How To Get Your Dog To Eat Slower?

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November 4, 2022 / Dog Food / By: iPupster

A lab dog sitting down in front of his dog bowl filled with kibble.

When you sit down with the family to enjoy a meal, it's a bonding experience. Most of us stretch out the meal unless we're really hungry. It's fun to catch up with the events in everyone's eyes as you enjoy some good food.

It's not the same for your dog; they spend ALL DAY dreaming about dinnertime. When the moment rolls around, they stand around in the kitchen, watching your fill their bowl with kibble. Dogs are such honest creatures, and you can see they struggle to contain their excitement at dinnertime.

The second you put the bowl on the floor, it's on like Donkey Kong. They race through the food as fast as possible, without a second thought of slowing down. Some dogs are worse than others, and they wolf down their food without swallowing, causing a choking risk.

If your dog is acting like Hussein Bolt on race day when dinner time arrives, you need to take action to slow them down. This post will unpack the reasons why they eat so fast and what you can do to get your dog to eat slower.  

Why is My Dog Eating So Fast? 

Sure, your dog could just really love their food, or you could be dealing with another issue. Dogs eat fast for many reasons, and breaking that behavior requires you to understand why they're doing it in the first place.

Here are a few reasons why your dog is wolfing down their kibble.

1 Staying ahead of the competition

Puppies compete with each other for their mother's milk. The pack's runts end up weak and scrawny because they don't have the same developmental strength as the others.

This action ingrains the dogs' behavior to arrive at the feeding site as fast as possible. It also teaches them that they need to get as much food as possible before their siblings beat them to it.

Sure, dogs are kind and caring, but just see how kind and friendly your puppy is if you try to take the dinner bowl away from them while they're eating. Chances are they'll growl, and if you persist, they even try to bite the hand that feeds them.

2. Irregular Meal Times

If you adopted your dog from a rescue program, you have no idea when its meal times are. It might take the dog some time to adjust to your feeding schedule.

Your dog will feel like they don't know when their next meal is coming or if they will get one at all in the interim. As a result, the dog eats as fast as possible and as much as possible when getting its food.

Shelters also run on budgets. When they are running low on funds, they must make cutbacks in how much they feed the animals in their care – it's sad, but it is what it is.

The reality is your new dog might be underfed. As a result, the dog wolfs down its food, and you might get the impression you're not feeding it enough. It's easy to start increasing portion sizes, but your dog continues with the fast-paced eating.

As a result, your dog ends up putting on weight, and obesity becomes an issue in their health. The only way to prevent this from happening is to control your dog's portions and stop them from eating so fast.

If you slow your dog's eating pace, they eat less. The food starts to provide a satiating feeling as it reaches its stomach, breaking old eating habits quickly.

3. Malnutrition

Some dog foods are better quality than others. If you're feeding your dog inferior food formula, it results in nutrient deficiencies.

Always feed your dog a high-quality food recommended by your vet. You might pay more for the food, but you get more nutrition gram-for-gram out of the higher quality food.

As a result, your dog doesn't poop so much, and they get all the nutrients they need for a balanced diet.

4. Underlying Health Conditions

An underlying health issue might be causing your dog to eat fast.

Disorders like Cushing's syndrome and diabetes influence your dog's metabolism, causing them to feel excessively hungry. Parasites like worms can also affect your dog's eating behavior.

Is it Bad if My Puppy Doesn't Chew His Food?

Affordable canine nutrition

Do you ever notice your pup gobbling down its food without chewing it? That's dangerous behavior, and it could end up causing a severe health issue or death in the animal.

Wolfing down food without chewing can upset your dog's stomach, causing them to vomit up whole pieces of kibble.

The reason why dogs eat without chewing is like the pack mentality problem we covered earlier. They think there are limited time and opportunity for eating their food.

Your dog's biology also plays a role in why they wolf down food without chewing first.

The canine throat stretches, accommodating large chunks of food with each bite. The shape of dogs' teeth suits ripping and tearing large chunks of food. Therefore, it might be the dog's instinct that's causing them to adopt this behavior.

If your puppy isn't chewing their food, you need to slow them down before they transfer this behavior into its adolescence and adulthood. Trying to teach an older dog to eat slowly is much more challenging than training a small puppy.

If you leave it for too long, you not only put your dog's health at risk, but you'll find it hard to get your dog to break the habit.

However, with your puppy's diligent training, you could get them to eat normally in a few weeks.

What Happens if a Dog Eats too Quickly?

A sheltie dog lying down

If your dog is eating quickly, it results in a host of complications. Some dogs might eat too much and throw up after their meal. Others might develop aggressive behavior around the dinner bowl.

If your dog is eating too fast, it can end up making them severely sick. It could develop issues like pancreatitis, or they might end up overweight or obese.

Obesity is a real problem in dogs, and it affects them as much as it does people. Dogs can develop issues like obesity from overeating, and that can ruin your dog's behavior.

According to a report from the American Kennel Club (AKC), dogs that eat too fast end up experiencing digestive issues, like vomiting and diarrhea.

Eating too fast also presents a choking hazard, and your dog might end up needing a trip to the vet to avoid choking themselves to death.

Bloating is also another risk for dogs, especially larger breeds with more body mass. When the dog wolfs down their food, they take in large amounts of air. As a result, they start developing chest pains, and some dogs may die from this disorder.

Dogs can develop a life-threatening condition when eating too fast. Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) can cause severe digestive distress. The dog might need emergency surgery to remove the twisting and blocking of the intestines.

According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, GDV requires urgent veterinary treatment, or the dog is at risk of an intestinal rupture.

How can I Get My Dog to Slow Down when Eating Fast?

German shepherd puppy playing with puzzle toy

Getting your dog to slow down at dinner time isn't as challenging as you think. There are plenty of vet-approved tools that help with the task. Try these solutions to slow your dog down at the dinner bowl.

1. Increase Feeding Frequency

Serve your dog three meals a day instead of one large main meal. If that strategy doesn't work, try using feeding accessories to slow your dog down.

2. Try a Slow Feeder

Some dogs might find it irritating eating out of a slow feeder bowl, and they try to tip it over onto the floor to get at the food. Make sure you choose a model with a stable base that your dog can't capsize.

Slow feeder to prevent fast eating by dogs

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Neater Slow Feed Bowl Stainless Steel

The Neater Slow Feed Bowl Stainless Steel ($15.99) features a raised dome in the dish's center. The raised dome prevents your dog from taking full bites. They must learn to eat around the edges, taking smaller mouthfuls of food. As a result, they begin to slow down and eat at a normal pace. It also features a non-tip style and holds up to two cups of food.

3. Give them a Treat Dispenser

A treat dispenser is a chew toy or bouncing toy with a hollow body

StarMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy

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The StarMark Bob-A-Lot interactive dog toy $14.23 is a popular treat dispensing toy.  You fill the body of the toy with kibble or treats and give it to your dog. The dog must figure out how to get the toy to release a treat. This puzzle game keeps them entertained for hours and teaches them to control hunger.

4. Buy a Puzzle Feeder

A puzzle feeder is similar to a slow feeder bowl. However, the bowl has more compartments, requiring your dog to pick between each one for their food. These bowls are a good step-up from a slow feeder if your dog is still eating too fast.

Fun Feeders provide mental stimulation as puzzle toys

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The Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo Bowl ($14.99) comes in a bunch of colours and help slows down your hungry pet.

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