8 Best Snuffle Mats For 2021: Fun Foraging Activity for Fast Eating Dogs

We have all seen dogs who turn into furry vacuum cleaners at feeding time. Rapidly gulping down their food, as well as a ton of air, these dogs make it their mission to eat their food as quickly as possible. For many dogs, this is a basic instinct: when food is readily available, they eat as quickly as possible, getting an edge on any competing canines in the area.

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As you may have guessed, this is not the ideal way for your dog to enjoy its meal. Not only does your dog not chew its food, which can help digestion and dental health, it can also lead to anxiety. Luckily, snuffle mats are an excellent choice for helping your dog eat and take treats in a more controlled and healthy manner.

In the following article, we will dive into what a snuffle mat is, how to choose the best one for your dog, and how it can help you and your dog enjoy a happier, healthier feeding time.

What is a Snuffle Mat?

A snuffle mat is a collection of soft materials, woven together or sewn to a backing, that encourages your canine to search for its kibble, much like they would in the wild. By encouraging your pet to search for its food, you are accomplishing two objectives.

First, you are slowing down your dog’s natural inclination to eat available food as quickly as possible. Second, you are giving your dog much-needed mental stimulation. Specifically, you are giving it a job to do. Foraging is a prime activity for reducing boredom while giving your pet the satisfaction of “finding” their own food.

Fast Feeding – A Common Problem

Fast feeding can cause several problems, ranging from mild annoyances to life-threatening emergencies. When your dog eats too quickly, they will swallow too much air. All that excess air can lead to discomfort, belching, and vomiting. Not an ideal situation for you, your pup, or your carpet.

In the worst case, fast feeding can lead to a dangerous condition called gastric dilatation-volvulus, more commonly known as bloat.

The cause of bloat is too much air entering your dog’s stomach. All that air can cause your dog’s stomach to twist, which will obstruct your canine’s digestive tract. Bloat requires emergency medical and surgical intervention. Snuffle mats are a great way to slow your dog’s feeding and significantly reduce the chance of bloat.

Tap into Your Dogs Foraging Instincts

When it comes to interacting with the world, your dog will always follow its nose. It’s in their DNA. We all know how much dogs love to sniff out new smells on their daily walks or give you a third-degree sniff over after you visit other dogs.

Unfortunately, in the modern world, dogs don’t always get to use their sense of smell the way they would in the wild. While this might not seem like an issue, the lack of mental stimulation can lead to boredom. As we all know, boredom can lead to anxiety, chewing, and a host of other unwanted behaviors.

By allowing your dog to forage for food, you are tapping into your dog’s natural foraging instincts. We all like to have the opportunity to work out our muscles, so in addition to regular walks, a snuffle mat can work out the strongest muscle your dog has – its nose.

How to Choose a Snuffle Mat

Not sure where to begin? Here’s how to pick out the best snuffle mat for your pup:

Materials

There are two popular material choices for snuffle mats: fleece and felt and the cotton and polyester variety. Our top choice is cotton and polyester. It adds enhanced durability, as well as better simulating real word foraging conditions.

Canines in the wild often feed on small critters hiding in bushes and weeds. We find that the cotton and polyester construction simulates those conditions best. The downside to the polyester and cotton mats is the look, which may leave guests wondering why you have a crazy looking wig lying around.

Felt and fleece mats offer a more visually appealing mat that still provides excellent stimulation for your canine companion. It also allows designers more leeway in addressing our next consideration.

Puzzle Variety

Puzzle variety is an important feature to consider, not just for your pet but also for the owner.

Some dogs will benefit from having a wider variety of puzzles of varying difficulty. Owners can moderate feeding pace by using easier puzzles for the bulk of their pets’ food yet still allow excellent foraging play using the more difficult puzzles. Of course, you will need to invest more preparation time when using these more complicated puzzles.

