dogs will love them. They all can double as filler and sealer ingredients in other recipes as well!
- Wet, Canned, or Dehydrated Dog Food. This is my personal favorite quick Kong filling. I use Honest Kitchen dehydrated dog food, Natural Balance dog food rolls, or Kirkland canned dog food as my
go-tos. You can serve this as a meal or a nutritionally complete snack!
- Canned Fish or Meat. Sardines, tuna, or even Spam can make great Kong fillings! The fish oils will keep your dog’s coat healthy, and human-grade meats are a great option. Steer clear from options that are heavily seasoned or that include garlic and onions. The fewer ingredients, the better. My dog especially loves Bela Smoked Sardines – they’re sustainably caught and extra-tasty. Sometimes I steal some for my crackers!
- Cooked Ground Meat. Ground turkey, chicken, beef, and pork all make excellent Kong fillings. Use a baby spoon to fill your Kong without getting your hands too greasy.
- Cat Food. For picky eaters, cat food is an extra-tempting Kong filler. The consistency of some cat foods makes it an excellent sealant for Kongs (similar to meat pates).
- Meat Pâtés. I recently discovered Cinta Azul Patecito meat pâtés at Costa Rican grocery stores. They’re super easy to use as Kong fillings thanks to their easy squeeze opening. I haven’t been able to find them on Amazon, so I’m not sure if you’ll be able to find them at your local grocery store. But they’re perfect! We use them almost every day. Watch out for heavily seasoned pâtés – dogs shouldn’t eat onions or garlic.
- Applesauce. Use applesauce to thin out viscous Kong fillings and to add some extra nutrients to your dog’s snack.
- Peanut Butter or Other Nut Butters. I know, these nut butters really aren’t the healthiest option out there – and non-peanut options get expensive fast! But nut butters
aregreat for sealing Kongs shut and can fill a Kong in a pinch.
- Squeeze cheese, Cream Cheese, Cottage Cheese, or Ricotta Cheese. Like nut
butters, cheeses aren’t exactly a good meal replacement for your pup. But they’re great for making a healthy Kong extra-tasty or sealing your Kong shut!
7 Fancy and Delicious Recipes You Can Put in a Kong (No Peanut Butter Involved)
1. Thanksgiving Snack Kong Stuffing
Cook the ground turkey and chopped baby carrots together. Fill the bottom ⅔ of your Kong with this mixture, then add a layer of mashed sweet potato and seal with canned pumpkin. Serve frozen.
2. Hawaiian Paradise Kong Filler
- Pureed mango baby food
- Mashed banana
- Pork sausage or shredded pork
- Canned crushed pineapple
- Fromm Pork Peas dog food
- Dried pig’s ear
Mix the fruit ingredients together in a bowl, set aside. Mix the pork-based kibble with the pork and fill the bottom ⅔ of the Kong with that mixture. Insert a dried pig’s ear as a handle – use a smaller strip if necessary based on Kong size. Use a baby spoon to fill the top ⅓ with the fruit mix. Serve frozen.
3. Canine Comfort Food Kong Filler
- Leftover Mac and Cheese
- Canned cat food
Fill the bottom ⅓ of the Kong with Cheerios and place the Puperoni as a handle. Layer in the Mac and Cheese around the Puperoni. Seal with cat food and serve frozen.
4. Superfood SuperKong Superfiller
- Salmon skin
- Chicken foot
- Freeze-dried liver
- Ground meat or other filler
Mix the ground turkey with the bone broth to thicken the broth. Set aside. Fill bottom ⅓ of the Kong with blueberries and ground liver. Add a thin layer of salmon skin and insert the chicken foot as a handle. Add a layer of freeze-dried liver, then another thin layer of salmon skin. Seal with the turkey and bone broth mixture. Freeze and serve.
5. Breakfast in Bed Kong Filling
- Shredded cheese
- Chicken breast
Chop the broccoli into pea-sized chunks. Chop the spinach finely. Mix with eggs and chicken breast, and cook. Add shredded cheese at the end. Use a milk bone as a handle and freeze.
6. Mariner’s Delight Kong Stuffing
- Canned tuna cat food
- Fish oil
- Fish-flavored dog kibble
- Citrus baby food (to prevent scurvy, of course)
Mix the kibble, cat food, and fish oil. Fill the bottom ½ of the Kong with that mixture. Add a few sardines and fill around the sides with citrus baby food to seal. Freeze.
7. Vegetarian Bodybuilder Kong Filling
- Hard boiled egg
- String cheese
- Cooked spinach
- Frozen green peas
Mix cheerios, green peas, cooked spinach, and yogurt. Fill the bottom half of the Kong with that mixture. Insert string cheese as a handle. Fill around the sides with mashed hard boiled egg to seal. Freeze and serve.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your Kong recipes! If your dog has allergies, be sure to substitute accordingly and add new foods with care.
What are your favorite Kong stuffings?
Kayla founded Journey Dog Training in 2013 to provide high-quality and affordable dog behavior advice. She is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant who’s worked with hundreds of private clients, thousands of shelter dogs, and dozens of working detection dogs. Kayla’s dog and cat behavior advice has been featured in NPR, the Chicago Tribune, and Pet MD. She’s an avid adventurer who is currently doing #vanlife on the Pan-American Highway with her two border collies and a cat. Aside from running Journey Dog Training, Kayla also runs the nonprofit K9 Conservationists, where she and the dogs work as conservation detection dog teams. You can get 1:1 advice with a Journey Dog Training team member here.
Thanks for this! Curious though, as the dogs chew and the kong thaws, don’t these become messy? Assume you keep your dog off of carpets?
I have two dogs, so I always feed them Kongs inside crates (to avoid arguments – one eats much slower than the other). Back when I just had one dog, I usually fed Kongs on a dog towel.