Guide to Dog Food Puzzles: How to Choose and Use One

The post Guide to Dog Food Puzzles: How to Choose and Use One by Debbie DeSantis, BAH, CPDT-KA appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on

Food puzzles enrich your dog’s life and can be used as feeding bowls. They slow down mealtime for a dog who scarfs his food and double as a thinking toy. Aside from choosing the correct puzzle level, which ranges in difficulty from levels 1 to 4, teaching your dog to use a food puzzle enriches both you and your dog!

How to choose the best dog food puzzle

Consider what your dog enjoys doing: Rolling a ball, pawing at something or just sniffing.

Choose your food puzzle based on your dog’s interests.

Interactive puzzles for dogs have different ways to distribute the food you place in it. Some are ball-shaped and dispense food as they roll, while others require your dog to lift or slide pieces with his paw or muzzle. Dogs sniff out the hidden food treasures in simple food puzzles called snuffle mats and even simpler, dogs lick food from a mat.

3 tips for picking the best dog food puzzle

  • Ask yourself: What’s a natural thinking toy for my dog? After all, using a puzzle toy should be fun for the dog, not frustrating.
  • For beginners, choose the easiest level interactive puzzle. Set your dog up to succeed, so that he wants to continue using it.
  • Choose the right size and shape for your dog. Got a large dog? Choose a durable and larger food puzzle. Conversely, if you have a toy-sized dog, the puzzle toy should be lightweight enough for him to manipulate.

Dog food puzzle training tips

First: Don’t rush the process. Rushing frustrates your dog. Only after he feels confident with the easier food puzzles, teach him to use more difficult levels and toys.

Teach your dog to use a food puzzle in 7 steps

  • Wait until your dog is hungry, so he’s motivated to find the food inside the puzzle.
  • Use enticing, high-value treats, such as meat, fish or cheese treat with a strong odor. I suggest freeze-dried liver, fish or cheese in small pieces. Dry treats work best for puzzles that dispense goodies like balls or have pieces that need to be maneuvered. For lick mats and bowls, use a moist food or mix.
  • Start at an easy level (1 to 2) and put a lot of treats in the toy. Do not freeze the toy, even if it’s meant to be frozen, such as a Kong, Toppl, maze dish or lick mat, because this increases the difficulty level.
  • Let him sniff and interact with the puzzle toy.
  • Praise and encourage your pup while he explores the toy.
  • Give him time and space to manipulate the toy. Don’t rush him.
  • End the session on a positive note after he’s gotten some of the treasured treats out of the puzzle.

If the toy seems too difficult or not the right one for your dog, end the session on a good note by playing with him. Next time, try a different puzzle toy that better suits his level and interest.

Here are 6 of our favorite dog food puzzle toys.

After you see what toys work best with your dog, add more difficult toys to his repertoire.

Food puzzles lessen boredom and increase the quality of your dog’s life. Choosing the one that’s best for your pup will make the journey productive and fun. The mental stimulation the toys provide will enrich both your and your dog’s lives. And your pup will gain confidence in the process.

The post Guide to Dog Food Puzzles: How to Choose and Use One by Debbie DeSantis, BAH, CPDT-KA appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on

Why Is My Pitbull Snoring? 10 Vet-Approved Common Reasons

If you’re one of the millions of dog owners who let their pet sleep with them, you probably love the comfort of cuddling with your Pitbull. What you may be less excited about, however, is all the noise they make when they’re sleeping! Like humans, Pitbulls can snore when air passes through their nose and throat vibrates. Sometimes snoring is normal, but it may also indicate a health problem. Here are eight common reasons why your Pitbull is snoring.


