If you have a dog that all but inhales the food you put down then a slow feeder could be what you need.
Some dogs are notorious for eating too fast. Sometimes they are so quick they barely have the time to take a breath as they wolf down their food. It makes mealtime even harder when there is more than one dog and each one eats at a different pace. This can exacerbate the natural competition that often comes between our dogs.
Why eating fast is bad
Guzzling food is dangerous. It not only allows the dog that inhales its food to put on weight much easier because they eat as much as possible and don’t recognize when they are full. But also, eating too fast can too often lead to a life-threatening condition known as Bloat. The medical name for this is Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus.
The early warning signs of bloat include excessive breathing, lots of drooling and vomiting that can be a precursor to your dog collapsing. If you see any of these tell-tale signs you must call your veterinarian as soon as possible.
There are other reasons why dogs need to be stopped from eating too fast. It can easily lead to a dog gagging or choking as it is not taking the time to adequately chew the food. Dogs can also become aggressively possessive over their food which can lead to unfortunate behavior to anyone who gets in the way. This is especially dangerous in households with small children or other pets.
Why some dogs eat fast
Some dogs learn this fast eating behavior from an early stage. They might have been in a large litter so mealtime became a competition to eat as much as quickly as possible. Another reason may be down to a medical condition like parasites, which affect the dog’s ability to absorb nutrients.
It may be possible to discourage fast eating dogs by switching food so the dog gets more nutritionally beneficial sustenance. There have been examples of this changing a pet’s eating behavior.
Another solution may be to place a ball big enough so it’s not swallowed in the middle of the bowl. It causes the dog to have to move it around so slowing them down as they eat. By slowing the dog down it should begin to chew its food.
There are feeding bowls designed to slow down the pace of a dog’s eating. The range is from cheap and cheerful simple to more sophisticated and expensive advanced feeding bowls with all sorts of intricate additions to stop your dog from being able to eat all the food at once.
Some are puzzle bowls, others encourage balls to be introduced at feeding time so your pet has to do some thinking before diving in. Some bowls incorporate sliding plates that need to be maneuvered before the food is available to eat.
At the end of the day, it may be necessary to simply feed your dog small amounts at various times throughout the day rather than a couple of big portions.
Bowls designed to slow dogs down from wolfing their food are very effective.
Getting your mutt to slow down and chew its food will significantly enhance its digestion.
That means less chance of bloating, a reduction in gas creation, reduced opportunities for regurgitation or choking, and better gut health in general.
Slow feeding bowls are also mentally stimulating for dogs. This should not be overlooked because mental exercise is almost as important as physical exercise in helping to develop healthy and well-balanced pups.
Slow feeders are capable of increasing the length of time a dog takes to finish a meal by as many as 10 times!
This is good because a dog eating too quickly is not to be laughed off. If the habit is allowed to continue for any length of time, the process of gobbling food to fast can lead to life-threatening conditions.
Not only can it cause your dog to choke, but worse it can lead to potentially fatal twisted stomachs and gastric torsions.
Slow feeders help stop both of these issues with you having to put in minimal effort.
There are some great feeders available but how can you decide which is best for your dog?
For a start, it needs to be not only effective but also safe and durable. One fun option is the puzzle shaped feeder. The recommendation is to choose a puzzle shape that moves the food in the direction of the bowl’s center.
Indeed, some feeders even increase the difficulty level of eating as the food reaches closer to the center.
Most slow feeders have similar difficulty levels. It’s a good idea to get more than one style of the puzzle because different shapes will present your dogs with new challenges.
When the food is put into one of these bowls it’s advisable to place the food towards the outside of the bowl so your pup has to push it towards the center.
It’s also worth considering what size going to be best for your slow feeding bowl.
When you have either a very large or a very small dog or your puppy has a short snout you will need to be selective.
Slow feeders are also suitable for your dog’s water, especially when it tends to scoff its water.
It’s common with dog slow feeders to be made from plastic. This is a good material for slow feeders. It is not only durable but also easy to clean, as well as being antibacterial and affordable.
This style of bowl is available in most shapes and sizes. There are many patterns due to plastic’s moldability.
Make sure your slow feeder is made from non-toxic and BPA-free material. BPA stands for bisphenol A and is a chemical used to make some plastics and resins.
There are of course slow feeders that have been made from other materials, so you may want to choose one that is either stainless steel and ceramic. Learn more here.