Some dogs are notoriously fast eaters, barely having time to breathe as they scoff down their meals. This can make mealtime even harder if there are multiple dogs that eat at a different pace, allowing for competition come between them.
Why is eating fast so bad?
Not only can it allow the dog inhaling their food to put on weight easier as they will eat as much as possible before they realise, eating too quickly can lead to a life-threatening condition called Bloat (Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus). Early signs of bloat are excessive breathing, drooling and vomiting which can lead to your dog collapsing. Therefore it is imperative to call your vet as soon as you notice any of these signs.
Other reasons why eating too fast needs to be controlled is that it can lead to choking or gagging as they are not stopping to properly chew the food. The dog may also become possessive over food which can lead to aggression to anyone that stands between them and their food. In households with small children or other dogs this can become extremely dangerous as they will attack anything when around food.
What causes this behaviour?
Some dogs learn this behaviour from a young stage as they may have come from a rather large litter, meaning that mealtime was a competition to eat as much before it ran out. Other reasons may be due to medical conditions such as parasites that affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
An easy fix solution could be that the food itself is not giving the dog enough nutrients and it is constantly feeling hungry. By switching the food you are feeding them to something more nutritionally beneficial, you may be able to change your pets eating behaviour and allow them to slow down.
It seems to be that a lot of owners have their own solutions to this problem; many of them can be easily done. By placing a large ball (big enough so they don’t swallow it) in the middle of the bowl will mean they will have to move it around and out of the way as they eat. This will slow them down just enough so that they begin to chew their food and don’t start choking or gagging during feeding time.
Similar to the method above, you can purchase feeding bowls that are designed to slow down the pace of eating. These can range from cheap and simple to more expensive and advanced feeding bowls. Some will have pieces that only allow the dog to eat small bit at once, while others can be programmed to feed small amounts of food and specified intervals.
If none of these seem to be working, there are puzzle bowls and balls that can be introduced to feeing time that will take a bit of time for your pet to figure out. These can include sliding plates that have to be manoeuvred before getting to the food while others involve the treat inside a ball or play toy and the dog will play as it tries to get the treat from inside.
In the end, it is up to you to take control of the feeding of your pet. If you feel as though none of these techniques are working, you will have to feed your pet small amounts throughout the day instead of in big portions. If they are still eating exceptionally fast, see a vet so your pet can be checked for any underlying medical conditions.
If you have any other ways to slow down your pets eating habits, leave a comment below.