Is your dog a food gobbler?
You may think that your pup has a healthy appetite, but this behavior can also indicate the presence of an underlying issue that needs your attention.
Truth is, some dogs eat naturally fast, and will swallow anything that comes their way. In other cases, there’s a specific cause that leads to this habit.
Either way, you should try to get your dog to ear more slowly to avoid conditions such as bloat.
Luckily, there’s a lot you can do. But before trying anything else, you should start by understanding exactly what’s causing the problem.
In this post, I’ll answer the question, “Why does my dog eat so fast?”, and talk about the risks and issues associated with it.
What Happens If a Dog Eats Too Fast?
To start with, eating too fast may cause your dog to choke, as he’s more than likely swallowing his food without chewing.
Another problem with rapid eating is the fact that it causes your dog to swallow air. This can lead to stomach discomfort, and make your dog vomit or regurgitate.
But perhaps the most disconcerting part in eating too fast is a condition called Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV). Gastric dilation, or bloat, is a serious medical issue where the stomach expands with food and gas, which may cause it to erupt.
If this happens, it can be fatal, so it really is an important habit to break.
Why Does My Dog Eat so Fast: 3 Main Reasons
1. Underlying Medical Issues
If your dog has an untreated pathological problem that interferes with the absorption of food or metabolism, he will always feel hungry and therefore eat fast to try and satisfy his craving.
Before we get into the things you can change to slow down your dog’s eating behavior, here are some of the medical causes related to fast-eating:
- Diabetes: One of the major symptoms of diabetes is increased appetite and excessive thirst. Especially if your dog’s blood sugar levels aren’t under control, his body can’t convert food into energy.
- Cushing’s disease: As is the case in diabetes, Cushing’s disease can also spike insulin levels, which are responsible for regulating hunger.
- Hyperthyroidism: An overactive thyroid can also lead to an increase in appetite and even weight gain, as this gland has a direct effect on metabolic rate.
- Worms: Since worms and other parasites feed on your dog’s nutrients, it may create a deficiency in his body, which can make him experience more hunger than is normal.
2. Low-quality Food
All dog foods aren’t created the same. Some brands simply have an inferior nutritional value, which means that if you feed them to your dog, he may not feel satisfied. As a result, every time you give him his food, he gulps it down immediately.
Don’t be fooled simply because a particular brand says that it’s “complete and balanced”. Instead, look at the list of ingredients. If it’s a plant or grain protein-based food, it’s not going to digest as well as food with animal protein.
3. Competitive Eating
In every litter of puppies, there are usually one or two who need to compete for their food while still nursing. This behavior can quickly turn into a pattern, and continue to influence the dog throughout his life.
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Similarly, if you run a multi-dog household, competition over food may be the reason for the hasty eating problem. If one dog is constantly worried that another will steal his food, he will try to scarf it up as fast as he can.
Likewise, he might be a bit of a glutton, and eats his own food quickly so he can move onto someone else’s.
8 Easy Ways to Slow down Your Dog’s Eating
1. Talk with Your Vet
First and foremost, ask your vet to check your dog to make sure he’s healthy. You want to rule out any health issues that might interfere with your dog’s ability to feel full or absorb nutrients.
2. Switch to Another Food
Try switching to a quality dog food with no fillers to make sure it’s easily digestible along with providing your dog with the nutrition he needs. Also, look for something with high-fiber content, as it will help make your dog feel full without adding extra calories.
3. Feed Your Dogs Separately
In a house with multiple dogs, you really do need to feed each dog with its own plate and in separate rooms, so they have their own private space to eat quietly.
That way, no dog will have to fear for his food or get the chance to steal another dog’s meal, which may eventually lead to food aggression.
4. Spread Out the Meals
It sometimes helps to divide your dog’s normal portion into two smaller meals. This is especially true if you’ve previously been feeding him once a day. Try giving your pup half of his food in the morning and another half in the evening. This will keep him more satisfied.
5. Stick to a Feeding Schedule
Don’t wait until your dog gets too hungry and eats fast to simply fill up. Instead, decide what time of day he will get his meals, and turn it into a routine.
6. Get a “Slow Down” Eating Bowl
These uniquely shaped dog bowls are by far the best way to deal with this problem. Every dish is designed to slow your dog down while he’s eating, but not in a way that interferes with the eating itself. As a bonus, it can also prevent choking, bloating, and overeating, all while helping with weight management.
I recommend getting a slow feed dog bowl that’s not made of plastic. This maze dish, for example, is made of durable bamboo fiber, and it’s designed by experienced veterinarians that wanted to mimic the natural eating habits of dogs.
If you’re not ready to invest in a special bowl, you can use the one you have, and place a tennis ball in the center of the dish. While not a fool-proof method, it makes it just a little bit harder on your dog to eat fast.
7. Hide The Food
Another way to slow down your dog’s eating is by hiding your dog’s food in different places throughout the house, so he would have to look for them and eat a few kibbles at a time.
You can also hide his food inside a dog puzzle toys for the same result.
8. Use A Treat-Dispensing Toy
Similarly, you can give your dog his food inside a treat ball or a Kong toy. These toys are designed to make your dog work for his meal, while slowing him down in the process.