If your dog seems to simply inhale his food, well, that’s not at all unusual. I can fill my dog’s dish and before I get out of the kitchen, he’s gobbled it all up.
Eating too quickly can cause all sorts of problems in dogs, though. They can choke on their food, they may vomit after eating too quickly, they may experience excessive gas after eating and have stomach pain. Sometimes, especially in some large breeds, eating too rapidly can lead to a condition called gastric dilatation-volvulus, in which the stomach becomes enlarged and then twists in such a way that the intestines become blocked. This is a life-threatening condition and requires surgery to correct.
So how do you get your dog to eat slower? Here are some simple solutions.
Place an obstacle, such as a tennis ball or a large rock (at least as large as a tennis ball and thoroughly washed), in your dog’s dish. Eating around the obstacle will force your dog to slow down. Of course, your dog may figure out that he can simply take the tennis ball out of his dish. A rock may be more difficult for him to remove.
You can also create an obstacle by placing a smaller bowl upside down in your dog’s dish. Then pour his kibble around the smaller bowl.
Use a Slow Feeder Bowl
Slow feeder bowls are designed to help your dog eat slower. They have obstacles built right into the dish. Some have a large obstacle in the center, similar to what you create with an upside down bowl inside your dog’s dish. Some have large pegs in the dish for your dog to eat around. The one I use, the Kyjen Slo-Bowl Slow Feeder, has groves similar to a maze. I timed my dog and it takes him about 16 minutes to eat his dinner from his slow feeder bowl, while it takes him less than three minutes to eat it from a regular bowl.
Slow feeder bowls can provide mental stimulation for your dog, as well, as he figures out the best way to get his food.
Use a Kibble Dispensing Ball
These are balls that you fill with kibble. Your dog has to roll them around in order to get the kibble to fall out. Some kibble dispensing balls can be adjusted to control how quickly the kibble is dispensed.
My favorite kibble dispensing ball is the JW Rockin Treat Ball. While you cannot adjust how quickly the kibble is dispensed from this ball, it seems to dispense it at a good rate and the ball is very durable, standing up well to my three-year-old lab Isaac, who is a champion chewer.
Pet MD. Controlling Your Pet’s Eating Behavior. The Daily Puppy. What If Puppies Are Eating Their Food Too Fast? Also by This Contributor: Staying Safe at Dog Parks Separation Anxiety in Dogs Tough Toys that Dogs Cannot Destroy