Is your dog a fast eater? Simple ways to make your dog eat slower
You’re probably familiar with the expression to ‘wolf down’ food. The saying is an old one – it goes back hundreds of years, at least – and even though few of us have ever seen an actual wolf, we all know it means to eat ravenously, at alarming speed.
Wait. Is this starting to sound like we’re talking about your dog?
What are the dangers of your dog eating too fast?
While some dogs carefully chew and enjoy each bite of food, others inhale it so fast you have to wonder if any chewing was involved. Unfortunately, having your dog eat this quickly can be dangerous the good news is that it’s quite simple to slow your dogs eating down.
Some dangers of your dog eating too fast are obvious – like humans, they can choke and eating so quickly can cause vomiting and stomach pain. But with dogs, rapid ingestion also increases the risk of a serious medical condition called bloat. This is a life-threatening issue that comes on suddenly when the abdomen expands from the food intake. The enlarged stomach can twist and require hospitalization and surgery.
How to make your dog eat slower
There’s no better time than the next meal to start slowing down your pup’s eating habits. There are lots of methods to do this, so you’ll be able to find one that works with your dog – or mix it up and switch between them.
1. Place a tennis ball in the food bowl. A food-motivated dog is usually too busy focusing on the food to even think about the ball. But because the dog has to eat around the ball, it slows down their eating.
2. Hand feed your pup. This way, you control the speed of intake. This is also a great way to put some training in with feeding time, using food as a reward for simple behaviors. Over time, hand-feeding usually results in a dog that eats slower when fed from his bowl.
3. Freeze your dog’s food. This will also help keep your pup hydrated. You can freeze their food in certain types of bowls to make it easier. I like to freeze my dogs in their SleepyPod Yummy bowls or Toppl toys from West Paw. This is also a great way to bring their food on the road. How it works: If you’re feeding kibble, mix in some water, goat’s milk or bone broth to freeze. Ta’da!
4. Put food in interactive puzzle games and toys. Providing mental enrichment during feeding time is a great way to tire out those busy minds. I love puzzles by Nina Ottosen and the iDig by iFetch. I also like stuffing a Kong with a dinner the dog has to work for. The Toppl toys by West Paw work fantastic for this as well (even when you’re not freezing it).
5. Use a slow feeder bowl. These are bowls that have grooves and different shapes to spread the food out and not allowing your dog to take massive bites.
6. Use a Snuffle Mat – While you can make this yourself (check out our DIY post), I’m not that handy. I got mine on Amazon, similar to foraging for grass, you can use your dogs dinner or some treats and let them sniff and search using their brains working for their dinner and hence your dog will also eat slower. Plus, it’s machine washable making clean up super easy for me. While this is the one I have, there are other options out there such as this one and this one. The biggest difference I see is the bottom, the one I have is a fabric bottom
For your dog, mealtime doesn’t have to be only about the food and instead can incorporate play and metal enrichment. I have a lot of fun mixing up meal time with these techniques and hope you and your pup give them a try. Remember, slower eating is also better for your dog’s health and a healthy dog is a happy dog.