It’s not a race, it’s best to pace! Is your dog a rapid-fire gulper when he eats? Does he avoid chewing? Is all his food gone in mere seconds? If so, it is likely 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 his food due to the 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 the pan and cover them with tennis balls. Your dog will have to remove tennis balls and go to each individual indent to consume his meal. Consider buying a muffin pan just for your pooch at a second-hand store.
- Spread the kibble on a yoga mat or cookie sheet. Your dog moves around to eat his “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. Fill a dog food puzzle, food dispensary toy that wobbles, fillable rubber food device, or slow-eating bowl – it will look like a maze! Your dog will need to navigate the item to obtain his food and this will slow down his voracious eating.
- Load a snuffle mat. A snuffle mat allows your dog to sniff and search for hidden treasure – errr, kibble. 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 the kibble into the fleece flaps. You can make a mat yourself or find a seller. Your dog will love using his nose!
- Float the kibble. Add up to half an inch of water – less for smaller dogs - to his kibble in a bowl. It will look like a “kibble cereal” using minimal water (instead of milk). The water will cause your dog to slow down as he will likely drink some water first and then chew the moistened kibble. 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 kibble. Not only will this reinforce what your dog already knows so that he doesn’t forget previous training, but 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 mealtimes be safer, but your dog will also use some brain power as he exercises mentally to get his food. If you have a dog who likes to speed eat, consider enrolling him in a pet insurance policy to protect against unexpected accidents or illnesses related to his quick eating habits! This way, as you train him to slow down his food consumption, you’ll still have the peace of mind that should anything occur, you can afford the best veterinary care!