Eating too fast can harm your dog in many ways: it can wreak havoc with his digestion, cause bloat (a life-threatening condition in which a distended stomach puts pressure on surrounding organs) or cause him to vomit. Plus, the faster a dog eats, the less he chews, which can cause choking.
If your dog gobbles his food like it’s going out of style, don’t fret! Here are some fast fixes to slow down your speedy dog.
1. Toss the kibble onto a mat or rug. Because the food is spread out every which way, your dog will have to stop, hunt and peck for it, which will slow down his eating considerably. If you’re feeling crazy, you can even just nix the rug and throw the kibble straight onto your floor.
2. Toss the kibble on the lawn or around the yard. This is the outdoor version of the tip above. Your dog might enjoy looking for his food in the warm sunshine!
3. Use a puzzle feeder and/or treat-stuffed toy. There are many brands and varieties of toys made specifically to slow your fast eater. Puzzle feeders are great because they also serve to give your dog a little mental workout, and treat-stuffed toys really make your dog work to reach every tasty morsel.
4. Try a treat dispenser. As your dog plays with the treat dispenser toy, it will release kibble one at a time. This is a great way to feed your fast eater, give him a little workout and keep him occupied!
5. Stick the dry food to wet food. Smear a cookie sheet with wet food, then sprinkle it with kibble. The wet food acts as a type of glue, which slows your dog from gobbling up the kibble too quickly.
6. Feed while training. Tune up your dog’s obedience skills by making mealtime a time to train, too. Make your dog sit, lie down or perform some other skill before rewarding him with each bite.
7. Hide the food. Most dogs enjoy a good game of hide-and-seek. Hide the kibble in different places around the house or yard, and make your dog use his sniffer to find them.
8. Use a slow-feeder bowl. These heavy-duty bowls have a dome in the center, which pushes the food out to the sides so your dog can’t take huge gulps. Some slow-feeder bowls are shaped like little mazes, which make a game out of eating.
9. Turn the bowl upside down. Take your dog’s dish, flip it upside down and spread the food out. Your dog will have to move his head around in order to eat the food out of the crease in the bowl, which slows down the process.
10. Opt for a “slippery” bowl. Feed your dog from a bowl that doesn’t have a non-slide grip on the bottom. It’ll make your dog “chase” his food because the bowl will move around as he eats.
11. Divide and conquer. Place your dog’s food into a muffin tin. He’ll have to raise his head to eat from each individual cup, thus forcing him to take a little break between bites.
12. Place the kibble on the stairs. If you have access to stairs, put a few pieces of kibble on each step. Your dog will have to walk from step to step to eat — kind of like an interactive food game.
13. Introduce a challenge. Place a large ball or rock in the center of your dog’s bowl and pour the food around it. Make sure the ball or rock is big enough that your dog can’t swallow it. (Do not use small stones!) Alternatively, you can use a stainless steel or porcelain portion pacer, which is specifically designed to slow a fast-eating dog.
14. Feed smaller meals more often. Instead of feeding your dog one or two big meals per day, divide the meals into several small meals and feed him at intervals during the day. This will keep his tummy full throughout the day and prevent him from gorging because he’s starving.
15. Hand-feed meals. Feeding your dog each bite of his meal is very time intensive, but it can work when all else fails to curb a quick eater. This option helps to ensure that your dog is eating slowly because you control the pace.