For ease of use, we recommend picking a snuffle mat with round, uniform bristles. You will still have discretion over how deep you seed your kibble, and these cotton-polyester mats can provide your dog with more than enough foraging challenge.

Breed Size and Facial Structure

Your dog’s breed and facial composition are important considerations in your search for the perfect snuffle mat. Dogs with flatter faces will have trouble with some of the cup puzzles featured on some of our mats, as will large dog breeds.

We consider the cotton-polyester blend mats a superior choice for large breeds due to their durable construction. Fleece and felt mats are more visually appealing and provide more puzzle variety, but their complex construction raises some durability concerns. Their construction makes them more appropriate for small to medium-size dogs.

Some breeds, such as terriers, may be more inclined to pick up and shake their snuffle mat, sending kibble flying. The more ingenious dogs in our test group were able to figure out how to flip the mat, defeating the snuffle puzzle.

You’ll want to make sure the size and attachment methods are appropriate to your dog’s play pattern and problem-solving ability.

Options for Securing Your Snuffle Mat

Many of the mats in our review feature a non-skid bottom. Non-slip bottoms are important when considering your feeding area. This will prevent injuries to you and your pet, both during feeding times and when your mat is not in use.

For large breeds and those who have figured out how to flip their snuffle mats, the non-skip surface won’t be enough. Some mats in our review come with anchor points to solve this problem. By securing your mat to the floor or nearby furniture, your dog won’t be able to flip, lift, or shake the mat during feeding time.

Of the options available, we like suction cups the best. Of course, that requires you to feed your dog on a smooth, non-porous surface. If that’s not an option, we recommend checking out mats that use straps to tether to some nearby furniture.

How to Use Your Snuffle Mat

Here’s how to get the most out of your snuffle mat:

Preparing Your Mat For Use

Preparing your mat for use is quick and easy. For cotton and polyester mats, simply feather the surface, pour your dog’s food and treats over the top, and gently fluff the surface to work the kibble deep into the piles.

If you are working with fleece and felt mats, preparation can take a bit more time. Preparation time will depend on the mat you choose as well as your feeding and play goals.

We recommend using the cup features and frilled edges for the bulk of your dog’s meal. This will make preparation easier and still meet your slow feeding objectives. Save the smaller features and pockets to keep your pup occupied after meal time with some advanced foraging challenges.

Choose Your Feeding Area

Your feeding area is an important and often overlooked consideration. We recommend selecting a mat that will integrate well with your dog’s current feeding space. This will help your dog understand that the snuffle mat is for feeding and foraging, not other modes of play.

If space is a concern, we recommend looking into a wedged corner mat. Some mats in our review don’t feature a non-slip bottom, in which case you will want to feed your dog on a carpeted surface.

Of course, if you want to use attachment points such as straps or suction cups, make sure your feeding area will accommodate them.

Overall Best Snuffle Mat

While we’ve got a lot of great options, this one has to be our favorite.

Paw5 Wooly Snuffle Dog Feeding Mat

The Paw5 Wooly Snuffle is our top choice for snuffle mats. We love how closely the polyester and cotton construction simulates thick underbrush, although it may take a little extra effort to hide Spot’s kibble. Not only is the texture and depth of the material great for hiding food and treats, but it is also amazingly durable. It can stand up to any size breed and is machine washable.

The Wooly Snuffle is a bit on the small side, considering it is one of the more expensive mats in our test. It also doesn’t feature any apparent borders, which we found to help keep our feeding area clean. Since it lacks a non-slip bottom, you’ll want to use this mat on a carpet or mat for safety.

The Wooly Snuffle is a bit on the ungainly side when it comes to aesthetics. From a distance, it looks a bit like a large pile of steel wool. While some color options would help, it probably isn’t the kind of item you leave out when you have company. Luckily this mat rolls up for easy storage, perfect for when you have dinner guests who aren’t of the four-legged variety.

