You’re not alone. Lots of people have dogs who seem to think that meal times are a speed race. It’s not healthy for your dog to eat his food that fast. We have five tips to stop your dog from eating too fast. Learn which slow feed bowls we like the best and more!
Why do dogs eat too fast?
Dogs can eat too fast for several reasons:
- Some dogs just love food. They love to eat even if it means gulping down their food too fast. They may not seem to taste the food when they eat this fast but they get some satisfaction out of filling up on the food.
- Some dogs have food guarding issues. This usually happens if you have more than one dog. Your dog doesn’t want another dog to get the food so he guards the food or tries to eat all of it as fast as possible so the other dog can’t have any. The dog may not even be hungry but he really doesn’t want that other dog to have any of the food.
- Some dogs are busy and do everything quickly. These dogs can run and play, come in to eat in a hurry, and then want to go right back outside so they can play some more.
There are probably other reasons but these are all very common scenarios with dogs. Some people might tie this behavior to the dog’s wolf ancestry. Wolves had to worry about other predators stealing the prey they killed – not to mention other members of their own pack who might try to take their food. Eating fast gave a wolf an advantage. It’s still not good for your dog to eat too fast.
Dogs that eat too fast can gag, vomit, have gastrointestinal problems and, in extreme cases, suffer from bloat (gastric dilatation-volvulus or GDV). So you really want to try to get your dog to eat more slowly.
How to stop your dog from eating too fast
Slow feed bowls – Feeding your dog using a slow feed bowl is one of the best ways to discourage him from eating too fast. There are lots of different brands but they all operate on the same principle. The bowl has some built-in obstacles (“speed bumps” or a maze) that make it a little more difficult for your dog to get the food out of the bowl. He’s forced to eat more slowly. Outward Hound makes several excellent slow feed bowls in different colors, sizes, and configurations. They have a non-slip base so the bowl won’t slide around while your dog is trying to get the food out. Safe to wash in the top rack of the dishwasher. And they are made with high quality, food-safe material that is BPA, PVC and phthalate-free. We like them for both large and small dogs.
Food Puzzles and Interactive Games – Another way to feed your dog and get him to eat more slowly is by using food puzzles and interactive games. This idea may seem odd at first but interactive toys like the Buster Food Cube make your dog work for his food so he can’t wolf it down. These toys are easy to use, too. You simply load your dog’s food into the cube and let your dog start rolling it around to make the pieces come out. This cube from OurPets is made from safe and durable thermoplastic rubber. It’s available in blue or orange and in small or large. The great thing about the Buster Cube is that it also provides mental stimulation and exercise for your dog, too.
Cookie Sheet or Muffin Pan – Another way to slow your dog down at mealtimes is by placing his food on a cookie sheet or in a muffin pan. Kibble pieces spread on a cookie sheet will slide all over the place making it difficult for your dog to gulp them down. If you use a muffin pan and fill each cup with a small amount of kibble it will take your dog some time to eat all of the smaller portions. This method works better for some dogs than others, depending on the size of their nose.
Hand Feeding – If your dog really needs to slow down and nothing else seems to work, you can hand feed him. This is a time-consuming method since you are basically feeding your dog a few pieces of kibble at a time but it does work. Your dog will have to eat more slowly. Many dogs love to be hand fed if you have time to use this method.
Feed Multiple Meals – We recommend that you feed your dog twice a day instead of just once a day. In fact, if you have a dog that eats his food too fast, you may want to consider feeding him more than two meals a day. Just spread out his food over more meals. Even free feeding might be a good idea if it makes your dog feel more secure that food is always available. We don’t normally recommend free feeding since it can result in some dogs becoming overweight but in some instances it can be a good choice if your dog is eating too fast. You could even give your dog some snacks between meals if it will help take the edge off his appetite.
Gulping or “wolfing” down food is a very common issue with dogs. It’s not healthy for your dog to eat too fast and in extreme cases it can lead to bloat. Using a good slow feed bowl or one of the other ideas suggested here should help your dog eat more slowly.