Treat Toys Provide Enrichment and Mental Exercise for your Pet

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Like it or not, winter’s here and we’ll be spending more time indoors with our pets.  Older pets and those with injuries or disease are usually more homebound than their more physically-abled pals.  Whether due to weather, injury, disease, or age, pets that need to stay indoors can benefit greatly from enrichment activities and mental stimulation.

Enrichment activities are tasks that improve a pet’s quality of life and activities in which they are excited and eager to participate (S. Kelly, 2019).  These activities are safe and require more mental work than physical but studies have shown that mental activities can also cause physical exertion.  I remember being physically exhausted after taking my final exams in school!  So, mentally exercising your pup with fun and motivating activities can also make them tired; it’s a win/win.

When my Lab, Haley, was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and her body was no longer able to keep up with her will to run and play, I had to come up with some other activities to keep her busy.  Haley was extremely motivated by food and many games and puzzles involve treats.  But since Haley was already a little chunky and I couldn’t exercise her as much as I needed, I wanted to be really careful about controlling the amount she ate.  In my search, I found some really great treat toys that helped to mentally (and physically) challenge Haley, that slowed down and controlled her eating, and that kept her busy and calm for more than just a few minutes.  Haley loved them, and by the time I took the toys away, she was ready for a nice, long, and well-deserved nap. 

The Great Things About Treat Toys

  • They reduce boredom and focus energy in a productive and low-risk manor (definitely preferred over chewing my shoes or rummaging through the trash bin).
  • They help manage food intake and obesity while stimulating and tiring the brain and jaw (great for chewers). 
  • They strengthen self-confidence (success is rewarded with a small treat).
  • You choose the treat and level of challenge that’s best for your dog.  There are lots of fun and stimulating choices to peak the interest of any dog.
  • Many treat toys are played with in one spot so they are great activities for injured and older pets and those that have trouble getting around. 

Let’s explore some indoor enrichment activities to keep your pet mentally active, busy, and happy.   

 Before we get started, please note that these are not chew toys.  Supervise your pet during use and take the toy away once your pet is tired of playing. 

Vital Vet Recommendations

These toys are our recommendations in no specific order.  The choice is up to you and your pet.


  • 9 hidden treat compartments
  • Works best with small treats or kibble
  • Fun for all breeds, sizes, and ages
  • Easy to clean with soap and water
  • BPA, PVA, and phthalate free


  • The sawtooth anti-skid surface design fits the tooth shape of most dogs and helps clean their teeth (bonus 🙂
  • Made for kibble or small treats but you can also stick something like peanut butter in the center (2 treats in one toy 🙂
  • Doesn’t squeak
  • Easy to clean and made of natural, non-toxic rubber


  • Really fun hide-and-seek board that’s bound to challenge even the smartest pooch
  • Non-removable parts make it safe and easy
  • Made from durable plastic, BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free


  • Great design for tugging, chewing, and sniffing 
  • Power-grip suction allows you to anchor the toy on the floor or wall 
  • Bristled ball also helps to clean your dog’s teeth


  • Adjustable levels of difficulty
  • Has unpredictable motion with a feather lure
  • Engages your cat’s natural hunting instincts and keeps them mentally sharp
  • Easy to fill and phthalate-free

    There you have it!  There are lots of choices, but these are some of our favorites.  No matter which is your pet’s choice of toys, it’ll be a fun experience your pet can do over and over again.

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    Resource: Canine Enrichment: The Book your Dog Needs You to Read. Kelly, S. 2019; Shay Kelly publication.