Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of Brain Training for Dogs.
How to Slow Down a Dog That's Eating Too Fast
A dog eating fast is not only a bad habit, but also a cause for concern since it may lead to several health problems. If you own a dog that wolfs down its food as soon as you put it down, be assured there are ways to address this problem and calm your dog down. Learn what causes your dog to want to gulp down his food, what health disorder he may be predisposed to and also ways you can finally put an end to this frustrating bad habit.
Why Is My Dog Eating so Fast?
The reasons may be several. First of all, it is a good idea to look a bit back into the dog's ancestry. The dog, ''canis lupus familiaris'', as the name implies, derives from the wolf. If you ever watched a pack of wolves eat, you get the idea where the term ''wolfing down fast'' derives from. Jim and Jamie Dutcher in their wonderful book ''Wolves at Our Door'' explain how they were able to witness wolves eating. The wolves after killing their prey, gorged themselves with food, sometimes even consuming as much as 30 pounds of meat at a time!
3 Reasons Why Your Dog Wolfs Its Food
In the wild, wolves do not get to eat every day, because prey is not always readily available. This means often that they get to eat every 3-4 days, therefore when they do eat, they are hungry and as opportunistic beings, they are eager to gulp down as much they can. Then, the following days are spent lounging and digesting the enormous meal. Now, domestic dogs eat every day, often twice a day, but they still appear to have retained this habit of wanting to gulp down things fast perhaps abiding to their theory ''you never know when your next meal may be.''
If you have a multi-dog home, very likely your dogs gulp down fast to prevent the other dog from having the opportunity to have access to the food. So the safest way to protect their food is to keep it in the belly! This behavior is intensified the closer the dogs are within each other when eating. This is why it is best to keep them out of reach from one another.
3. A History of Starvation
Some dogs, especially those rescued with an unknown history, may devour their food. These dogs may have had a history of starvation and being malnourished, and like the wolves, may have a need to finish the food fast in fear of starvation. Some of these dogs may be so eager to eat that they are also possessive over the food and will growl if anybody approaches .
4 Problems Caused by Eating Too Fast
Dogs eating fast comes with its sets problems. This is another reason why if your dog is eating very fast you have to do something about it. Following are some medical conditions or problems that may arise due to eating too fast.
If you own a large, deep chested dog, then you should be concerned about bloat since this condition prefers dogs of this type. Smaller dogs however can also be affected at times. Bloat may arise when a dog swallows too much air causing the stomach to swell up and put pressure on other organs and even twist upon itself causing its blood flow to be cut off. Bloat can be quickly deadlt and requires emergency treatment.
If a dog eats too much too fast, the stomach many not be able to keep up and to avoid the workload, may send everything back up within a few minutes. If a dog brings food back up before being digested, the dog is actually regurgitating therefore unlike in vomiting, pieces of kibble can be seen, and the food brought up is often of a tubular slimy shape due to having been in the esophagus. A regurgitating dog also does not have stomach contractions, but rather the food comes up easily with the dog remaining passive and not appearing anxious.
Obviously a dog that eats too fast will likely choke if it is not careful. This is something you want to prevent as choking can be life threatening if the dog is unable to cough the food particle back to its right path.
4. Teeth Problems
One of the biggest advantages of feeding kibble to dogs is that its shape and texture helps keep the teeth clean and its scraping action may help remove some plaque located near the top of a dog’s teeth. If the dog swallows the most of its food, this scraping action will not exist, causing tartar and plaque to accumulate in all areas of the teeth.
How To Stop Dogs From Eating Too Fast
Stopping a dog from eating too fast has never been simpler.
- If you own multiple dogs, you best bet is to find a distance in which they feel more comfortable. This should be far enough that both dogs do not appear to tense up and are able to ignore each other. If you are in doubt, simply put them in the farthest opposite sides of your home.
- To stop eating fast all together, today special food bowls are on the market to solve the problem once and for all. These bowls are shaped in such a way that prohibit the dog from eating too fast. If dogs will want to eat with these bowls it will have to be slow. If your dog will try to move the bowl around invest in one with a rubbery base that prevents it from sliding and moving around.
Once your dog calms down in eating, you will notice your dog will be able to digest better and you do not have to worry about cleaning up messes left behind after eating too fast.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 09, 2017:
Meryl, how about feeding your dog using a Kong Wobbler?
Meryle on December 01, 2017:
I have a slow bowl and she still eating too fast l also tried a bowl with a huge rock in it it worked fine but now she knows how to move it quick so now she is eating fast ☹️
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 30, 2012:
Yes, eating fast does not help your dog's teeth. Also, look for some good dental chews to help scrape away tartar, best wishes!.
Lorna on October 30, 2012:
I just acquired a 2 yr old dog with vacuum syndrome...no wonder the vet said her teeth weren't so good for her age....no cleaning from the food...!
Love the fact that there is a special bowl - another example of Keep It Simple.....! Thanks for this....hopefully save me $$ for teeth cleaning.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 01, 2012:
Bukarella, happy you do not have this problem! My male was a sort of Hoover vacuum when he was younger. Happy you liked the picture, that's my Petra~!
Lyudmyla Hoffman from United States on June 30, 2012:
Okay, this is not a problem with our dog, but I had to stop by and comment on the picture - I love it!
mybabytia1 on March 03, 2011:
Wow my dog also eats very fast. I never knew it was cause for concern. Thanx for the hub now I know he needs to slow down. He hasn't had any of the problems you listed but better be safe than sorry again thanx for sharing!!!
DogToys from England on March 02, 2011:
Ha ha! my dogs eat so quick.
GetSmart on March 02, 2011:
I have the pacer balls - same concept only the ball isn't attached so you can put it in any bowl. These work great and those prices on amazon are much lower than at the pet stores.
Pamela Lipscomb from Charlotte, North Carolina on February 24, 2011:
Very informative. I did not know they have these types of bowls. Thanks
lindatymensky on February 19, 2011:
Very useful hub! Next time I'm at the pet store I'm going to look for one of these bowls that slow a dog down when gulping food. I need one. I didn't know they existed.
Dallas W Thompson from Bakersfield, CA on February 18, 2011:
Flag up and "useful!"
ocbill from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice on February 18, 2011:
wow! these are so common yet I see solutions nowhere but you always have it. I remember my st bernard moving the bowl around when she ate & she did scarf down the food. I actually think she wanted to eat fast so she could get the other dogs food. we soon moved his bowl into another fenced off location so he can eat in peace. But then it seemed odd, as he'd leave some food for her to get once he's done.
Perpeptua on February 18, 2011:
Stop them from eating fast food? Why, what's the matter with burgers?
Peter Owen from West Hempstead, NY on February 18, 2011:
these actually do work. I use the bowl with the big metal ball in it. doees't slow the dog down from trying to eat fast, but does limit how much he can get in with each bite
SUSIE DUZY from Delray Beach, Florida on February 18, 2011:
Thanks for the tips. I try to get my dog to eat slower too.