Pros: Strong construction, provides mental stimulation - my dogs really like this treat-dispensing toy.
Cons: Supervise dogs to prevent problems with chewed-off bits.
I'm always searching for interactive toys that can keep dogs occupied in positive behaviors. A company called Star Mark Pet Products claims that its Everlasting Treat Ball, will "stop destructive boredom behaviors." While neither of my dogs is destructive, each of them needs mental stimulation or they will exhibit signs of boredom (barking, pacing, etc.) So, I decided to try this product.
What Is It?
The Everlasting Treat Ball serves several purposes. It can dispense small loose dog treats and kibble, or it can securely hold larger treats specifically made for the ball, challenging the dog by forcing him to work harder for his treats.
The ball is made of a heavy duty material that is supposed to be good for the dog's dental hygiene because it "removes tartar, cleans teeth, freshens breath." I haven't used this product long enough to attest to those claims, but they seem reasonable, considering the texture is similar to other products with similar results.
The treats made for the product come in 4 flavors: liver, chicken, veggie, and vanilla mint. My dogs have tried the liver and chicken, and their reactions to both have been positive.
How Does It Work?
The toy has a hollow center chamber. Dry dog food or small dog treats can be placed in this chamber. When the dog rolls the ball along the floor, the food falls out. This is similar to other food-dispensing toys. But the Everlasting Treat Ball goes a step further.
There are ridges on the inside of two sides of the ball. A specially disc-shaped Everlasting Treat fits snugly into the ridge. Using two at once closes up the ball entirely. The dog has to chew on the discs and maneuver them out of the ridges. This occupies the dog for quite some time, because the treats are solid and not easily breakable. If dog food is placed in the center chamber and then two disc treats are placed in the ridges, the dog must first disengage the Everlasting Treats before getting to the kibble inside. A double treat!
Two treat discs come with the ball. In addition, the company sells Everlasting Treat sets that fit the ball. I bought a set that contains a 4-inch edible stick, both ends of which screw into one of the disc-shaped treats (resembling a barbell of sorts.) The stick slides through the center of the ball, and the two discs on the end secure it in place. Once again, this gives the dog a double treat - dislodge the discs, then much on the stick treat.
Are They Nutritional?
I'm not overly impressed with the ingredients, but since this isn't a big part of my dogs' diets, I don't mind as much as I would if it were their dog food. Main (not all) ingredients are wheat gluten, gelatin, water, natural flavoring, corn gluten meal, garlic powder, & dried brewer's yeast. The product claims minimum 62% crude protein.
Do My Dogs Like It?
My younger dog, Kaleb, loves these things! Evidently, the treats are very tasty. I watched him go at it for almost 90 minutes one night. For a while, I was afraid he wasn't going to get the discs out, but he eventually did. Generally, he has a short attention span, but this certainly kept him occupied.
My 13-year-old Shetland sheepdog becomes easily bored and needs lots of mental stimulation, and this ball has proven to be an excellent toy for him as well. He gives up on it a bit easier than Kaleb, so I tend not to use the discs as frequently with him, as they present the biggest challenge. After all, if he can't experience success, he'll ignore the toy altogether.
Where and How Much?
I haven't seen this particular toy in stores, but the ball and the replacement treats are available online. The best prices I found are at Amazon.com. Prices there are $12.99 (small ball), $19.99 (medium), and $24.99 (large.) Replacement treats (2-disc packs) for those sizes run $3.20, $6.99, and $7.99. My experience with the discs is that they last a very long time,.
My Final Reaction?
Bottom line is that both my dogs like this treat dispenser. It keeps them occupied and they seem to enjoy the taste of the treats and the challenge of getting to the inner core, where I always put a special treat that I know they really like.
I only have one reservation: the discs are a size that could potentially be swallowed and lodge in a dog's throat, especially as he chews off pieces. As a result, I don't recommend leaving the dog unsupervised with the disc treats. Perhaps other more traditional treats would work in your absence, with the discs only being used when you can keep an eye on your dog.
I don't let my dogs play with this every day, but they do have access to it several times a week and they get very excited when they see it. I only bought one, so they have to take turns for the time being. I'm impressed enough with the toy that I have decided to purchase a second one so that each of the boys has his own.