10 Vet-Approved Reasons Why Pitbulls May Snore

1. Sleep Position

Is it serious: Not usually
Is veterinary care required: Not usually

Any condition that blocks or changes the shape of your dog’s nose, mouth, or throat may cause them to snore. Sometimes, that’s as simple as your Pitbull’s sleeping position. For example, if your dog loves to snooze on their back, they may snore because their tongue partly blocks the airway and windpipe in that position. Try shifting your dog’s position as they sleep to see if that solves their snoring problem. If not, consider speaking to your vet and check out the other possible reasons on our list.

blue fawn pitbull lying on the floor
Image Credit: Roberto Cabrera Castro, Shutterstock

2. Nose Shape

Is it serious: Sometimes
Is veterinary care required: Sometimes

Dogs with abnormally flat noses and faces typically snore more than others. These breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, often have trouble moving air in and out even when they’re awake. Some Pitbulls also have short noses, although usually not to the same extent as true brachycephalic breeds. If your Pitbull’s nose is short or their nostrils are narrow, it could be the reason they’re snoring. Some dogs require a surgical procedure to improve their breathing, while others can function normally.

3. Allergies

Is it serious: Sometimes
Is veterinary care required: Yes

If your Pitbull suffers from allergies, the condition could also be responsible for their nightly snoring, but this is uncommon. Unlike humans, dogs with environmental allergies are more likely to display skin issues as the allergen enters the body through the defective skin barrier rather than being inhaled. However, digestive issues and upper respiratory signs are also possible. Allergic response and inflammation of the nose (rhinitis) can occur seasonally in association with pollen production, or throughout the whole year due to house dust mites and molds. Inhalation of smoke or irritant gasses can also cause signs of rhinitis.

This irritation and swelling could impact how air moves through the inflamed nasal passages, restricting airflow and leading to snoring. Depending on what your Pitbull is allergic to, you may need to treat them with medication or take other steps to improve the air quality in your house. Consult your vet if you believe an allergy is a possible cause for your dog snoring or if your dog is showing other signs of rhinitis, such as discharge, sneezing, and/or labored breathing.

White pitbull sleeping in bed
Image Credit: Ivan5.0, Shutterstock

4. Upper Respiratory Infection

Is it serious: Sometimes
Is veterinary care required: Yes

Just like you tend to snore when you have a cold, your Pitbull may do the same if they suffer from an upper respiratory infection. Dogs may experience sneezing, coughing, and nasal discharge. Common conditions include kennel cough (often caused by a complex mix of viruses and bacteria), fungal disease, or nasal mites. The swelling, congestion, presence of discharge or mucus, and irritation in their nose and throat could cause snoring.

You’ll need to see your vet if you suspect your Pitbull has an upper respiratory infection. Some dangerous infectious diseases, like canine distemper, can also cause similar signs as a simple infection, so getting your dog diagnosed correctly is essential.

5. Infected Tooth

Is it serious: Yes
Is veterinary care required: Yes

If one of your Pitbull’s upper teeth becomes infected, the resulting abscess may spread into your dog’s sinus cavity and nose, causing inflammation and swelling. This might impact the normal airflow, potentially causing your dog to snore, although this is rare and occurs only later in the disease process.

Signs you are likely to notice first are reduced appetite, bad breath, trouble eating and chewing on toys, pain, sore gums, drooling, discharge, and swelling on the face. Tooth root abscesses can be painful and may also spread the infection to other body parts through the bloodstream. This condition needs urgent veterinary care. Treatment generally involves removing the tooth, along with medications.

Pitbull sleeping on the deck
Image Credit: Liz Tracy Photography, Shutterstock

6. Foreign Object in the Nose

Is it serious: Yes
Is veterinary care required: Yes

Because dogs use their noses to investigate everything, they sometimes snort up something that doesn’t belong. Any foreign object, such as a blade of grass, piece of food, dirt, or bug that gets stuck in your Pitbull’s nose, could cause them to snore. Besides snoring, you may notice your dog frequently sneezing, pawing at their nose, or having a discharge, often bloody. A trip to the vet is required to find out what’s going on.

7. Obesity

Is it serious: Yes
Is veterinary care required: Sometimes

Many Pitbulls love to eat and are excellent beggars, too. If your dog has conned one too many snacks out of you, they may have also gained too much weight. Obesity is a common cause of snoring in dogs. Overweight dogs often pack on excess fat in the neck and throat area, which can restrict normal airflow, resulting in snoring.

