8 Great Dog Bowl Alternatives (And Why Your Dog Might Love One)

Updated: Apr. 26, 2024

Why are there so many alternative dog bowls, and exactly what are they used for? Our expert breaks down the options.

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Puzzle Dog Feeder Gettyimages 1217573262
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All About Dog Bowl Alternatives

Have you ever noticed the variety of vessels that exist to feed your dog? Some can be used instead of your traditional dog bowl, while others are best for supplementing it. Each targets specific mental and physical challenges while freshening your dog’s daily routine.

Herding breeds, for example, are extremely intelligent and anxiety-prone, and so may benefit from the mental stimulation puzzle feeders provide. And dogs that struggle with additional weight can benefit from an intricate-patterned bowl that helps them eat more slowly and feel fuller quicker.

No matter what needs your dog may have, each of these bowl alternatives has something to offer. Interested in spicing up your best friend’s daily routine? Keep reading to see which product is a perfect fit!

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Slow-Feeder Bowls

Does your dog scarf down all the food as soon as you put the bowl down? Try a slow feeder bowl with various 3D patterns on the bottom designed to help your dog eat at a slower pace.

Eating slowly has many health benefits, including decreasing vomiting, bloating, indigestion and even weight loss. These bowls are good for mental stimulation, too. Their puzzle-like design encourages foraging behaviors similar to what dogs do in the wild.

The JASGOOD Dog Feeder bowl is a fine option with a durable dishwasher-safe design and multiple color options. It comes in small and large. Surprise your dog with this DIY automatic dog feeder.

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Interactive Puzzle Games

If your pup is too smart for their own good, and tends to stress or destroy things when bored, try an interactive puzzle game. They call on dogs’ natural hunting instincts to engage their problem-solving skills. Hide food in the compartments, then let your pup spend hours figuring out how to unlock them to get at his treasured treat.

The Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound puzzle game is a great option because it features three difficulty levels, is nearly indestructible and has no removable parts (which decreases choke risk).

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Lick Mats

If your dog loves to lick you, consider investing in a lick mat. Smear peanut butter, yogurt or wet dog food onto the surface of the mat, leave it on the floor or prop it on the wall, then let your little licker do their thing to get the food off.

Lick mats are great for relieving boredom and anxiety. They help maintain oral health, too, by gently rubbing against gums and teeth. The mats don’t replace brushing your dog’s teeth, but are a great addition to your brushing routine, since manual abrasion is the best way to reduce plaque accumulation in dogs.

One to try: LickiMat Wobble, which is durable, inexpensive and easy to clean.

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Treat Dispenser Balls

What dog out there doesn’t love treats? But if you keep doling treats out every time they look cute (which is always), then you risk adding extra pounds and shortening their lifespan.

Treat dispenser balls are a great way to allow the treat but work off the extra calories it’s delivering, too. The design is simple but genius: The more your dog plays with the ball, the more treats fall out for them to enjoy. The Volacopets Interactive Set offers great variety, allowing you to mix it up and see which type of dispenser your dog likes best.

Tip: To make this a low-calorie toy, try stuffing it with some of your dog’s daily kibble allowance.

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Hide-and-Seek Mats

In the wild, dogs would be intensely scavenging and sniffing the grass and ground to find their next meal. These behaviors are especially true for terrier breeds, historically used for scenting trails or hunting small prey.

Hide-and-seek mats like the machine-washable Emarth Snuffle Mat encourage this behavior while offering your dog mental stimulation and enrichment. It slows their eating speed, too, which can decrease bloating and indigestion and even aid in weight loss.

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Wobble Bowls

Designed to continuously change position as your dog eats, wobble bowls add mental stimulation and enrichment to mealtime. It’s a great solution for dogs who become easily bored or have separation anxiety. The more you engage your dog’s mind, the less anxiety they will typically have.

Try the Alyster Slow Feeder wobble bowl, which comes in various sizes. It’s good for cats, too!

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The classic Kong toy has grown in popularity over the past few years and rightfully so. These durable rubber dog toys have a hollow center designed to be filled with your dog’s favorite treat, such as squeeze cheese, peanut butter or even their regular kibble.

Once filled, the Kong is irresistible to dogs. They’ll lick and sniff it for hours trying to reach what’s inside, making it great for weight loss, boredom, separation anxiety or even just spicing up a game of fetch. They’re also known to be one of the most durable dog toys on the market. So if you have a notorious toy destroyer, definitely consider a Kong!

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DIY Dog Bowl Alternative

The easiest homemade interactive toy? Your standard metal muffin pan. Sprinkle food or treats into it right-side up, or flip it upside-down to create a puzzle bowl. (Add some sticky tack to the bottom to keep it in place, if needed.) Another idea: Use it to freeze dog treats in water to create “pupcicles” — a perfect activity on a hot summer day.

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