Does Your Dog Gulp Down Their Food?
Some dogs are notoriously fast eaters and inhale their food in the blink of an eye. This dog behavior is very common and often develops in the early stages of a pup’s life. Many people don’t consider fast eating a concern. However, eating too quickly can cause a variety of problems that pet owners should know about.
Yelling at your dog or punishing him will only make them fear you. It will not stop this bad habit. Instead, try understanding the reason for the behavior and taking the right steps to ensure your dog is healthy and learns to eat slower. Take note of our tips and tricks below to cut this bad habit for a safer way for your dogs to chow down their food.
Why Some Dogs Eat So Fast
As a puppy, they have to compete with their littermates for food. This means eating quickly before their siblings beat them to it. These competitive instincts may follow dogs into adulthood leading them to keep this bad habit. This could be especially true if there are multiple dogs in your household. It can be that your dog is fearful of another dog eating all of their food or that they want to finish their food quickly so they can move onto the other dog’s food.
Before we get into the health risks of eating too fast, here are some underlying medical issues that may cause dogs to eat quickly.
- Diabetes: When a dog’s body can’t convert their food into energy, this may cause an increased appetite. If the disease is not under control the issue could worsen.
- Worms: Parasites and worms feed on dog’s nutrients, which may cause a deficiency in their body. This can make them feel hungrier more often leading to eating as fast as they can to fulfill their hunger.
- Hyperthyroid: An underactive thyroid can cause an increase in hunger. This gland is directly connected to the metabolic rate of a dog, which can lead to weight gain as well. If you notice a drastic weight gain in your dog it is best to go to your veterinarian to see if they have a hyperthyroid problem.
Low Nutritional Food
Another reason for fast eating could be dog food with not enough nutritional value. If dogs do not get enough nutrition they won’t feel satisfied and will continue to be hungry. As a result, they will “inhale” their food every time you feed them. You may think dog food that says “complete and balanced” means it has everything a dog needs, but think again. Instead, look at what’s in the food on the ingredient list. Make sure it has specific meat listed at the top instead of plant or grain protein-based food.
If you find any of these reasons to be the cause, be careful of the food you are giving your dog. Either way, you should limit the speed of your dog’s consumption before it causes any health problems.
Know the Health Risks
When dogs eat quickly, it can lead to more serious problems like choking. Rushing when eating kibbles or treats doesn’t allow the dog to chew or break down the food and it can get stuck in their esophagus. This can cause serious breathing problems. If this were to happen, carefully open the dog’s mouth and try to remove the food. Always seek medical help if it becomes an emergency.
Dogs who don’t take their time eating can ingest a significant amount of air, which can come back up as regurgitation or vomiting. If your dog seems to be bloated, this can indicate that the problem is getting worse and you should see your veterinarian immediately.
GDV (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus)
One of the most severe issues of eating too quickly is GDV. When ingesting air dogs can also develop a gas build up within the body. The stomach lining expands to a very large size, which causes the stomach to twist. As a result, the blood flow is cut off causing a swollen abdomen, vomiting, pale gums, low temperature, panting, and a rapid heartbeat.
In terms of eating, slow and steady really does win the race. Slow eaters are less likely to become obese or develop any metabolic problems. Dogs who eat fast can develop metabolism issues that can cause high blood pressure, low cholesterol, and weight gain.
Eating too quickly doesn’t allow food to digest the right way. The body won’t be able to break down the proteins and utilize the nutrition. This can upset the liver, pancreas, rectum, and esophagus. Symptoms of digestive problems include changes in appetite, weight loss, fever, abdominal pain, lethargy, and changes in stool.
Slow Down Those Fast Eaters
Feed More Often
If your weekly schedule allows for It, consider dividing your dog’s meals into several smaller meals and feed them at regular intervals throughout each day. This may not prevent your dog from eating fast, but it will prevent them from eating too much too fast. It will also allow them to digest the smaller dish of food faster than the bigger meals.
Turn Meal Time into Training Time
One way to train your dog from eating too quickly is to put a treat in their dish while they are eating, so they understand that no one is trying to take the food away. This will hopefully slow them down and make meal time a little more calm and pleasant. If this does not work, a last resort option is hand feeding them so they get the proper amount at one time. This will obviously require more of your time, which may not work for all pet owners.
Feed Dogs Separately
As said earlier, dogs have competed since their litter to eat quickly before the others eat it all first. This becomes an instinct that will follow them into adulthood and their new homes. If your household has more than one dog, it may be a good idea to consider putting each dog bowl in a different room during meal time. This will prevent the competition instinct to finish all their food before the others eat it. When dogs know another dog is not capable of stealing their food this will help them to not be anxious and they will eat slower.
Change Dog Bowls
There are many different dog food bowls that prevent dogs from eating too fast. Some of these include “slow feeder” bowls that are made to slow down fast eaters. They come in various sizes and shapes. You can also purchase food puzzle toys. These have treats inside that only dispense when dogs roll, slide, or move the toy. This keeps dogs active and get rewarded for doing so! The toy will also encourage your dog to use their brain to solve the puzzle.
Below are a few of our favorite products found on Amazon that will help slow down your dogs eating.
1. Decyam Pet Fun Feeder Dog Bowl:
- Non-toxic, ecofriendly
- High quality material that is BPA free
- No mess
- Promotes healthy eating
- Suitable for both dry and wet dog food
2. Outward Hound Fun Feeder:
- Made of 100% natural material
- Makes meal time fun
- Controls dog’s food intake
- Sticks to the ground, no sliding
- Promotes slow eating with no bloating
3. Pedy Pet Fun Feeder Dog Bowl:
- Ecofriendly, non-toxic, durable
- Food-grade plastic
- BPA, PVC, and phthalate free
- Makes eating more challenging yet interesting
- Non-slip design
- Great for wet and dry food
Use Puzzle Toys
1. OurPets IQ Treat Ball:
- Promotes healthy feeding
- Adjustable feeding levels
- Dogs get rewarded with treats for being active
- Twists apart for easy cleaning
- Suitable for small to medium dogs
2. Wellood Dog Treat Dispenser Ball Toy:
- Interactive – see, smell, hear
- Slows down feeding
- Aids in digestion
- Reduces boredom
- 100% safe and natural material
- Durable and fun
3. RUFFWEAR – Gnawt-a-Rock Durable Dog Toy:
- Reduces destructive behavior
- Breathable holes for dogs to smell treats
- Promotes clean teeth and gums
- Designed to bounce
- Durable and non-toxic material
Did You Know Dogs Can Also Drink Too Fast?
Many pet owners do not realize the potential threat of dogs drinking too fast. Water intoxication can be potentially fatal and cause hyponatremia, which is low blood sodium level. This can happen from dogs ingesting too much water from lawn sprinklers, hoses, or being dehydrated and drinking too much at once.
After exercising, make sure your dog hydrates in a safe matter. If your dog drinks their entire bowl, let them settle for a while before filling it back up. You can also bring water with you during exercise to keep your dog hydrated with short water breaks.