Snoring may be annoying, but obesity can cause other, more serious health issues for your Pitbull. You may need your vet’s help to calculate how many calories your dog should eat daily. They can also suggest an exercise routine to help your pup shed a few pounds.

Pitbull sleeping soundly on the floor
Image Credit: Hannah Jones, Unsplash

8. Laryngeal paralysis

Is it serious: Yes
Is veterinary care required: Yes

Several conditions can lead to a weakness in the nerves controlling the windpipe (larynx), which in turn can lead to laryngeal paralysis, the failure of the windpipe to open correctly while breathing in. Signs of this include noisy breathing during the day, coughing, reduced exercise tolerance, panting, and change in the bark. Noisy breathing due to laryngeal paralysis can also be noticed while the dog is sleeping and this could sound similar to snoring. If you notice noisy breathing in your Pitbull, which may sound similar to snoring, especially during the day, or if you suspect they may have laryngeal paralysis, contact your vet as this condition will warrant a prompt veterinary check.

Any tumor or swelling in the neck and throat area can also lead to laryngeal paralysis. The condition often occurs in older dogs due to progressive muscle and nerve weakness.

Another disorder often associated with laryngeal paralysis is hypothyroidism, a medical condition where the dog’s body doesn’t produce enough of a hormone that regulates their metabolism. Hypothyroidism then leads to windpipe nerve weakness and muscle wasting (atrophy). Some of the other more common signs include weight gain, lethargy, frequent skin and ear infections, and excessive hair loss.

9. Tumors and Polyps

Is it serious: Yes
Is veterinary care required: Yes

Tumors in the nose, sinuses, and windpipe in dogs are more often malignant than not, and will require veterinary attention. Chronic discharge from the nose is the most common sign, often bloody or thick, but sneezing, nose bleeds, and noisy breathing may occur. Polyps are benign growths and a biopsy is required to differentiate them from tumors. Noisy breathing in case of polyps and tumors happens due to them blocking parts of the airways, causing a change in airflow and subsequent noise. This can be noticed and described as snoring during sleeping.

Pitbull sleeping on the couch
Image Credit: Anna Borcas, Shutterstock

10. Sleep Apnea

Is it serious: Yes
Is veterinary care required: Yes

You have probably often heard of sleeping disorders in people, one of which is sleep apnea, causing the person to stop breathing for a short period during their sleep, before then continuing to breathe normally. During this transition, a loud gasp can be let out that sounds like snorting or snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea is uncommon, and poorly described in dogs, and is often associated with brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), in “flat face” dog breeds. Sleep apnea has been reported in the English bulldog. The majority of Pitbull breeds have intermediate skull and nose length, in comparison to the brachycephalic breeds that have shortened muzzles. In cases of extreme breeding, depending on the skull and nose length, some individual Pitbulls could have a higher risk of BOAS syndrome and a predisposition for sleep apnea that causes noisy breathing and snoring-like sounds, although this seems rare.

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Should You Be Concerned About Your Pitbull’s Snoring?

As we’ve learned, there could be several reasons why your Pitbull is snoring, but not all of them are a cause for immediate concern. If your dog has always snored or only snores in certain sleeping positions, it’s likely normal for them.

However, if snoring is a new habit or if you notice any other signs of illness, it’s a good idea to have your dog checked by a veterinarian. If your dog displays noisy breathing when awake, take it to the vet immediately, especially if you notice wheezing or your dog seems to be struggling to breathe.

Pitbull sleeping soundly
Image Credit: Michael Carni, Shutterstock

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You may worry about your Pitbull’s snoring because humans can suffer from dangerous conditions like sleep apnea. Thankfully, this condition rarely affects dogs, so your Pitbull’s snoring is most likely the result of one of the other nine reasons we discussed in the article. While you may be able to treat some of the causes of snoring, it’s also possible that your Pitbull is just a naturally noisy sleeper. If you don’t want to banish your pup from the bedroom, it might be time to invest in earplugs!

