Some dogs love food! However, they can love food a little too much, which can make them gulp it down when it is offered. While not all dogs experience adverse outcomes when they eat their food too fast, some do.
Eating too fast can cause choking since your dog is likely not chewing their food thoroughly. Gagging can also cause vomiting and discomfort. In some cases, eating too fast may cause bloat, a deadly disease in dogs, where the stomach expands with gas. However, the research is currently not sure whether or not eating too fast causes bloat – but it is a possibility.
Luckily, there are quite a few ways you can make your dog slow down their meals. Below, you’ll find some of our best tips and tricks for making your dog stop eating too fast.
1. Use a Slow-Feed Bowl
Slow-feed bowls are bowls that make it a bit more challenging to get to the food than an average bowl. Mostly, these bowls have ridges and bumps. The food falls between these ridges, which makes it more difficult for your dog to get to the food.
Of course, they can get to the food; it just takes a bit longer. The dog will likely need to turn their head and attack the bowl from different angles to get to the food. Because your dog has to put in a bit of work to get the food, their eating will slow down.
There are many different kinds of bowls available. Some may slow your dog down more than others. If you get one but don’t notice much of a difference, you may need to try another bowl instead. Luckily, these things are pretty cheap. You can find many options for under $10. For the most part, they aren’t much more expensive than regular dog food bowls.
2. Try a Puzzle Feeder
Puzzle feeders may also help slow your dog’s eating. While slow-feed bowls don’t require much mental effort on your dog’s part, puzzle feeders do. These puzzles come in a variety of difficulties. Some are relatively easy, while others are complicated. This variety of challenge levels allows you to choose the best option for your dog based on their experience and breed.
If a slow-feed bowl doesn’t slow your dog down enough, you may want to upgrade to a puzzle feeder. The theory is very similar. The dog has to work to get the food, so they’ll eat slower. However, puzzle feeders are much harder than slow-feed bowls. They do work in situations where slow-feed bowls don’t.
- Related Read: 10 Best Dog Puzzle Toys – Reviews & Top Picks
3. Consider a Muffin Pan
A muffin pan works very similarly to a slow-feed bowl, but you probably have one of these sitting around your house already. Put a small amount of kibble in each muffin area. Your dog will have to eat each bit of food by itself, taking the time to scoop them up with his tongue. This takes quite a bit of time, so it may be plenty to slow down some fast eaters.
If the muffin pan works with your dog, you may want to get a slow-feed bowl. They work very similarly, but it would give you dog a dedicated vessel to eat out of (and you’d get your muffin pan back).
A muffin pan doesn’t always work as well as a good slow-feeder, though, so this method may not work for every dog.
4. Hand Feed
For some people, hand-feeding every meal isn’t practical. However, if you have the extra time, this is the cheapest, easiest, and surest way to slow down your dog’s eating. You can pair this with training and use your dog’s food as a treat. You can make the training more challenging as they get better, slowly introducing more tricks.
Of course, this is only suitable with kibble. You really can’t hand feed wet food.
5. Divide Your Dog’s Food into Portions
On top of the other tips we’ve mentioned, you may also want to split up your dog’s food into multiple portions. By splitting your dog’s food up into three meals a day, for example, your dog will only be gulping a third of the food they would be otherwise.
When paired with a slow feeder or puzzle feeder, this can slow a dog down substantially. Of course, you will need to remember to feed them multiple times a day, and this isn’t always practical for everyone. Most people should be able to split their dog’s food up into at least two meals a day, however – once in the morning and once at night.
6. Create Your Own Slow Feeder
If you can’t purchase a slow-feed bowl for whatever reason (or can’t wait for it to ship), you can make your own. Sometimes, you can turn your dog’s bowl upside down. Many dog bowls are concaved on the bottom and can work as a bowl upside down, though they will lump in the middle. This lump can slow down your dog’s eating.
You can also use a clean rock. Just set it in the middle of your dog’s bowl, and you’ve made yourself a free slow-feeder! It will need to be a decently heavy rock since you don’t want your dog to move it around in their bowl or knocking it out.
7. Address Competitive Eating
Some dogs eat fast because there are other dogs around. They may be afraid that the other dog will steal their food, causing them to try and finish their food faster. This creates an eating race, with both dogs trying to finish their food first. Even if your dog is not prone to gulping by themselves, they might be when placed near other dogs.
The easiest way to fix this problem is to separate the dogs while they’re eating. Put them in different rooms with different food bowls. They won’t be able to see each other and will be less afraid that the other will steal their food.
8. Reduce Food Insecurity
Some dogs eat fast because they’re afraid it might get taken away. Alternatively, they might be ravenously hungry by the time mealtime comes. Either way, this sort of situation is often described as food insecurity.
Solving food insecurity involves feeding your dog more often. When they know the next mealtime is just around the corner, the dog will be less likely to gulp their food.
Featured Image: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock