Snuffle Mat vs. Slow Feeder Dog Bowl: Which is Better?

Updated: January 19, 2024

Which is better? Snuffle mats or slow feeder dog bowls? This is one of the tricky questions most pet parents face when purchasing their pet supplies. In this article, we’ll talk about what snuffle mats are, what slow feeder dog bowls are, when they are used, and which of the two is better.

slow feeding mat for dogs, forage mat for dogs, best snuffle mat for dogs

"Snuffle mats are considered puzzle toys for dogs that are specifically designed to hide dry dog food, kibbles, or treats to make mealtimes slower and more challenging."

Why Slow Down a Dog’s Eating?

According to the American Kennel Club, eating too quickly can be intensely risky for dogs, so aiding your furbaby to eat slowly and carefully is essential. Eating too quickly can:

  • Cause your dog to choke
  • Increase the risk of your furbaby suffering bloat (bloat happens when the stomach grows and may twist within the abdomen and this is instantly life-threatening as a dog can go into shock very quickly)
  • Cause pain and discomfort because when dogs swallow their meal too fast, they ingest air along with their food, and food and air expand in the stomach
  • Cause gastrointestinal issues and vomiting
  • slow feeder for dogs, slow eating dog bowl

    What Is a Snuffle Mat for Dogs?

    A snuffle mat for dogs, generally, is a mat with a bunch of fabric tied to it meant for many purposes. Snuffle mats are puzzle toys for dogs specifically designed as dog food mats to hide dry dog food, kibbles, or treats to make mealtimes slower and more challenging. Dogs enjoy using snuffle mats. Thess snuffle mats for dogs encourage them to use their innate capabilities and natural instincts to smell and look for food.

    There are different kinds of snuffle mats available in the market. A snuffle mat for dogs can come in different shapes and sizes. They may also be washable or made from fabric, rubber, or bendable plastic. The best snuffle mat for dogs will be made from a quality, non-abrasive material so that your dog’s nose is safe and the mat does not fall apart from use.

    Snuffle mats offer the following benefits to your furbaby:

  • Relieves stress
  • Offers mental stimulation for dogs
  • Promotes slower eating habits to minimize the risk of bloat
  • Encourages sniffing and foraging functions of the brain, which are fun and satisfying for your dog
  • Can double as dog enrichment toys
  • Helps with separation anxiety in dogs, as they provide a valuable distraction for your dog
  • When cleaning snuffle mats, you can simply wash it or shake it out to get rid of any food or kibble crumbs left in the mat. The best snuffle mat for dogs will be one that is machine washable and will not fall apart when cleaned.

    What Are Slow Feeder Dog Bowls?

    A slow feeder dog bowl is a food bowl for dogs that is designed specifically to slow dogs down while they are eating. They may also be called dog food puzzle bowls or puzzle food bowls. The goal is that the dog will not be able to gobble their food as fast and to make mealtimes lengthier but more enjoyable.

    Most slow feeder dog bowls, or dog food puzzle bowls, have raised patterns inside which dogs must eat around, thus hindering them from eating fast. Other dog feeders make use of ridges and other obstacles that your dog must deal with so they are able to eat. Some of these obstacles look like mini labyrinths, and others even look like games or puzzles with hard plastic edges. These bowls can help prevent serious medical conditions and circumstances.

    Some of the advantages of slow feeder bowls include:

    • Portion Control: Because your dog spends more time eating, they more easily feel full after eating because their stomach has caught up with the food.
    • Less Choking Hazards: Slowing down your furbaby’s eating means a much less likely chance of your dog choking on his or her food.
    • Improved Eating Habits: A slow feeder bowl pushes your furbaby to improve their eating habits into a safe amount of time.
    • Better Digestion: Speedy eaters are more likely to vomit. Slow feeder bowls present your dog the time to digest his or her food properly.
    • Better Memory Skills: These bowls not only slow down your dog while eating but can allow dogs to memorize the patterns.

