Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How to Slow Down a Fast Eater

By Eliza Wynn

If your dog is a fast eater, you've probably had to clean up after him more than once. There are two reasons for the need to clean after your pet eats:  the area can get messy during the feeding frenzy, and gulped-down food doesn't always stay down. Either way, it's no fun for you, and in the latter case, it's no fun for your dog either.

Dogs that tend to eat too fast can't catch a break. They have the hungries, and the food is right there waiting for them, so what's the problem? Why should they slow down and risk letting a piece of kibble get away? It's not fair!

It may not be fair, but it's much better for your dog to slow down at mealtime. Fast eaters tend to have more digestive problems than those who take their time. Besides being a choking hazard, eating too fast increases the risk of dangerous bloating from swallowing too much air. Fortunately, there are a few things responsible pet owners can do to help slow down a fast eater.

Feed by hand

If you have time, try hand feeding your dog. It's a terrific way to spend quality time with him, and since you control the pace, this is the most effective way to get him to eat more slowly. Offer one piece at a time; if you don't hear any crunching, hold back a few seconds before offering another bite.

Scatter the kibble

One fun game is to toss the kibble onto a hard floor and watch your dog track down all the pieces. There's no guarantee he won't still swallow some of them whole, but the overall process will be somewhat slower. Save back a few pieces to hide inside a toy while he's eating.

Divide it up

If tossing kibble sounds more like a mess than fun, try dividing the meal into separate portions and placing them in different areas of the room. Another way to divide the kibble is to use a clean ice cube tray or muffin pan; having to go from one compartment to another will force your dog to take a little more time with his meal. Make sure every piece is flat, not on top of another piece.

Add an obstruction

Some bowls are specially designed to help dogs slow down at mealtime. These work by using a maze, compartments or other design to obstruct access to the kibble, which prevents the eater from downing everything in one huge gulp. A less expensive alternative is to place a large pet-friendly object such as a ball inside the bowl along with the food. As long as he doesn't remove the object, this will accomplish the same thing by giving him something to eat around instead of allowing unobstructed access.

What about canned food?

Many pets eat moist or canned food, either alone or in addition to kibble. In this case, you can still try most of the tips given above. For hand feeding, try giving small bites on a spoon or spatula. You can also stuff some of the food inside an appropriate toy. Just don't try the scatter method; it would actually be more of a splatter method!

By helping your dog slow down at mealtime, you'll be making meals safer and more enjoyable. Besides, if he gulps down his CANIDAE Pure Elements dog food, he won't be able to taste just how delicious it is!

Top photo by Brian Snelson
Bottom photo by tobyotter

Read more articles by Eliza Wynn


  1. Every once in a while we give their dinner in a puzzle toy. They aren't too happy about the non-instant gratification!

    1. Have you tried feeding them by hand? Maybe they'd appreciate the personal touch.


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