There are a bunch of puzzle toys for dogs that helps them eat slower. Such toys are kong stuffing toys, different bowls that are specialized in making dogs eat slower, and also some other tips.
Just like we have different kinds of people with different curious eating habits, dogs have different ways they eat as well.
Some dogs may eat their food rather leisurely and slowly, enjoying every piece of food as it makes its way down their throat.
While some of us may find this rather amusing, even comical, dog owners and animal health experts know that eating too fast is potentially hazardous for your dog. There’s a downside to dogs eating too fast without pausing for some air.
What are some of those downsides? We’ll get to that in a bit, but before then let us quickly consider the reasons your dog eats too fast in the first place.
My Dog Eats Too Fast. Why?
First, and it’s pretty easy to understand this; it’s in them to do so. By themselves, dogs don’t have table manners.
Most dogs, if untrained, will chump down their food pretty quickly. See how wolves feed in the wild when they take down prey? That’s how it works for these canines; eat first no questions asked.
Your Dog May Be Hungry
Another obvious reason would be that your dog is pretty hungry. Yes, when you let your dog starve for a while, go for a long stretch of time without eating, he’s just going to dive into the food when you eventually serve it.
It works the same way for hungry people as well if you’ve stopped to notice. Serve a very hungry man a hamburger and he’s likely to chump it down in two bites!
Moving on, another reason your dog may eat too fast is medication. When you take your dog to the vet and he’s given some medicines, always find out what the side effects are.
When your dog is being treated, some medications have the side effect of increasing appetite.
Your veterinarian can also test for intestinal parasites which could be sapping vital nutrients from your dog, thereby increasing hunger.
Finally, another curious reason your dog may eat too fast is because of competition. If you’re feeding more than one dog at a time, or there are other dogs around when your dog is eating, he’s going to have it in his head that he has to eat quickly so the other dog(s) don’t deprive him of having a full belly.
Also, dogs bred in groups tend to eat quickly because they’re used to other dogs competing with them for the same measure of food.
As a puppy, he probably competed with littermates for food on a regular, so he learned over time to eat quickly before his rival siblings outshine him on the dinner table. This behavior can then become a bad habit over the years.
Having established these basic facts as to why your dog may be gulping his food very quickly, let us move on to understanding the negative effect that eating fast can have on your dog.
Does Eating Too Fast Have Health Implications For My Dog?
Yes, it does. It’s generally unhealthy and, come to think of it, it’s not cool!
The first obvious danger is that your dog could choke on his food. Ever seen a dog choking on his food before; the curious coughing, gasping sound, and wheezes of air that he makes as he tries to force out the food? Not a pretty sight!
When dogs gulp down their meal too quickly, they actually swallow air along with the food. This combo will expand in the stomach, causing pain and discomfort to the poor canine.
This may in turn lead to a nasty condition known as gastric dilatation-volvulus, or bloat (a life-threatening medical emergency that could lead to surgery being performed on your dog).
So How Can You Get Your Dog To Slow Down When Eating?
If you have a dog that is eating fast because of the competition, perhaps you should try feeding each dog separately, alone so there’s no anxiety when the meal is served. Let each dog have a separate meal within his own space.
Remember, we pointed out that another reason your dog may be eating fast is that he’s hungry, right? If your dog is well-fed consistently, he will learn that there’s no point rushing through the meal since it’s sizeable and it’s all for him.
If you want to learn more about his, read our article on How Much Should I Feed My Dog.
Divide The Food
Alternatively, you should try feeding your dog multiple times each day.
Instead of feeding your dog one large meal once a day, simply divide the food into two or three meals and serve it to your dog two or three times a day.
Slow feeder bowls
You could also adopt using “slow feeder” bowls to help your dog eat more slowly.
These bowls are designed to teach your dog the art of working for his food. The process will eventually get your dog to be calm when eating.
The bowls come with protruding sections, compartments, and different other fun barriers that pose challenges for your dog. As a result, he won’t be able to take large gulps of food at once.
Fun toys such as Kong Toys and interesting puzzle games for dogs are the way to go. If you place an obstruction between your dog and the food, he will have no choice but to slow down.
And speaking of toys, the idea is to simply be creative when feeding your dog. Make a game out of mealtime; hide the food in various locations throughout the house or even in the yard.
Your dog will have to “hunt” for his food. This will not only provide some playtime but some exercise too!
An interesting option to consider in this area would be treat-release toys. This consists of plastic balls which can be filled with dry food for your dog. Your dog has to get his food out by pushing the toy along the floor, slowly releasing the food.
Furthermore, another technique that can work to help stop your dog from eating fast is food scattering. There isn’t much to this strategy.
All you need to do is scatter your dog’s food around the floor area or in the garden. The dog then has to eat one bite at a time, at regulated intervals.
Bottle dispenser: This is an easy-to-make contraction; get a dry and empty large water bottle. Cut a few holes around it and leave the rest to your dog to figure out how to access the content of the ‘dispenser’.
Snuffle Mat: This is basically a rubber mat tied with lots of fabric. You then scatter your dog’s food between all the bits of fabric, while your dog will then have to use his nose to find the food. This will help to slow down the eating process.
Cereal boxes: This method works well for dogs that are in the habit of ripping their toys and things in the house generally. Simply get an empty cereal box and put your dog’s food inside it. Then close it tight with masking tape. Your dog will have some real exercise battling to rip open the box to get the food inside!
In all you do, please have it at the back of your mind that the importance of supervising your dog at mealtime cannot be downplayed. A dog is a dog; you never can tell what they’re up to when eating.
With the points shared in this article, I’m pretty sure your dog will learn his lessons quickly and become a slow eater in no time.