The Best Puzzle Feeders for Dogs (and Why Your Dog Needs One) 

Even though I was only ten years old when we got my German shepherd dog, Clancy, back in the early 2000s, I knew early on that you could NOT leave Clancy’s food bag open. Even though we stored her food in the garage, a place she rarely went, we had to be careful because Clancy was a world-class food guzzler. She snuck into the garage once when she was a couple years old and my found her eating food right out of the bag — we had no idea how much she had eaten!

Later in life, we had to put Clancy on a special diet because she grew overweight quickly when given too much food.

Eira, my Alaskan shepherd, used to feel more or less indifferent to food. But recently, she started really adoring mealtimes. So much, in fact, that she chomped the food within five minutes. I’d notice her outside an hour or so later, vomiting.

This concerned me, and after talking with her vet I realized she was probably eating too fast. When a dog eats too quickly, she swallows a lot of air along with her kibble. This can cause stomach upset and even a serious condition called Gastric Dilatation Volvulus. After bloating with food and air, the stomach can twist, causing extreme pain and discomfort in your dog. If the stomach ruptures, it can be deadly.

I definitely did not want Eira to experience any of this, so I looked into ways to get her to eat more slowly. That’s when I discovered puzzle feeders. Puzzle feeders slow down your dog’s rate of eating because they make it harder (and more fun) to extract food to eat.

We tested puzzle feeders and have rounded up six of the best puzzle feeders out there!


Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo-Bowl

I ordered this fun feeder for Eira because of its many ridges and swirls, and its huge size and shallow depth. All of those features together make it difficult for a dog to extract bits of kibble to eat.

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Here’s the Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo-Bowl filled with Eira’s breakfast kibble.

It’s pretty, isn’t it? It’s easy to pour kibble straight into the bowl — you don’t have to organize it into all the ridges and bumps. My toddler can even do it (and has done it twice now! He loves feeding Eira with this bowl).

In the video below, you can watch Eira try her purple puzzle feeder for the first time.

I love how she has to sniff out the grooves, trying to find a spot that holds food — she can’t just look and see. This gives her body more time to digest the kibble she’s already eaten before she goes back for more. And she has to turn her head and navigate her tongue into the grooves in order to get the food out. It’s fantastic! I was originally only going to use this puzzle feeder some of the time, but I think I’ll use it for one meal every day. I don’t want Eira to figure it out too quickly and get a routine going where she gets food out almost as fast as before.

The thing I really love about this bowl is its sturdy construction. It’s firm and well-built, and the rubber grips on the bottom prevent it from sliding all over the floor when Eira eats.

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PAPIFEED Slow Feed Dog Bowl with Digital Scale

If your dog is on a diet in which you need to know the exact amount of food she’s given, and you need her to slow her eating, then this is the bowl for you. The bowl contains three parts: a scale that holds a steel bowl that fits a fun feeder insert. The scale has a digital screen to tell you exactly how much kibble is inside the bowl.

This is particularly helpful for senior dogs with obesity or diabetes, conditions that require special diets and restricted calories for optimal health. It also stands a few inches off the ground, giving your dog — especially smaller dogs — a feeding surface that’s more level with their height.

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Neater Brand Slow Feeder and Accessories

This feeder is designed like an egg carton, but much sturdier. The kibble pools into the grooves and the rounded, raised bumps keep your dog from reaching the kibble too quickly. This feeder would be a fun one to combine with the purple Outward Hound Slo-Bowl: the more fun feeders you have, the longer it’ll take your dog to figure them all out. You can rotate them every day if you want!

For the Neater Slow Feeder, you have the option of purchasing the slow feeder by itself, the slow feeder with a raised base, or the slow feeder with a raised base and legs.

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KEKS Slow Feeder for Small Dogs

If your dog is small, you’ll love this slow feeder from KEKS. It’s a silicone mat shaped like a fish with raised bars to help your small dog take her time eating — plus it comes with a small metal bowl that fits on the mat and can hold water. The silicone keeps the mat from slipping all over the place, and the combined food and water areas is a convenient setup for your small pooch. If you deal with a lot of food spills and splashing, this mat will help eliminate those messy issues. And if you have more than one small dog, you can buy two of these and put them together to make a pretty circle.

It’s easy to remove the steel bowls from the silicone bowl holders and clean them and the mat separately, which is also a huge plus.

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FAOUGESS Dog Food Dispenser Ball

I decided to buy this awesome puzzle feeder for Eira in addition to the Outward Hound Fun Bowl so I could switch up the puzzle feeders and keep Eira on her toes. What I love about this food dispensing ball is that it’s virtually impossible for Eira to ever figure out; instead of the dog getting the kibble, the kibble falls out of a small hole when the ball is rolled or spun on the floor.

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Eira’s FAOUGESS food dispenser puzzle feeder. See the hole on the bottom? That’s how food gets out. There are smaller holes on the top for smaller-sized kibble.

Inside the puzzle feeder there are ridges and grooves to keep the food from reaching the exit hole too easily. And the bottom portion of the dispenser is weighted, which enables Eira to bat it all over the floor in a fun way without it rolling under the couch or table too quickly.

Here’s a video of Eira eating with her FAOUGESS food dispenser puzzle feeder.

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While I love this puzzle feeder, I only recommend using it when you know your dog is truly going to eat right then and there. Otherwise you’ll end up with kibble all over the floor and a dog uninterested in helping you clean it up! You can open the feeder from the top to put food in, and from the bottom to clean it. You can also adjust the opening valve to make it smaller, in case it’s too easy for your dog to get kibble out as is.

Another neat thing about this puzzle feeder is that it comes with a bonus clicker, which is random but also cool. Like the dispensing ball, the clicker is well made and sturdy.

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Bonus clicker. 

The price is very reasonable, for this and all the puzzle feeders on our list, so it’s easy to purchase two or more to keep your dog on her paws.

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Reeple Interactive Foraging Puzzle Feeder Game

This puzzle feeder is the coolest one in the bunch, and it’s perfect for dogs who are too smart and figure out standard puzzle feeders with ease. The kibble goes into a container suspended over a maze, and the dog must make the container spin so that it releases pieces of kibble, which then fall into the puzzle-feeder bowl. It’s basically a two-step puzzle feeder, and it not only makes your dog eat more slowly, but it also makes mealtime fun for your dog — and for you to watch!

The puzzle feeder comes with a spoon that makes it easy to scoop kibble into the container, so you can still prepare your dog’s breakfast or dinner with ease.

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Have you ever used a puzzle feeder for your dog? Did it help with stomach discomfort? I’ve noticed that in the days since Eira started eating her meals with her puzzle feeders, she has stopped vomiting! This makes me so happy. I’m thankful that there are special puzzle feeders out there that not only challenge a dog’s brain but help her body digest food more slowly — and therefore, more healthfully.

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Puzzle feeders are so worth it for dogs who eat too quickly, and can be fun for any dog, even if they don’t have issues with eating too fast. 

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