Each dog has his own unique personality. Some are quiet, calm, cool, and collected. Others are amped-up, aggressive, and always enthusiastic.
The same thing applies to a dog’s eating habits. Some dogs will take their time chewing and savoring their meal. Others will rush right to their bowl, and race to get to the bottom of it as if they’re competing in the doggie Olympics.
If your dog is a lot like the latter example, and you’d be the first to say, “My dog eats too fast,” you may want to work with your pet to curb some of those over-aggressive eating habits and patterns. Such efforts are worthwhile for a multitude of reasons – first and foremost, to protect your pet’s short-term and long-term health.
With patience and a good dose of love, you can learn how to make your dog eat slower.
“Fast Food” Health Concerns
It’s not just a matter of making a mess all over your kitchen floor (although that’s never good, either). No, actual health problems can arise when your dog eats too fast.
The obvious primary health concern when it comes to a “fast food”-loving dog is that he could end up gagging or even choking on the food. Larger pieces of unchewed or partially chewed food can pose a major problem – but so can all the air he’s swallowing along with that food when he “wolfs” down his meal. This food-and-air combo platter can expand in your dog’s stomach, causing pain and possibly even canine vomiting.
But it turns out that swallowing too much air during a meal can also lead to a much more serious condition – something known in veterinarian circles as Gastric Dilation-Volvulus (or GDV for short). Also known more casually as “bloat,” GDV can actually be life-threatening to your beloved pet. A rapidly-expanding and twisting canine stomach could even rupture, sending your dog into shock and possibly resulting in death.
Why The Rush?
Reasons for your dog always plowing through his meal may vary. It could be deep-rooted behavior that stems from competing for food with a large number of littermates. It could be that you’re feeding your dog a lower-nutritional-value food than is enough to satisfy him. It could be a side-effect of a medication he’s on. Or it could be that he’s dealing with something more serious, like diabetes mellitus or intestinal parasites.
It’s best to consult with your trusted veterinarian on these matters when and where possible. Regardless of the reason for this sort of binge-eating it’s important to do everything in your power to change this behavior.
Avoid the “Last Meal” Scenario. Change the Behavior…
Nobody wants to see their dog over-indulge in his last meal. The good thing is, as all dog owners know, it’s always possibly to teach a dog some new tricks – even when it comes to treats.
One immediate and impactful change could involve the number of times you feed your dog. If you’re currently feeding him just once a day, try taking that single amount and divvying it up into two or maybe even three meals each day. After all, isn’t this closer to the way you and the other humans in your household eat?
If it’s not the “when” that’s an issue, perhaps it’s more about the “where” when it comes to your dog. If any part of the problem may be related to your dog competing with other dogs for food, you can start right away by feeding each of your pets separately – in their own “safe space,” and possibly even at different times. This one seemingly minor change may go a long way towards allowing your dog to relax and eat slower. If your home is chaotic and loud due to other pets and/or children, you might also consider retraining your dog to eat in a more isolated and quieter area of your house.
In your quest to learn how to make your dog eat slower, you could also invest in a different kind of feeding bowl. Many manufacturers now even offer “slow feeder” bowls that are specially designed to help fast-eating dogs go a bit slower when their food is served.
These are just a few ways you can help your dog slow his role at the bowl.