Slowing Down Your Dog At Mealtime
If you’re struggling to get your dog to slow dog when they eat or have noticed that they eat rather quickly, you have come to the right place. Nothing can be more jarring than setting down your dog’s dinner bowl and having them inhale their entire meal in about three to five seconds. Not only is this behavior concerning, but it can also lead to serious health complications or emergencies. When a dog eats too fast, the likelihood of choking or regurgitation increases, along with reduced digestion and nutrient processing.
To keep your dog from eating too fast, you must control the amount of food the dog can consume at one time. This can be done by feeding them with a slow feeder bowl, interactive toy, snuffle mat, or by hand feeding.
Investing in the right tools will ensure that your dog safely eats its food while also giving you peace of mind. Every dog is different, and you can use a variety of techniques to slow down your dog’s eating habits. Below, I’ll go over some of my favorite feeding methods that will keep your dog entertained and safe from the hazards of eating too fast.
Perhaps the most straightforward and least time-consuming method on your behalf to slow down your dog is to introduce them to a slow-feeder bowl. These bowls are designed to have ridges or grooves where the kibble will rest, which will require your dog to lick up them up individually. You can use these bowls for regular mealtime and clean them about as frequently as you would clean a traditional food bowl.
Depending on how fast your dog eats and the size of their nose, there are a lot of options when it comes to choosing the right slow-feeder bowl for them. A simple spiral shape may do the trick, or you may need to get a maze or spiked bowl for voracious eaters. Either way, these will require your dog to really focus on getting to their food rather than inhaling it all at once. Labrador retrievers, I’m looking at you.
Kashi, our new puppy, has become the queen of inhaling kibble the moment she sees it. While she has been teething, I’ve added a layer of crushed ice on top of her bowl to help soothe her gums. She absolutely loves ice, so crushed cubes are safer for her the solid ones. You can also add warm water, low-sodium beef broth, or peanut butter to these slow-feeders for an added challenge.
If you’re looking for something more challenging than a slow-feeder bowl, you may want to consider interactive toys. For dogs that eat kibble primarily, there are numerous types of dispensers that slowly release pieces when your dog does something, like pressing a designated button.
Here are some of my favorite toys that provide ample food distribution and fun:
- Kong: With three active and high-energy herding dogs, Kongs are a staple in my home. These are great for filling with kibble, peanut butter, dog-safe fruits, treats, or a combination of each.
- Snuffle mat: Snuffle mats are taking the internet by storm and are perhaps the most difficult food challenge you can use regularly. You simply pour your dog’s kibble onto the mat and arrange the pieces are spread out as possible to get your dog really engaged in their meal.
- Puzzle Toys: If you’re like me, the harder the game is for my dog, the more I can get done around the house without having to watch my puppy like a hawk. These puzzle toys, especially the Outward Hound series, provides them with mental stimulation while working for their meal. Creating a game out of mealtime is an easy way to avoid overfeeding with treats, and puzzles are a perfect way to achieve this.
Handmade snuffle mats can hold up to 2 cups of kibble and make an enticing game out of mealtime. These mats reduce eating speed and help with mental stimulation for your dog
If you’re looking to get creative and save a few bucks, try using items around your home to make your dog work a little bit harder for their meal. Cupcake or muffin trays can quickly be repurposed into an excellent way to break up your dogs’ food into several small areas so that they aren’t consuming a lot of food at one time. You can also lay kibble across a towel and roll it up very tightly, making your dog work to unravel the towel to get the food bits wrapped inside.
Keeping your dog from eating too fast will not only allow you to give them some much-needed mental stimulation, but it will also prevent choking and regurgitation. Ensuring your dog is safe during mealtime is simple with the right tools and is definitely easy to achieve.