To continue our theme from the last blog, we decided to venture in to the land of enrichment and treat/food dispenser toys. We mentioned in the last blog that they make an excellent source of fun on a summer evening play session but in reality, they are a fantastic idea any time of the year and under all circumstances! This certainly includes meal time!
Pet pigs get bored quickly, especially when they do not have a companion with them 24/7. Some pigs are satisfied with a companion of another species and even a rare friendship that one never thought possible. It is a known fact that most of our porcine friends do better with another pig companion though. When pigs don't have "their human" or another animal companion to exert energy on/towards, they can get destructive and overbearing! This can lead to highly destructive and agitated behavior because the pig needs stimulation to thrive. Pigs really need to be stimulated, especially in their younger years when energy expenditure is a must.
We also run in to overfeeding issues frequently in pet pigs. Not only do indoor pigs rarely get the exercise they need to maintain a healthy weight but we tend to easily overfeed them because they are always acting hungry or are at our heels while we are cooking/snacking ourselves. It is really an easy thing to do when it comes to over feeding a pig! It is always much easier to maintain a healthy weight from the start than to try and put your pet on a diet after the problem is already causing health issues. In both cases, a simple enrichment toy can help or be a stepping stone to better weight management and behavior modification solutions.
These toys can be used as a treat dispenser for a fun and interactive play session OR they can actually be used as a feeding tool. In the wild, pigs spend a lot of time foraging for food. This is a natural behavior that also assists the pig in exercise, as it usually has to search and root for it's food source. Domesticated pigs rarely ever get that needed life management skill; why would they when they can just look to us to indulge their every food need? Treat dispensers are widely used for a lot of different animals. They combat boredom, aid in fighting obesity, offer exercise and provide brain power, provoking activity. More and more toys continue to emerge on the market and although their primary target may be dogs and horses... pet pigs can benefit immensely from them!
One toy may be one pigs new best friend, but the next pig will hate it and ignore it completely. Don't give up, try another! Each pig has a different and unique personality and will thus desire a different toy. What one owner may love, another will despise... it makes us unique, not difficult. You must make sure that your pet is hungry when first trying the toy out. Why would you want to play excessively with a food dispenser if you just ate dinner? I would certainly find it more work than it was worth if I was no longer that hungry, a pig will feel same way! Make sure your pig is hungry and a treat or food you know they already enjoy, is placed in the dispenser. A hungry pig will thoroughly enjoy these toys and offerings! It will also slow down meal time and add exercise to an overweight pig's routine.
Here are our top 10 picks for pet pig treat/food dispensers. We graded them on their ease of use, ease of cleaning, durability and keeping the pig interested. As always and regardless of durability, please watch your pig while playing with these toys and make sure they are not able to tear them apart. The title of each toy is actually a link to the store where you can buy it. So don't forget to click on the link if you are interested in purchasing!
This toy offers a very unique experience as it is so differently shaped from all the ball like dispensers out there, some animals really enjoy it! However, it is a bit hard to fill and even harder to keep clean. With that said, it is still very durable and entertaining, some pigs may love it! About $8.00
This toy is highly rated in the dog world because of its long durability and the treats that you can buy with it. However, we don't recommend the matching treats for pet pigs! This toy will take smaller manufactured feed or food stuff that is hard but also small. Not easy to clean and once super dirty, will most likely need to be thrown away. It is recommended for larger pet pigs due to the need for chewing and ability to hit harder, in order to remove or knock out the treats. It does come in a small/medium/large offering. About $12.00
This is a great toy that will keep your pet pig entertained with two dispensing chambers and adjustable difficulty level! It does have a weighted bottom, so it will wobble. With that said, it is hard to fill and keep clean. After extended use it may need to be discarded because the hard plastic, although durable, can cause minor cuts or irritation on the nose because of the small teeth marks that are left behind on the chewed plastic. Comes in two sizes. Between $9-15.00 (depends on size)
This fun ball is easy to fill and easy to clean! It holds up to 2 cups of food and unscrews at the top. It also allows for change in the difficulty level, this way you can easily customize it for each pet. Recommended for pets over 25 pounds. About $15 for the large.
This toy is weighted for erratic movement which tends to keep more animals interested longer. Some pigs may actually be fearful of it when and if it pops back at them. There are different levels and chambers so you can adjust how hard your pet has to work for the food/treat. It is very durable and easy to clean. We would recommend this for medium sized pigs and for indoor use. You could use it outdoors as long as your pet was on a harder surface while it played (works best on more solid surfaces). $8.99
A great ball for those that really enjoy chasing the toy around. Great for exercise too! This ball is easy to fill and wont leave marks on hard wood, wont make noise on the floor, but can also be used outside. A little more difficult to keep clean. Runs about $9.00
This is a wonderful toy that slows down quick eaters and is ideal for rationed meal portions. This toy holds a lot of food and has a couple different chambers. The Snak-A-Bal is very durable and best for medium to larger pigs. This toy runs about $37.00
The Magic Mushroom is extremely fun and allows for many different treats and foods to be used in it. It is extremely durable and easy to clean. The toy can be adjusted for varying difficulty. We recommend for pets over 25 pounds. Comes in both a medium/large size $12
A nylon treat and meal dispensing toy that is ideal for feeding and curbing destructive behavior. Easy to clean, dishwasher safe and provides an easy screw off top to insert food. The large holds 1.5 cups of food and the small .5 of a cup. Between $13-16 (depends on size)
A rather challenging toy and a bit pricy but very durable and fits regular manufactured food inside well. This toy is $17.50 for a large size but worth the money in the end! For some reason, pigs seem to really dig the cube shape.
Other Treat/Food Toys That Deserve a Look...
Horseman's Pride Amazing Graze Treat Toy- $39.99
Nose It Funnel Fill for Horses- $43.00
Busy Buddy Barnacle Dog Treat Toy- $10.00
Interactive IQ Treat Ball- $9.00
Ethical Pet Seek-A-Treat Puzzle-$9.00
Kyjen Paw Hide Mini Treat Puzzle Training Toy-$8.00
Smartmark Treat Dispensing Pickle Pocket- $17.00
It's your turn! What are some of your pet pig's favorite toys or treat dispensers? Which ones work best for you and which ones do you recommend staying away from and why?
The Hog Blog...
Jodi will be keeping up the blog but we are more interested in guest bloggers! Please contact us via email if you may be interested! Check back to see who our guest blogger is and what topic we will be exploring.