Pros:

  • Durable cotton-polyester blend
  • A thick, deep mat that provides hours of foraging fun
  • Machine washable

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have a non-slip bottom
  • Small 18′ by 12′ size
  • This is one of the most expensive mats we tested

7 More Top-Rated Snuffle Mats

RUNDA Snuffle Mat

RUNDA has upgraded its classic snuffle mat, making it better than ever. This mat has several upgrades from the previous version, which was already fantastic.

The updated mat features thicker hair, making hiding your dog’s food and treats a breeze. Many mats, including this one, feature a non-stick bottom. This mat goes a step further, also featuring two suction cups. These attachments keep your dog from flipping their mat, which the smarter dogs in our test figured out.

The mat measures 17″ x 21″, meaning your dog will have plenty of room to forage for treats and food. Incorporating a higher edge keeps your dog’s food on the mat. The polyester and cotton blend makes this a durable choice for larger dogs.

Pros:

  • Durable polyester blend
  • Thick material that stands on its own
  • Suction cups to prevent flipping
  • Machine washable

Cons:

  • Only one color option
  • We would prefer four suction cups, one on each corner

ALOYA Snuffle Mat

ALOYA’s Snuffle Mat is an excellent choice for your pup, allowing hours of fun in its large, green, grass blades. Yes, it does look like a salad, but your dog isn’t here for the foliage. They’re here to find all that delicious kibble you have hidden inside.

The ALOYA Snuffle Mat uses a felt construction, combined with a self-contained storage system that can allow this mat to take three different forms. You can set the mat flat, partially tighten the drawstring to create a bowl effect, or fully cinch the cord to store your mat.

The mat also features a non-slip bottom and is machine washable. Add to that the free dish toy, and you’ve got all you need to keep your pup entertained for hours!

Pros:

  • Delightful salad bowl design
  • Multiple configurations for feeding and storage
  • Non-slip bottom
  • Machine washable
  • Low price point

Cons:

  • Bowl configuration may lead to tipping
  • Felt and fleece construction lack the durability of other materials

AWOOF Snuffle Mat

If you’re looking for a sprawling, feature-rich snuffle mat, look no further. This mat measures 29″ by 29″, with plenty of unique pockets to keep your pet guessing. It also folds into a handy carrying case, cutting the storage size down when not in use.

The center of the mat features a flowering salad, allowing you to hide your dog’s food in large petals as well as the traditional felt grass border. Felt pockets and cups are featured at opposing corners, creating an additional four feeding games. You can scale this mat to your dog’s ability level.

This mat also includes straps for securing it to furniture. This helps prevent flipping, which is crucial if your dog figures out how to beat the puzzle.

Pros: 

  • The biggest mat in our test
  • Multiple feeding puzzles
  • Anchor straps
  • Machine washable

Cons:

  • Fleece and felt construction means less durability
  • Doesn’t feature a non-slip bottom

Bodely Feeding Snuffle Mat for Dogs

The Bodely Feeding Snuffle Mat is an excellent choice if you’re looking for the durability of a cotton-polyester blend in a larger mat. This mat is huge, measuring 17″ by 23″, making it the largest cotton-polyester mat in our lineup.

The mat features a non-stick bottom, is constructed from eco-friendly materials, and is machine washable. It has all the features you would expect from a quality snuffle mat, all at an affordable price of around $40.

As a bonus, Bodely will ship a free puzzle toy with every snuffle mat. So if you want to add even more variety at feeding time, you’ll have two different options for your furry friend.

While there are many features we do like in this mat, there’s no way to secure it to your floor or nearby furniture, which is a problem if your dog figures out how to tip the mat.

Pros:

  • Large size
  • Durable material
  • Machine washable
  • Bonus puzzle

Cons:

  • No border to corral your kibble
  • No method to secure the mat

Livekey Pet Snuffle Mat

For those looking for a little more color in their lives, the Livekey Snuffle Mat delivers with its bright pink and blue color scheme. Six feeding cups border the central feeding area, giving you control over how quickly your dog eats their meals. Each cup features two layers, giving you even more control.

