Does your dog try to break the record for fastest eater? Has he tried to empty his dish so fast he will actually choke? You’re not alone. Dogs inhaling their food is a common problem that many owners face, and it’s something that may cause health problems in the future. That’s why many pet product manufacturers now make dog food bowls that slow down eating.
In the past when we had a dog that ate like this, for any reason, there wasn’t much that could be done. Feeding your pooch a few pieces at a time was the only solution for most food gulpers, but obviously an inconvenient one.
But why do some dogs gulp their food?
Veterinarians say there are clear reasons for why your dog is doing this. For example, rescue dogs from places where they were in a group situation typically try to eat as much as they can as fast as they can. They are used to racing the others to eat quickly so as not to be left hungry.
Puppies in a group situations learn this behavior early on if they are not fed separately once they are 8 weeks old. There are also dogs that by nature seem to want to eat this way, too.
No matter where the behavior comes from, it can be very dangerous and have health consequences for your dog. The most common danger of your dog eating too quickly is choking and vomiting, but also the dog may develop food aggression, guarding problems or it can lead to gastric dilatation volvulus (also known as canine bloat).
While there are some good tips on how to slow down your dog’s eating process, there is also a much easier solution – dog food bowls that slow down eating. These puzzle bowls for dogs only allow your Fido to access a few pieces of kibble at a time. Without your interference, they slow down his eating speeding and provide needed mental stimulation for your pet. So here’s what you need to know about these puzzle bowls.
Dog Food Bowls That Slow Down Eating
why and when you need one for your pet
Before You Get a Puzzle Bowl…
Before you start buying dog food bowls that slow down eating, you can try a few simple tricks if your dog is eating too fast. In a multi-pet household, try feeding each dog separately from others, that way there is no competition for food. Sometimes this will work and when your pooch realizes he is alone, he may slow down.
You should know in a week or so if your dog’s behavior is going to change with this trick. Some dogs just need to be alone. This also curbs food aggression.
Here are a few other tricks to slow down your dog’s eating:
Make smaller meals. You can always feed your dog in much smaller portions, several times throughout the day. This way even if he inhales his food, it won’t be such a big deal due to small amounts. However, this will not fix this food gulping habit.
Create obstacles. If you don’t want to invest in dog food bowls that slow down eating, then you can replicate their formula yourself. For example, if you have a dog feeding mat (or something similar), you can spread out food on it in different sections. This makes your dog having to move towards pieces, slowing him down.
Feed by hand. An even more inconvenient option for both you and your dog is to simply feed your pet by hand. You can slowly give him the amount that you think is safe. While this may work in the beginning, it gets tiresome after a few weeks.
Use the environment. In summer time (or whenever weather is nice), you can go to your yard and spread his food on the grass. Letting your dog sniff out the food slows him down and provides a good amount of mental stimulation, which directly replicates what puzzle dog bowls do.
See a behaviorist. Dog eating too fast is simply a behavior problem that can be fixed in most canines. If you’re concerned, you can see an animal behaviorist who will work with your pooch on this. That said, it may be significantly cheaper to simply get a dog food bowl that slows down eating.
Switch to wet foods. Not only this may slow down your dog’s eating process, but wet dog foods is also less likely to cause choking and is easier to digest due to higher moisture content. Unfortunately, it’s more expensive and usually higher in carbohydrates.
Try medications. Probably as the last resort, you can try pet medication that works similar to drugs like Prozac. They work specifically for this problem, but you must only use them in extreme cases and consult with a veterinarian beforehand.
Those are just some of the tricks you can employ to slow down your dog’s eating. They all require some work and your involvement to a certain extent. Embrace Pet Insurance has an article with a few more quick tips here. Ultimately, the easiest way is still to get dog food bowls that slow down eating, as they provide more than just one benefit. So let’s talk about them.
When It’s Time for Dog Food Bowls that Slow Down Eating
If you have a dog who is a speed eater, and none of the tricks above worked to slow your dog’s eating habits (or you simply don’t think they’re worth the effort), then it’s time to look into a more convenient option – puzzle bowls. Most pet stores and supply catalogs carry specially made dog food bowls that slow down eating, and they don’t cost much.
There are various types of these bowls, but they all serve the same purpose – slowing down your dog while he’s consuming food. Samantha recently did an extensive review of some of the most popular puzzle dog food bowls from Outward Hound right here.
Most puzzle dog bowls are made with irregular bumps of varying sizes in them. The food goes around the dish and fills in the valleys between the bumps and projections. In order to get his food, your dog has to work at it and get the pieces from the valleys. They are made in different sizes for different dogs, so you should be able to get the size you need.
