How to Stop a Dog From Eating Too Fast: Tips to Prevent Bloat
Did you know that when a dog eats too fast, it can cause a life threatening condition called Bloat?
Does Your Dog Gulp Down Food? Why Some Dogs Eat Too Fast
Does it appear that your dog is inhaling his or her food without chewing it first? Does he or she eat as if they've been starving and haven’t eaten in days? This is more common than you may think, but it isn’t healthy and should be stopped. There are many ideas you can try, but first, let’s understand why this happens.
Have you ever heard the saying “wolfing down food?” The primary ancestry of domestic dogs is the wolf. Wolves in the wild typically do not get to eat every day depending on what prey is available. Therefore, they may go many days without eating and when they do have food, they gorge themselves or what we may call “wolf it down.” They do not know when they will be able to eat again, so they take this opportunity to digest as must as possible. It is believed that some domesticated dogs still base their eating habits on this premise.
Many dogs have a history of being starved and malnourished. You may not be aware of this history, especially if you rescue a dog from the shelter. They may be extremely possessive over their food and feel the need to eat fast because they are afraid of starvation.
Just as with human families, rivalry may be an issue. Many dogs feel they need to eat fast to compete against other dogs and animals in the house, making sure others do not have access to “their” food. They believe the easiest way for them to keep their food safe is to eat it quickly.
What Happens When a Dog Eats Too Fast . . .
. . . and Why You Must Break This Habit!
Stopping your dog from eating too fast can be a challenge. Yet, this can lead to health problems which should be a big cause for concern. Not only can your dog easily choke and vomit, they can develop a life threatening condition called bloat.
When a dog swallows too much air while eating fast, this causes their stomach to swell and rotate which in turn puts pressure on other organs in the body. Air, water and food become trapped in the stomach. Bloat can quickly become life threatening because it can lead to the blood flow being cut off causing low blood pressure, internal organ damage and shock.
The main symptom of bloat in dogs is unsuccessful vomiting. Your dog attempts to vomit but nothing comes up except maybe some mucous and/or foam. Among other symptoms, they won’t be acting like their usual self, may be anxious and appear in pain.
Bloat is extremely serious and can cause death in a very short time (less than an hour). Immediate emergency medical treatment is necessary.
The texture and shape of dog food is helpful in removing plaque and tartar on their teeth. When the dog swallows the food rather than chewing thoroughly, this benefit is nonexistent and can lead to future dental issues.
Choking can also be life threatening, especially if the dog is unable to cough up the food.
Vomiting and Regurgitating
When the stomach cannot handle so much food at once, it will be regurgitated before it has been digested. If the food is digested to the stomach quickly, this may cause stomach contractions followed by vomiting. Neither is pleasant to the dog and could harm organs such as the esophagus.
Breaking the Habit of Your Dog Eating Too Fast
Many dog owners think the problem of eating too fast will just go away and fix itself. The truth is that it may even get worse without intervention. The good news is there are remedies that work.
Give Your Dog a Hand
Literally! Allowing your dog to eat a few pieces of food at a time from your hand will certainly slow down their eating. This may also help a preconceived notion that he has to eat fast before it is all gone.
Just make sure they are not the type of dog that may want to eat your hand!
Simply pour a small cup of water in the food dish then add the food. The floating food is more difficult to “catch” and will slow down the eating process. In addition, this will help release gases that are formed when the food is compacted. You could also add ice cubes to the food.
Turn a standard stainless steel dog food dish upside down. OR use a Bundt cake pan. The food will be distributed around the ring and keep moving around taking much longer to eat.
Rock in the Way
Place a large (washed) rock in the center of the food dish forcing the dog to work harder to get to the food. Be sure the rock is too large for them to pick up and try to eat.
For smaller dogs with smaller mouths, a softball can be placed in the center of their food dish. Note: this will not work with larger dogs that can simply take the ball out.
My Little Muffin
Spread the dog’s normal amount of food throughout the compartments of a muffin pan. OR use a large flat pan such as a cookie sheet to spread the food around. It will definitely take them longer to eat.
As mentioned above, some dogs have a competitive nature when eating near other animals. To help them not feel as though someone else is going to get their food, separate the animals when eating into different corners of the room or in different rooms.
What’s On Their Agenda?
If your dog is eating too fast and they are familiar with a certain feeding schedule, change the agenda so the time they eat is not expected. It is best to feed dogs the proper amount of food for their size and breed at least twice a day. Those that eat only once a day are more likely to wolf their food down.
A dog treat ball can be filled with food, not just treats. Using a treat ball will not only slow down eating, it will provide entertainment and potentially help stop other destructive behavior such as chewing on furniture, digging, etc.
The Importance of Stopping Your Dog From Eating Too Fast
The information in this article is not intended to replace medical advice. If you are unsure about what is going on with your dog, please speak with your veterinarian.
In the meantime, if your dog is eating too fast, it can potentially lead to life threatening complications. I hope you find the above recommendations helpful.
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Questions & Answers
How can I help my dog to eat slowly and actually chew his food?
To help teach your dog to eat slowly, hand feed the kibble one or two pieces at a time.