Dogs that eat too fast are at risk of choking, stomach problems, and bloat. Here are five ways to encourage your dog to eat his meals more slowly.
You’re probably familiar with the expression to “wolf down” food. The saying is an old one — it goes back hundreds of years, at least — and even though not many of us have ever seen an actual wolf, we all know that “wolfing down” means to eat ravenously, at alarming speed. Is this starting to sound like we’re talking about your dog?
While some dogs carefully chew and enjoy each bite of food, others inhale it so fast you have to wonder if any chewing was involved at all. Unfortunately, having your dog eat this quickly can be dangerous.
Some of these dangers are obvious. Like us, dogs can choke if they eat too fast, or cause themselves vomiting and stomach pain. But with dogs, rapid ingestion of food also increases the risk of a serious medical condition called bloat. This is a life-threatening issue that comes on suddenly when the abdomen expands from food intake. The enlarged stomach can twist and require hospitalization and surgery.
There’s no better time than the next meal to start slowing down your pup’s eating habits. There are lots of ways to do this, so you’ll be able to find one that works with your dog — or mix it up and switch between them.
1. Place a tennis ball in his food bowl
A food-motivated dog is usually too busy focusing on his dinner to even think about the ball. But because he has to eat around the ball, it slows down his eating.
2. Hand-feed your pup
This way, you control the speed of intake. This is also a great way to add some training into feeding time, using food as a reward for simple behaviors. Over time, hand-feeding usually results in a dog that eats more slowly when fed from his bowl.
3. Freeze your dog’s food
This will also help keep your pup hydrated! You can freeze his food in certain types of bowl to make it easier. I like to freeze my own dogs’ food in Sleepypod Yummy bowls. This is also a great way to bring his food along if you travel together. If you’re feeding kibble, mix in some water, goat’s milk, or bone broth to freeze it.
4. Put his food in interactive puzzle games and toys
Providing mental enrichment during feeding time is a great way to tire out those busy minds while making him eat slower. I also like stuffing a Kong with food the dog has to work for. Toppl toys by West Paw work for this as well.
5. Use a slow feeder bowl
These bowls feature grooves and different shapes that spread the food out and prevent your dog from taking massive bites.
I have a lot of fun switching up mealtimes with these techniques, and hope you and your pup give them a try. Remember, slower eating is better for your dog’s health and well-being.