There’s more than one benefit to these puzzle bowls.
What pet owners forget is that dog bowls that slow down eating will go a long way in helping your pet’s digestion as well. No more indigestion, canine bloat and gas from swallowing lots of air while your pooch tries to inhale as much food into his mouth as he possibly can.
These bowls also provide mental stimulation for the dog, and it’s one of the more effective ways to keep your dog’s brain active without you having to do anything. Your canine is forced to figure out how to get his food, and will have to do this at least twice a day.
To see more examples of this, check out another review from Samantha – the Guzzle Muzzle slow feeder. Like I mentioned, there are many different types of dog bowls that slow down eating.
Some are more complicated for dogs to figure out than others (but they cost more, too); some are cheaper and cost as much as regular dog food bowls. But, here’s what you must keep in mind before getting one…
Puzzle dog bowls will NOT work for every breed.
Almost all dog food bowls that slow down eating are designed to work for specific types of dogs. They will not work on short nose breeds like Pekingese, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Boxers or any breeds with that short snout look. This is because of the way puzzle bowls are designed, and these breeds will not be able to access their food, plain and simple.
Unfortunately, if you have one of these breeds and your dog is eating too fast, then the only answer here is for you to attempt re-training, crating your pet alone or feeding him a few pieces at a time (or employing any of the other tips I’ve mentioned above).
Want to see a slow dog bowl in action?
Check out the below video with Samantha’s dogs using the slow feeder bowl (and she also gives you a good explanation of how dog bowls that slow down eating work, and what to look for when considering buying one):
Don’t Ignore Training Your Dog Either
With all of the above said, it’s important to note that training your dog not to inhale his food is still an important part of your overall dog training routine. This is especially true for young puppies. So let’s discuss this a little further.
If you have puppies who are eating too fast, or you see this habit starting to develop, separate them from their own dishes, and put them in different rooms or crates to eat. This will prevent the bolting from becoming a habit that is hard to break.
When feeding your single dog or several dogs, keep the atmosphere very calm. Dogs will react to a high energy action and make it much worse. Teach your dogs to sit before you give them their dishes. This will take practice, but most of them get the idea that sitting nicely will give them what they want.
Here’s the best trick to slow down your dog’s eating.
I saved the best for last. Most pet owners with dogs who eat too fast have already figured this out, but if you haven’t, you’ll love this simple and quick remedy until you can buy an interactive puzzle dog bowl feeder.
Simply put a ball in your dog’s dish (about 50% size of the bowl).
This way your dog-food-inhaler will have to work around the ball in the bowl to get to his kibble, which will slow him down. It’s the easiest and quickest way to slow down a dog who’s eating too fast. Take a look at some of the answers here on Quora – one person, Ro Scott, have included a picture and details of how they did this exact trick.
So, why not just stick with a ball in the food dish and avoid puzzle bowls?
This is a short-term solution in most cases. As my (and other dog owners’) experience tells me, majority of dogs will eventually figure it out and simply remove the ball and continue to gulp their food. If your dog is extremely food motivated, he may not think of this, but a slow feeder bowl is still a more permanent and fool-proof solution.
If you’re starting to look for one, dog food bowls that slow down eating go by many names – slow bowls, slow feeders, interactive feeder, puzzle feeder, etc. This depends on the company you are looking at, and there are many choices online and in local stores. Your vet may even carry a brand they have had good luck with as well, so consult with your veterinarian when you go there to talk about your pup inhaling food.
Here are a few I would personally recommend:
Fun Feeder by Outward Hound – by far the best one in its category (check out Samantha’s review, link above). They also have several sizes for different dogs, and a few different designs. It’s very affordable, too.
Non-Slip Interactive Feeder – a good alternative to the Outward Hound bowl that works exactly the same and it’s also cheaper. It’s great for smaller dogs. They only have one design and one size.
Skid Stop Slow Feed Bowl – the cheapest dog slow feeder that I could find that’s also been well reviewed, and I do like it. It’s not as complex as the above two, so it may not work on all dogs that eat too fast, but it will work for some. For the price of just $4 (small size), it’s worth a try to see how it goes anyway.
Getting this habit under control is important for your dog’s health in the long run. It helps to avoid many minor digestive upsets like vomiting and diarrhea. Once your dog is used to the new way of eating you may even see a change in his attitude. He will not be so excited to gobble his food and his while attitude could become calmer.
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