As pet owners, we often think about the quality of the food we’re feeding our dogs—such as the ingredients, reputation of the brand, and stage in our dog’s life—but sometimes we overlook one of the most important aspects of our dog’s diet: how slowly they eat.
It’s not uncommon to hear people describing their pet’s eating habits as “wolfing it down,” or “inhaling their food.” Unfortunately, dogs who eat too quickly are at risk for a host of digestive problems and potentially serious complications that could impact their health. Let’s take a closer look at why dogs eat too quickly, and why eating slowly is good for your dogs.
Why Dogs Eat Too Fast
There are many reasons why a dog might be eating their food in a flash. One of the most common reasons is the dog experiencing something that makes them fearful their food might be taken away—such as an abusive situation before their new home where they had to fight for food, or were starved. Another reason is the presence of other dogs in the house, particularly dogs who are more dominating, as this triggers an instinct to eat as quickly as possible to avoid not getting fed.
Why It’s Bad For Them
Eating too quickly can pose an array of risks for dogs—which range from irritating to life threatening. A dog who eats too can choke on their food because they aren’t taking the time to chew it into small enough pieces; eating too quickly can increase the risk for stomach aches and gas; and most seriously, it increases the risk for bloating. Bloating in dogs is considered a life threatening situation, and if your dog does eat quickly, you should always physically check him to ensure he hasn’t developed the condition—if he has, you should immediately take him to an emergency veterinarian.
How to Ensure Your Dog Eats Slowly
Thankfully, there are tools to correct this behavior, which include slow feed dog bowls and an elevated dog feeding station.
Slow feed dog bowls are designed to slow down your dog when they eat; they come in many different styles and designs. The most common design is a standard round bowl with a protrusion in the center which spreads the food around and makes the dog walk in a circle as they eat, slowing down the process. Other designs include maze and interactive designs which slow the dog down even further than standard slow feed dog bowls, which not only slow your dog down, but make dinnertime a bit more fun.
Elevated dog feeding stations are an excellent choice even if your dog isn’t experiencing a problem with how quickly they eat. Elevated dog feeding stations hold bowls on an elevated platform, which raises them to a certain level. Elevated stations are beneficial because they chance the posture of the dog as it eats; this is better for digestion, reduces the stress on the dog’s back, and reduces the risk of choking.