There’s several options to explore to help your dog eat slower if you believe they are eating too fast.
Your options don’t have to be super expensive either – there are some cheaper solutions available to tackle this problem which can save your dog from choking, indigestion issues, internal medical complications, and sometimes harm to other animals and humans (refer to food possessiveness in this guide).
In the guide below, we outline:
– Why dogs might eat too fast
– 9 ways you might help your dog eat slower
Let’s take a look!
(NOTE: this is a general educational and informational guide only. See a qualified professional for expert advice.)
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How To Make Your Dog Eat Slower If They Currently Eat Too Fast
Why A Dog Might Eat Too Fast
Below, we outline the risks of your dog eating food too fast, why they might not be chewing their food, how you might be able to get your dog to eat more slowly, and what it might mean if they vomit afterwards.
What Are The Risks Of My Dog Eating Too Fast and Not Chewing?
This sort of behaviour can be harmful to both the dog, and the people around them.
Firstly, it can be dangerous for the dog if they inhale larger solid pieces of food which carry the risks of causing choking and gagging.
Larger breed dogs are also at risk of internal complications caused by existing medical conditions with fast eating.
Secondly, quick eating can be a sign that your dog is possessive of their food, and wants to consume it quickly as a way of guarding it from other humans and animals.
Possessive dogs can become aggressive and even bite if other humans and animals get near them during feeding.
Why Might A Dog Eat Too Fast?
There are a few reasons a dog may eat too fast, including but not limited to:
Competition with litter mates when the dog was a puppy – which they still have when you buy the puppy, and they never broke out of as they matured into an adult
Competition with other dogs at food time in their previous home if you adopted your dog
A digestive or internal medical condition
The dog not being satisfied or feeling nutritionally full from their current diet
The dog has developed possessiveness of their food
How To Stop A Dog From Eating Too Fast
First of all, if you suspect the issue is medical, to do with your dog’s diet, or to do with aggression/possessiveness, your vet is the best person to see so that they can diagnose, treat or refer the issue to another professional as required.
In the case of dogs that get aggressive or possessive around their food, make sure you give them space when they are eating (make sure kids are well away from them too), and consider getting a professional dog trainer to help you correct the behaviour if you think it’s serious enough.
Interactive Slow Feeder Dog Bowls
If your dog is healthy, and you don’t think the food or possessiveness are an issue, your dog might just need a little help with eating slower.
You can get specially designed dog eating bowls that separate the food into grooves, or smaller areas, so that the dog can only take in smaller amounts of food at a time.
This will get your dog to eat slower as the dog can’t take big gulps like they would an open area round bowl.
Something like the Outward Hound Slow Feeder Interactive Dog Bowl (on Amazon) is popular for owners wanting to slow down their dog’s food consumption pace during feeding.
This will work for puppies and adult dogs alike.
Timed and Automatic Dog Food Feeders
You can also get timed and automatic dog feeders.
The good thing about these machines is you can set the feeder to feed the amounts and intervals that best suit you and your dog.
You can set the feeder up to only release a small amount of food at short intervals apart, so your dog can’t eat all the food at once.
A popular automatic dog food feeder is the Petsafe Automatic Dog Food Feeder (on Amazon).
It has a slow feed mode that dispenses meals greater than 1/8 cup over 15 minutes to help prevent gulping and fast eating.
You have to buy the adapter separately with this feeder.
Other Strategies For Fast Eaters
A couple of other strategies for dogs that eat too fast are:
– Place one or two suitably sized dog toys over dry dog food in the bowl so your dog can’t get access to all the food immediately. They will likely have to move the toys around with their snout/nose to get to all the food – taking them longer to consume it all
– For dry dog food, if chewing is a problem, consider adding some water to make more of a gruel if you are worried about your dog choking or gagging on solid pieces of kibble
What To Do If My Dog Eats Too Fast And Vomits Afterwards?
Vomitting can be caused by a number of reasons. See a vet if your dog is vomitting.
In puppies, it might be because they are sick, they changed from liquid to solid food too quickly, or the food is too rich for them.
In adults, it might be sickness, or the food is toxic.
Vomitting and diarrhea are often signs or symptoms of a bigger problem – so it’s best to get them checked out right away.
