Your dog wolfs down their food like there’s no tomorrow.
Their bowl is licked clean before you even turn around.
While that might be interpreted as a good thing (because they obviously love the food you’re feeding them), it can cause serious problems.
In this guide, we’ll talk about the danger of eating too fast, and 6 easy ways to make your dog eat slower.
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What happens if a dog eats too fast?
Before we dive in with the techniques you can use to slow down their meal time, let’s take a look at the dangers of eating too fast.
Dogs that eat their food too quickly can suffer with problems like:
Gastric dilatation-volvulus (commonly referred to as “bloating”) is a serious and painful condition for dogs to have.
It happens when their abdomen twists because their stomach expands. In fact, it’s so serious that dogs go into shock when they’re extremely bloated, and could result in death.
A dog that eats too fast is more at risk of this dangerous bloating. Why? Because they’re inhaling their food so fast that a bunch of air gets swallowed alongside the food. This excess air inside the stomach is what causes their stomach to expand, and bloat to potentially become a problem.
It’s harder for your dog’s stomach to process their food when it’s coming through too fast.
However, slowing down the rate they’re eating helps their digestive system cope with this influx of food, making it less likely they’ll suffer with indigestion (and also boosting their chances of absorbing the good stuff from their food.)
Meal time goes too quickly
Some dogs have bad habits of waiting by your plate to see if there’s any scraps for them to munch on.
It’s good practice to feed your dog at the same time as you’re eating to prevent them from lingering by your feet. The theory is they’re distracted (and full) with their own food that they don’t need to try and steal yours.
However, a dog that eats too quickly won’t realise they’re full. This means they wolf down their food in less than a minute, and come sniffing around your plate to see if there’s anything for dessert. But helping your dog slow down their eating helps with that problem.
How to make your dog eat slower
As you can see, it’s not just inconvenience you’re battling with when your dog eats their food too fast. It can cause health problems, too.
Here are five simple ways to prevent that by slowing down your dog when they’re eating:
- Use a slow feeding bowl
- Or a puzzle feeder
- Portion food in bits
- Turn mealtime into training time
- Play a scavenger hunt
1. Use a slow feeding bowl
The simplest way to make your dog eat slower is to ditch the standard food bowl for a slow feeder.
Traditional bowls don’t need your dog to put in any extra work to get their food. They can gobble up huge chunks of food in one mouthful, boosting the chances of them swallowing air and suffering with bloat.
However, slow feeders are plastic bowls with inserts inside. Your dog can’t physically open their mouth and grab a huge chunk of their food; they need to put some thought into it. That often means using their tongue to scoop up bits of food–which makes them eat more slowly.
And, the best part: A slow feeding bowl is good for all kinds of dog food–including raw, kibble, and wet dog food.
Hugo is currently on raw food from Bella and Duke, and I put every single meal into his slow feeder bowl. It takes him around 5 minutes to eat each meal (which beats the <1 minute window he’d wolf it down pre-slow feeder.)
2. Or a puzzle feeder
Similarly, a puzzle feeder is another superb way to slow down your dog when they’re eating.
These puzzles can come in a range of options, such as:
- A KONG: You can add your dog’s regular food into their KONG (check here for 40+ stuffing ideas)
- An egg release feeder: Your dog knocks this around and their food is released through a small hole (great for kibble)
- A flat puzzle: This has flaps, covers, and sliders that you hide food under for your dog to sniff out
Either of these puzzle feeder toys can be used outside of meal times, too. For example: Why not put some tasty cocktail sausages into the egg release feeder? That way, you can get 15 minutes of peace and let your pup tire themselves out.
Feeding this way is a great form of enrichment. Your dog has to figure out how the toy works, and gets their food in small pieces. That’s bound to slow them down.
3. Give food in bits
Don’t fancy splashing out on a fancy slow feeder or puzzle toy? Don’t worry: you can also manually ration your dog’s food to make sure they’re not eating too quickly.
The concept is simple: Get your dog’s mealtime allowance and portion it into 3 or 4 different piles. Give them the first pile, then leave two minutes for their stomachs to settle. Repeat as you give the remaining portions.
(This is a great tactic if you’re away from home, too–like staying overnight at a friend’s house where you’ve forgotten their slow feeder.)
4. Turn mealtime into training time
Dogs are smart animals, and most love any opportunity they’ll get to sharpen their skills.
You can incorporate this training into mealtimes, whilst also slowing down the rate at which they’re eating their food.
Use a handful of your dog’s kibble as their reward for completing an action. For example, you could ask them to do a short routine of training commands (such as sit, paw, spin, and lie down), then reward them with their kibble once they’ve done it successfully.
5. Make it a scavenger hunt
Looking for a fun scent game to play with your dog?
Turn their meal allowance into a scavenger hunt by spreading their food across the house or garden. Get a handful of kibble and hide it in some less-obvious places, like under a toy or behind a piece of furniture.
Your dog will have to sniff out their food to eat it. When that’s spread across the entire house or garden, they’re guaranteed not to wolf their meal down in 10 seconds flat.
Use these tips to slow down your dog’s mealtime
As you can see, the dangers of your dog eating their meal too fast can be serious and life-threatening.
The good news? It’s easy to control your mealtime and stop them from finishing their meal a few seconds after you’ve put the bowl down.