When it comes to dog eating and digestion, it’s not a race, it’s best to pace! Is your dog a rapid-fire gulper when they eat? Do they avoid chewing? Is all their food gone in mere seconds? Do you find yourself thinking, "Why does my dog eat so fast?" If so, it is definitely healthier for your hound to find a way to slow down.
Dangers of Speed Eating
Dogs who guzzle and inhale meals may choke, gag, vomit, or even bloat! When a dog swallows too much air with their food due to fast-paced ingestion, the excessive air can increase the chances of bloating. Bloat occurs when the stomach or intestines expand and potentially twist. This is very painful and life threatening – contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect bloat.
Ways to Slow Down Your Dog’s Eating
Choose from six easy ways to help your dog be a more deliberate eater:
- Use a muffin pan and tennis balls. Put the kibble in the muffin indents in a pan and cover them with tennis balls. Your dog will have to remove tennis balls and go to each individual indent to consume their meal. Muffin tins are extremely affordable and available at most grocery stores.
- Spread the kibble on a yoga mat or cookie sheet. Your dog moves around to eat their “trail of kibble,” which takes longer than simply eating food out of a regular bowl. This is a great solution if you need a method without a lot of preparation.
- Employ a dog food device. Use a dog food puzzle, wobbly food dispenser, or slow-eating bowl and create a maze for your pet! Your dog will have to navigate each item to obtain their food, which will slow down their voracious eating.
- Load a snuffle mat. A snuffle mat allows your dog to sniff and search for hidden treasure. It’s made of fleece strips that are tied onto a rubber mat with holes. The longer ends of the fleece are on top of the mat and you can load kibble into the fleece flaps. You can either make a mat yourself or buy one online. Your dog will love using their nose to find their food!
- Float the kibble. Add up to half an inch of water – less for smaller dogs - to their kibble in a bowl. It will look like a “kibble cereal” (using water instead of milk). The water will cause your dog to slow down, since they will likely drink some water first and then chew the moistened food. This float method works great for hydrating your pooch on road trips too.
- Work for it! Handfeed your dog small handfuls of kibble during a training session. Ask your dog to perform obedience and trick skills for one or more pieces of food. Not only will this reinforce what your dog already knows (so that they don’t forget previous training), it will also increase your bond with your dog. If your dog doesn’t have a lot of trained skills, check out these blogs to learn some fun ones: circles, shake, pout, and speak.
Not only will meals be safer with these tricks and tips, but your dog will also use some brain power as they exercise mentally to get their food. If you have a dog who likes to speed eat, consider enrolling them in a pet insurance policy to protect against unexpected accidents or illnesses related to their quick eating habits, most importantly, bloat. This way, as you train your pup to slow down their food consumption, you’ll still have the peace of mind that should anything occur, you can afford the best veterinary care.