The interactive bowl also called a slow feeder bowl is an enrichment accessory that every dog and cat owner should own.
Nowadays, most animals have a bowl where they have no effort to make to get their food. This way of doing things is boring for your pet since it is natural for them to search and work for their food.
This is why it is important to be creative in the way we feed them, to prevent our pets from getting bored.
There are many bowls and interactive toys that can be found in pet stores. Several models are available in many forms and with different levels of difficulty.
Whatever the bowl or the toy is used, the important thing is to offer interactive feeding. You can also use your creativity to make your own!
What Is the Interactive Bowl Used For?
The uses of an interactive bowl:
- Feeding Bowl
- Treat dispenser
- Training aid
- Distributor of supplement or medication
- Activity for troubleshooting
Using an interactive bowl to feed your pet instead of a regular bowl will benefit him. Also, it is possible to use it to give him treats, supplements or medication.
It’s a great way to train your dog and keep him busy. For example, you can give an interactive bowl before going for a walk or before training. This way, your dog will be more tempted to listen to you, because he will have spent his excess energy and will be able to concentrate better.
It can also be used to redirect his attention when he has unwanted behaviour such as chewing, barking at the window, digging in the garden and destroying objects or furniture.
In addition, most behavioural problems are due to a lack of mental and physical stimulation. So by allowing your pet to spend himself physically and mentally, you will reduce problematic behaviours.
It’s a great tool for troubleshooting if you can’t go on a walk with your dog for reasons like:
- Rain or thunderstorm
- A wound
- Joint problem
Interactive bowls and toys will never replace physical activity. But they can be a good way to spend your dog’s energy in the event of any problem. The wonderful thing about interactive feeding is that your pet will be mentally and physically stimulated.
What Are Other Ways to Provide Interactive Feeding to Your Pet?
Sniffing mats, licking mats and interactive toys, such as a Kong, are other ways to provide interactive feeding to your pet.
You can also hide kibble around the house or in a towel or toss them on the floor or in his bed.
There are many creative ideas you can find to make your interactive bowl with simple household items.
What Are the Benefits of Using an Interactive Bowl?
Interactive feeding helps enrich your pet’s life. The more you use it, the more benefits he will get from it.
Here are the benefits of using an interactive bowl:
- Increase the duration of meals
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Stimulates the brain
- Helps to relax
- Aids digestion
It is dangerous for your pet to eat too quickly. This can cause choking or gastrointestinal blockage.
By using an interactive bowl instead of a normal bowl, your pet will be able to work for his food instead of swallowing it in 10 seconds.
Also, by increasing the duration of meals, you will at the same time facilitate his digestion.
Stimulating his brain will keep him busy and reduce his level of stress or anxiety. He’ll be busy searching rather than thinking about what’s stressing him out, as long as the bowl isn’t too complicated.
If it’s hard for your pet to reach his food, it can be stressful. Be sure to start with an easy interactive bowl so he can benefit from it the most.
Stimulating your pet’s brain is a great way to develop his problem-solving skills. If your pet manages to get his food quickly from the interactive bowl, then you can increase the difficulty level.
Some dogs are known for their intelligence, such as the border Collie and the Poodle.
If you know he will have no difficulty with an easy bowl, choose a more complicated one.
As you increase in difficulty, introduce the new bowl by demonstrating how to use it. Open the doors for him to better understand how to solve the puzzle.
He will have a much more fun experience if you accompany him the first time and it will be less stressful for him.
What Type of Interactive Bowl Should I Choose for My Pet?
Easier bowls are those where kibble or treats are not hidden. They are easily accessible with the tongue and do not need to use their muzzle or paw to find food.
You can have interactive bowls for beginners, intermediates, advanced and experts.
What Should I Do if My Pet Does Not Want to Use the Interactive Bowl?
Several causes can be at the origin of this problem. Usually, this is often because the owner leaves food in the bowl at all times.
By doing this, your pet will find his food less appealing and may not want to work to get his kibble.
Here are some tips that might help your pet to use his interactive bowl.
Have a Routine
It is best to have a set time for meals. Be sure to feed him his servings at the same time each day.
Thus, your pet will apprehend his meals and will be much more excited at the thought of eating.
Some owners may give their pets too much kibble and think they are not eating enough.
It is best to give 2 servings per day for adults or 3 servings for puppies and kittens.
If you have any questions about the amount, you should consult your vet. He will give you the exact quantity for your pet according to his weight and age. By calculating his portion, you will be able to control his weight and his desire to eat.
If your pet is too young, he might not want to work for his food because the task is too complicated.
Offer High-Quality Kibble
Medium-quality kibble is often less appetizing. Higher quality ones contain more protein, fibre and minerals.
Providing high-quality kibble is proven to help keep your pet healthy, reduce vet costs and extend their lifespan.
Put on Toppers
Toppers are high-quality food, such as freeze-dried meat. They can be used as treats, but they also serve to increase the nutritional value of meals.
In addition, cats and dogs love them and they are a very good way to encourage them to eat or to train them.
The Quebec company PureBites offers several types of high-quality freeze-dried treats. You just have to put a few pieces on his kibble to attract your pet to eat.
(Dre) HIVIN, Bénédicte. “Votre chien refuse de manger ses croquettes : que faire ?”, Wanimo Véto, 2011.
HUNT, Rebecca L., WHITESIDE, Helen, PRANKEL, Susanne. “Effects of Environmental Enrichment on Dog Behavior: Pilot Study”, MDPI, 2022.
ARHANT, Christine, ALTRICHTER, Bernadette, LEHENBAUER, Sandra, WAIBLINGER, Susanne, SCHMIED-WAGNER, Claudia, YEE, Jason. “Balancing skill against difficulty – behavior, heart rate and heart rate variability of shelter dogs during two different introductions of an interactive game”, Science Direct, 2020.