Feeding dogs a breed-specific diet is becoming increasingly popular. We also recognise that one of the ways to keep our dogs happy, engaged and occupied is to provide them with enrichment toys. So many of these toys are stuffable and are being filled with cooked or raw meat. These toys can be fiddly and messy to fill, and store.
Vegan owners are often torn between wanting to feed their dogs in this way and their dislike of using, handling and storing animal products.
Filling enrichment toys is a task that many Vegans find unpleasant especially when the toys can be fiddly to fill
So how can you limit your handling of meat and meat products and store them away from your own foods in the fridge?
Most meat-based dog foods are safe to be stored at an ambient temperature until opened. Once opened to remain fresh and safe they should be stored in the fridge or freezer. Check the packaging or visit the producer’s website for more information.
When it comes to raw food this should always be refrigerated or frozen.
Care should always be taken with handling any raw meat products. Many people find that the use of gloves makes the job easier and some of the best are the lightweight type that can be washed after use. The easiest way to do this is to simply wash your hands really well whilst you are wearing them, rinse and dry as if drying hands on a towel before removing.
TIP If you remove a frozen roll of food from the freezer it is easier to remove the packaging whilst its still frozen
Snip the ends (often closed with metal clamps) and then peel the plastic off.
This is far less messy than doing it once the roll has defrosted
There is no wastage as nothing is left in the plastic
Easy to rinse the plastic wrapper before re-cycling
Once free of packaging it can be placed in a container whilst it defrosts
To keep your worktops meat-free, consider a washable worktop protector. This way you know that there has been no contamination with your worksurfaces/ countertops. If you are using the SkooPrep® mat any bits can be tipped in the bin or, if supervised pop the mat on the floor and let your dog help with the 'pre- wash'
It can then be hand washed or placed in the dishwasher, reducing the need to use paper towels to clean up.
Create a drawer, space or prep box to store utensils that you use to prepare your dog’s food. It makes it quick and easy to have everything to hand, plus there is no concern around cross-contamination.
"You don't want to be enjoying your evening meal only to realise that the spatula you used to prep your meal is the same one you used to prep your dog’s dinner!"
Filling toys ( without handling meat products!)
If your food is in a sachet you can try snipping the corner off and squeezing straight into the toy.
The other option is to use the No Fuss Fill® with its wide top and nozzle.
It is easy to fill, has been designed and tested to work with many well-known brands and types of dog food.
It even works with minced raw!
If your dog has food that is packaged in a tray, Forthglade and Naturo both use a tray, then you can simply press the No Fuss Fill® straight into the food. Using the fillable end push into the food a couple of times to quickly fill. Then simply pop on the plunger top and you are good to go, or in this case, good to fill!
Storing Filled toys
If you are preparing toys to be used later they need to be stored safely.
Even food that is safe to be stored at an ambient temperature unopened will now need to be stored in your fridge or freezer.
The SkooPrep® range has racks to store your lick mats and stuffable toys in the fridge and freezer without drips and leaks. Whilst the Prep’n’go re-usable bags are ideal for storing awkwardly shaped toys avoiding contamination with human food. They are also great when you need to head out with your dog and want to take an enrichment toy with you.
Some toys have nooks and crannies that even your dog might struggle to get to. There is nothing worse than trying to poke around removing discarded meat from a toy before you wash it!
You can avoid meat getting stuck in your dog’s toys by dropping in some dry kibble, treats or chopped veggies into the toy first. Soopa Pets make some great Vegan treats, or you can make your own. Alternatively, chopped carrots work well, preventing the meat from getting stuck in the bottom of your toy.
Always clean toys thoroughly and check for wear and tear at the same time replacing any that are damaged.
Choosing the right dog food for your dog can be a minefield.
A great site for comparing foods is All About Dog Food
For more information and ideas on enrichment toys and activities check out @enrichingpaws on Instagram run by veterinary nurse Beth featuring her two dogs. Fancy making your own treats take a look at the recipe page- and if your dog has a favourite recipe upload it, the best recipes win prizes!