Does your dog eat every meal as though it hasn’t been fed in months? It is very common for our four legged friends to literally inhale their food, without a single chew being taken and without any enjoyment of the flavours or textures.
There are ways that you can stop your dog from eating too quickly, which will be highly beneficial for their health. We have taken a look at what can cause a dog to eat fast, the issues it can bring and some tips on how to slow them down.
It can be easy to assume that our dogs are simply greedy and want to eat as much as they can in the shortest time possible. There may be an element of truth in this for some cases, but there is often an underlying reason as to why your dog may eat so quickly. Some medical conditions, such as Cushings disease, can increase the appetite greatly, caused by a problem with the hormones. If your dog is already having treatment for an illness, it could be caused by the medication that they are on. Internal parasites can also be responsible for an increased hunger and an unnatural eating pace. If you suspect any of these to be an issue for your dog, you should seek help from your vet.
Fast eating can often be down to competition with other dogs in the household, or from a home that they were previously in. Your dog may feel that it needs to wolf down its meal to prevent another from coming to steel it, or if they are all fed from the same bowl at the same time, that they need to take as much as possible before other dogs eat more than their share.
The act of eating quickly can also be down to your dogs ancestry, back when animals had to fend for themselves. If they didn’t eat quickly, they ran the risk of not eating at all, so the natural instinct has stayed within generations of dogs who find it perfectly normal to eat as much as they can in the shortest amount of time.
If your dog eats too quickly at every meal it can cause many problems and in some cases can be very dangerous. It is unlikely that your dog will be chewing each mouthful, which means they are at risk of choking, which of course could be fatal if you are unable to clear the airway. Eating abnormally fast can also cause your dog to be sick, meaning they will be hungry again almost immediately and so begins a vicious cycle.
If not chewed thoroughly, food can find it hard to travel down the digestive tract, becoming lodged and causing great discomfort. Bloating can also be caused by eating too quickly, with the act of sucking in too much air along with the food. This can be very painful and cause long-term issues if allowed to continue. It can lead to your dog suffering from terrible wind, which will be unpleasant for both them and you.
Eating without chewing can also have an unfortunate impact on the oral health of your dog. The simple act of chewing food such as kibble often helps to prevent the build-up of plaque and tartar, keeping the teeth healthy and the jaw strong. Without this, your dog can suffer from toothache and gum disease, leading to a painful mouth and some very expensive vet bills.
It is important to supervise your dog if they are repeatedly eating too quickly. Monitoring them can often give you clues as to why they are speed feeding, such as noticing that another dog is moving closer to their bowl in an attempt to steal food. It will also allow you to intervene if they are struggling to swallow properly in their frenzied state, giving you an opportunity to remove their bowl and replace it when they have calmed down. Also separate dogs who seem to distract each other or who cause competition for food. It is often best to give them space so that they can decide their own speed and have time to chew properly.
You could try to reduce the amount of food that you give your dog in a single feeding. This might allow them to start savouring it a little more and teach them not to panic that it all has to be eaten straight away.
An excellent way of preventing your dog from eating too quickly is to feed them from a slow feeder bowl. This can help to encourage better eating habits over time, forcing your dog to eat at a more natural pace, without gulping extra air. Slow feeder bowls (also known as slow release or anti-gulping bowls) are made with food safe materials and are designed with a mix of creative and interactive shapes that can make mealtimes more engaging as they slowly work their way around the edges to finish their meal.