    However, the advantages of a slow feeding dog bowl also come with some disadvantages:

  • Anxiety can sometimes kick in on dogs that eat fast because they are frustrated that their food is trapped between some obstacles. If your furbaby can’t get the food fast, they may attempt to flip over the slow feeder dog bowl, making a mess!
  • Some dogs find it difficult to grasp a complex feeder.
  • If your dog is extremely passionate while eating, there is a risk that they might damage their teeth if using a ceramic or stainless steel slow feeder dog bowl.
  • Some puzzles are too deep for dog snouts, making it impossible for the dogs to reach the food and causing frustration or even potential injury.
  • If you purchase a slow feeder dog bowl that is made from plastic, your furbaby may end up ingesting some parts of it.
  • Washing these bowls is a challenge.
  • dog slow feeder, slow feeder bowl, snuffle mat

    Which Is Better: a Slow Feeder Dog Bowl or a Snuffle Mat?

    Slow feeder dog bowls do not promote natural dog behaviors like the ability to smell, hunt, and forage. Unlike slow feeder dog bowls that contain the same puzzle every time, snuffle mats provide unique puzzles each time. Plus, they have the same benefits of slowing down meal time while encouraging natural instincts.

    Snuffle Mats Are Generally The Better Choice.

    Snuffle mats offer beneficial mental stimulation for dogs and slow feeding. According to Puppy Leaks, mental stimulation for dogs enriches your furbaby’s life by providing them with significant things and activities to do. These activities help curb boredom, as well as some behavioral issues like excessive chewing, digging, and barking.

    A snuffle mat for dogs offers the following advantages when used:

    • Slows down eating ​
    • Food settles uniquely and diversely every mealtime so your furbaby is always up to a new experience
    • Relies on your furbaby's innate foraging instincts​
    • Heightens your furbaby's powerful sense of smell​
    • Mentally stimulating ​
    • Provides a proportional challenge-reward ratio​
    • May substitute the classic dog food bowl
    • No specific type of dog training is needed for your dog to be able to use it

    Finding a Quality Snuffle Mat for Dogs

    Not all snuffle mats are created equal, so you have to look for the best snuffle mat for dogs to ensure a safe, beneficial activity. Pet Parents® Forager® Mats were created with safety and comfort in mind. Forager® Mats allow your furbaby to forage through the SoftSnout® non-abrasive material because that is exactly what they are meant to do. Dogs are innately supposed to wander, smell, and hunt for food.

    These snuffle mats bring out the natural foraging instincts that dogs, cats, and other domestic animals will use to search for food.​ Outwitting the usual food bowl to get to the scrumptious treats or meal is what prompts foraging instincts and skills of your dog. Foraging and working for the reward of food is what keeps your furbaby coming back to this product.​

    Additionally, this Forager® Mat has considerable advantages over similar products. You may use it as a slow feeding mat for dogs if you have a fast, messy eater. Using the Forager® Mat instead of a traditional dog bowl will help reduce the risk of bloat. This dog food mat may also be used as a puzzle to help mentally stimulate your dog, especially if they are suffering from mobility issues, anxiety, exhibiting destructive behaviors, or recovering from surgery.​

    The Forager® Mat uses soft, durable fabric; You no longer have to raise a concern about your dog’s nose or gums while they are foraging. SoftSnout® is soft to not scratch or cut, but still strong enough to be chewed, stretched, and stepped on without the chance of it becoming a choking hazard for your dog.​ The Forager® Mat is triple-stitched to minimize the risk of your dog consuming foreign bodies if they are known to tear up toys, blankets, or rugs. So, even if your dog loves to pull at the the snuffle mat, it will not fall apart and become a chocking hazard. 

    If you love the bowl shape, you can also use a Forager® Bowl. These have the same great features and materials and cinch for easy travel. Excellent for pet parents who are often on-the-go, the Forager® Bowl is a convenient snuffle bowl for travel.

    "Unlike slow feeder dog bowls contain the same puzzle every time, snuffle mats provide unique puzzles each time."

    slow feeder dog bowl, dog food mat

    Both snuffle mats and slow feeder dog bowls have their share of advantages. The best snuffle mat for dogs will be one that mentally stimulates your furbaby and is made of high-quality materials. Unlike slow feeder dog bowls which have the same puzzle every time and doesn't stimulate their natural instincts, snuffle mats provide unique enrichment every time. Snuffle mats for dogs act as a slow feeding mat for dogs. They can replace slow feeder dog bowls and still provide the same benefits with extra dog enrichment and fun.