9 Potential Solutions For Making A Dog Eat Slower
Below are 9 potential solutions for making a dog eat slower …
1. Using a slow feeder dog bowl and interactive dog bowl to slow down eating
The problem with an open round bowl is that they make it very easy for your dog to grab all the food and swallow it in one or a few gulps.
They have access to all the food at one time.
A cheap option to get rid of this problem is to use a slow feeder and interactive dog bowl like the Outward Hound Slow Feeder Interactive Dog Bowl (on Amazon).
What this bowl does is it divides the dog food up into smaller sections separated by little partitions in the bowl.
Your dog is forced to eat from each individual section of the bowl to get their food.
This works great to not only make your puppy or dog eat smaller amounts of dog food in each lick or mouthful, but to take more time to finish the overall meal (up to 10x longer with the Outward Hound bowl).
2. Use a timed or automatic dog food dispenser and feeder
An absolute foolproof way to make sure your dog is eating slower.
Automatic dog food dispensers and feeders store the dog food inside the dispenser so your dog can’t get access to it.
Your dog can only eat the dog food that the dispenser releases – and you can program how much and when the dispenser releases the food into the dog bowl next to it.
A popular automatic dog food feeder is the Petsafe Automatic Dog Food Feeder (on Amazon).
This dog food feeder can deliver dry or semi moist meal portions from 1/8 cup up to 4 cups.
There is a Slow Feed Mode that dispenses meals greater than 1/8 cup over 15 minutes – which forces your dog to eat slower.
These dispensers tend to work best with harder dry kibble that won’t get caught in dispenser or chute.
Read more about automatic food dispensers for dogs in this guide.
3. Instead of a dog bowl, use a challenging food dog toy to feed your dog
Instead of a dog bowl, you can use an interactive dog food toy to feed your dog.
A toy like the King Wobbler Treat or Food Dispensing Toy (on Amazon) is popular and can work well.
It has two main benefits – 1. It’s interactive so your dog will have to use it’s brain to get the food out of the toy, and 2. It takes longer for your dog to get the food out of this toy than a regular bowl so it will slow down the meal eating time substantially.
If you want to add water to a dry food kibble and make it more of a softer and runnier gruel, you could use a Regular Kong Dog Toy (on Amazon) , where you stuff the food up into the bottom side of the toy, and you dog has to get it out.
The one drawback to each of these toys is that you may have to refill the toy once or twice to serve your dog a whole meal portion, but it depends how big your dog is.
4. Place dog toy/s or other small objects in the dog bowl while your dog is eating
If you have a normal round dog bowl, you can place a small dog toy, a small plastic container or another object in the bowl so your dog has to manuever their mouth and nose around it to eat the food in their bowl.
The toy or object acts as a divider or a concealer for the food it sits ontop.
Of course, if your dog is smart, they may just pick up the toy or container and remove it from the bowl and eat anyway.
But, some owners have used this approach successfully.
5. Make sure your dog is getting a healthy diet
Dogs that eat quickly sometimes do it because they are lacking something in their current diet.
Maybe they are not getting enough protein or calories for example.
Maybe the dog food you are feeding them has very little beneficial nutritional content.
It’s worth speaking to your vet to check that your dog’s current diet is enough to be balanced and meet their nutritional requirements.
6. Allow your dog space and alone time to eat
Some dogs learn to be competitive around food at some point in their life, and can develop possessiveness over it.
When a dog is possessive over food or a bone, they can get aggressive when someone else approaches them while eating, and they may try to finish the meal as quick as possible because they think another animals or human is going to come and take it away.
For these dogs, it’s worth allowing them their own space to eat their food so they don’t feel threatened or like they have to rush or compete for the food.
7. Contact your vet
There could be other internal medical conditions or complications going on inside your dog that cause them to eat fast.
For example, some parasites or bacterial infections can cause imbalances or deficiencies inside your dog which may make them feel hungrier as a result
In this case, it’s worth seeing a vet to make sure your dog is healthy and can get treatment if required to return back to normal bodily function.
8. Try some basic training
This could involve reward based training and commands that encourage your dog to either eat slow, or eat their meals portion by portion (instead of all in one go, or instead of eating everything in just a few seconds).
This guide contains some tips on basic training for dogs.
9. Call in a professional trainer
If you’ve tried everything else and your dog still finds a way to stay a fast eater, it might be worth calling in a professional dog trainer to correct the behaviour.
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