Livekey uses a soft fleece for its primary material. The construction is durable, but it’s best to keep this mat away from aggressive chewers when you can’t provide adequate supervision. It still features non-slip backing material and is machine washable.

While this mat is a good choice for small to medium dogs, it may not be the best option for large breeds. With its small footprint measuring just 18″ by 18″, it is one of the smallest mats we tested.

Pros:

  • Multiple feeding puzzles
  • Bright colors
  • Machine washable

Cons:

  • Small size limits this mat to smaller breeds
  • Fleece construction may not hold up to aggressive play

Stellaire Chern Snuffle Mat

If a variety of feeding puzzles is what you’re after, the Stellaire Chern Snuffle mat has what you’re looking for. With seven different feeding puzzles and a spacious 24″ by 39″ footprint, this is the Cadillac of feeding mats. If you like to spoil your pooch, this may be the mat for you.

Sometimes additional puzzles mean more work for the pet parent. Lucky for you, the puzzles are easy to load with treats and kibble. We prefer a more symmetrical layout, but the Stellaire Chern mat still makes fair use of the available space.

The non-slip backing and convenient straps for rolling storage make this map a great choice, especially if you want various puzzles for your special canine.

Pros:

  • Puzzle variety
  • Large size
  • Integrated straps for storage and transport
  • Machine washable

Cons:

  • The layout is not aesthetically pleasing
  • Felt features may not be suitable for aggressive feeders

DogLemi Corner Snuffle

If space is a factor in your home or apartment, the DogLemi Corner Snuffle offers a compact solution. It offers your canine friend a variety of puzzles, and its wedge shape helps keep it securely in place.

This mat is definitely on the smaller side, with a total play area of just over 3′. The smaller size and its fleece construction are most appropriate for small to medium dogs.

While this snuffle mat offers various puzzles, certain features have to be smaller to accommodate the mat’s small footprint. As a result, the cups and fringe puzzles are going to hold most of your pet’s food and treats.

Dogs with flatter facial features, such as Pugs or Bulldog varieties, may have a more challenging time using the cup puzzles. This mat is best suited for breeds such as Chihuahuas and Pomeranians, who can make the most of all the puzzles.

Pros:

  • Innovative corner design
  • Variety of puzzles
  • Machine washable

Cons:

  • Narrow breed range
  • Fleece construction raises durability concerns

Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the most frequently asked questions that people have about snuffle mats include:

How often should I use my mat?

Your dog’s feeding and play habits will be the largest factor in how often you choose to use your mat. If your dog has a chronic problem with fast feeding, you’ll want to use your mat at every mealtime. If your focus is on giving your dog some mental stimulation via foraging, you may choose to limit the use of your mat to several days a week.

Do I need to wash my mat?

You should machine or hand wash your mat at least twice a week if you are using it daily. All of the mats in our list are machine washable, making the chore a breeze. Just be aware that these mats can take some time to dry.

Can I use my mat when my dog is alone?

While some mats in our review are more durable than others, it is never a good idea to leave your dog unsupervised with any cloth toy or feeding product. If your dog decides to shred its snuffle mat in your absence, it could develop an obstruction.

Gastrointestinal foreign bodies typically involve costly and potentially dangerous surgical intervention. For your dog’s safety and health, we only recommend these products for supervised play and feeding.

Conclusion

Snuffle mats are an excellent tool for slowing your dog’s feeding. At the same time, they exercise your dog’s brain, providing hours of foraging fun using your dog’s natural instincts. Foraging is a great way to provide your dog with mental stimulation and is an excellent activity to reduce boredom and anxiety-driven behaviors.

If your dog has issues with eating too quickly, or you want to give your dog a mental challenge when weather conditions prevent you from going outside, a snuffle mat is a great solution for keeping your pet active and engaged during feeding time.

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