Many dogs are ravenous eaters and while you may not think much of this tendency, eating too quickly can be problematic. Not only can scarfing down a meal put your dog at risk of choking, it could also lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and, in extreme cases, bloat.
Bloat is a dangerous medical condition known clinically as gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV). It occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with air, causing pressure to build and reducing blood flow. The stomach may also twist inside the dog’s abdomen, displacing other organs and further restricting blood flow, causing a dog to go into shock.
Studies have shown that dogs who eat quickly are 5 times more likely to experience bloat than slow eaters. While bloat is rare (and rate of eating isn’t the only potential cause), it’s better to be safe than sorry!
So how can you help your dog eat more slowly?
Break the meal into smaller, separate servings
If your dog tends to wolf down their meal in an instant, breaking meals into smaller, separate servings will help slow them down. Instead of providing their whole serving all at once, offer tiny servings with a small break in between. Even just a minute between bites will help aid digestion and reduce the risk of vomiting and bloat.
Turning mealtime into a training session is a great way to keep your dog engaged between bites. Plus, it helps reinforce their basic commands and is a wonderful way to spend quality time together!
Use a slow-feeder bowl
Slow-feeder bowls are a popular tactic to prevent dogs from gobbling up their food. These bowls have ridges or lumps built into them, making it impossible for dogs to take giant mouthfuls of food all at once. Instead, they must work around the obstructions to access their food.
Slow-feeder bowls come in many different designs, and there are options for different sizes of dogs, too. Small dogs and short-nosed breeds likely require lower ridges than large breed dogs.
If your dog is super enthusiastic about mealtime, a slow-feeder bowl may not be enough to slow them down. Puzzle feeders are an excellent choice for dogs that require more of a challenge.
Incorporate puzzle feeders
Not only do puzzle feeders help slow your dog’s eating, but they offer mental stimulation as well, making them a wonderful option for high-energy dogs. Puzzle feeders are interactive toys that force your dog to solve small puzzles in order to access their food. There are many different types of puzzle feeders of various shapes and complexities. Some have secret compartments that your pup must access by sliding pieces aside, while others are more simple.
One of the most popular puzzle feeders is the Kong. This bulbous toy has a hole in the middle, which you can fill with kibble or moist food (making it a perfect match for Rollover) for dogs to extract with their tongue.
Even simple puzzle toys make food more difficult to access than a standard food bowl, so they will all help slow your dog’s eating.
The Bottom Line
We can’t fault dogs for finding Rollover pet food so delicious (we’re flattered!), but eating anything too quickly can lead to an upset stomach or worse. If your dog is an overly-enthusiastic eater, these tactics will help slow them down. And remember, gamifying meal time does more than aid digestion; it also offers mental stimulation and the opportunity to bond with your pup while rewarding them with delicious food.