Featured Image Credit: dogboxstudio, Shutterstock

The post Why Is My Pitbull Snoring? 10 Vet-Approved Common Reasons appeared first on Pet Keen.

Do Sugar Gliders Like to Be Held and Petted? Facts & Tips

Sugar gliders may look cute and cuddly—but can you actually cuddle them? These exotic pets are loved by their owners for their soft fur and affectionate personalities. They tend to make good pets if you take care of them properaly. And when it comes to physical contact, you’ll be happy to know that many sugar gliders are all for it! Most sugar gliders love to be held and petted by someone they trust. But it is important to build a strong relationship with your sugar glider and respect its needs.


Sugar Glider Social Behavior

Learning more about sugar glider behavior is a great way to get a better sense of what kinds of physical contact they like. Unlike cats and dogs, sugar gliders are exotic animals that haven’t been domesticated. That means that they aren’t bred to get along with humans. But sugar gliders are social mammals. That means it’s a little easier for sugar gliders to “adopt” humans into their social circle because we have some things in common.

In the wild, sugar gliders live in colonies of up to ten individuals. They care for each other and form strong bonds. To a sugar glider, there’s a big difference between family and strangers. That’s why even a well-socialized sugar glider can get scared around new people. Like humans, sugar gliders use touch to show affection. Mother sugar gliders keep their babies safe in a pouch, just like kangaroos. And sugar gliders of all ages groom each other to keep clean and bond. When we’re petting and holding sugar gliders, we want to tap into those instincts.

sugar glider sitting at a human hand
Image Credit: Madoka Shiozaki, Shutterstock


How to Hold and Pet Your Sugar Glider

Not every sugar glider likes to be held, but many do. When you hold a sugar glider, you want to help it feel safe and comfortable. That means you don’t want to manhandle your glider—like grabbing it by the tail or scruff of the neck. You also don’t want to pick up your glider if it is acting scared or unhappy. Instead, you want to let your glider sit in your hands and relax. Many sugar gliders like to curl up in a shirt pocket, and you can even buy little pouches to hold your sugar glider in! Imagine that your sugar glider is thinking back to the days when it was warm and safe in its mother’s pouch.

When you pet your sugar glider, you want to be gentle. Don’t poke or prod it, and don’t keep petting it if it seems uncomfortable. They often like to be scratched gently on their head or under their chin. In return, your glider might “groom” you by licking and nibbling your hands. They might pick at scabs or dry skin. These nibbles aren’t meant to be painful or aggressive, and they’re not a sign that you need to stop petting.

Helping Your Sugar Glider Bond

Sugar gliders need a lot of social time to form a strong bond with their owners. Here are some tips and tricks to help you become family to your sugar glider.

  • Pick the right time. Sugar gliders are nocturnal, so playtime works best in the early mornings or in the evening when you’re both awake and happy.

  • Start slow. Building a relationship takes time! Give your sugar glider a few days to settle into their living environment before you try to touch it. Start with gentle, short socialization sessions and work your way up.

  • Watch your glider’s feelings. Sugar gliders will bond with you better if they feel comfortable. Forced interactions do more harm than good. If your sugar glider tries to hide or shy away from you or makes unhappy noises, it doesn’t want to play.

  • Offer food. Sugar gliders like treats, and you can reward good behavior with treats. When your sugar glider does let you pet or hold them, give them something tasty.

sugar glider eating snacks
Image Credit: Kitt Amaritnant, Flickr


Last Thoughts

Exotic pets can be difficult to care for, but that doesn’t mean they hate affection. Sugar gliders often love being held, petted, and interacted with. As long as you take it slowly and respect your glider’s feelings, you’ll be sure to build a strong bond. And while not every glider likes to be pet or held in a specific way, over time, you’ll find something that works for you.

Featured Image Credit: Praisaeng, Shutterstock

The post Do Sugar Gliders Like to Be Held and Petted? Facts & Tips appeared first on Pet Keen.