Sometimes dogs eat too fast for their own good. If your dog is eating too fast for his own good, it may cause him to be sick.
Eating too fast leads to digestive problems, vomiting, and bloat. All these things can be really uncomfortable for your dog.
Below are five reasons why your dog could be eating so fast, followed by eight tips to help encourage him to eat more slowly.
5 Reasons Why Your Dog is Eating So Fast
There are many reasons why your pup may be eating so fast. The following are five of the main reasons your dog is eating too fast.
1. There’s competition
When two or more dogs eat in the same space, they may feel like they have to eat faster than the other dogs to make sure they get enough food.
Even if your dog isn’t sharing space with any other dogs now, competition between his litter mates as a puppy may drive him to faster eating as an adult.
Your dog may view people and other pets as competition, even if no one else is eating his food.
If your dog seems to eat faster when members of your household are near, he may be eating quickly because of his sense that they’re competition.
2. His mealtimes aren’t regular
If your dog is adopted from a shelter, it’s possible his former home didn’t provide him with regular meals. The same is true for dogs who are former strays since they had to find food in the wild.
It’s important to give your dog food at consistent times so he doesn’t have as much of a sense of urgency when food is placed in front of him.
If you haven’t consistently fed your dog at the same time each day, make changes to your schedule to ensure that you’re feeding him at the same time every day.
When your dog knows that he’ll get meals at the same time each day he won’t feel the need to scarf it down so quickly.
3. He isn’t getting proper nutrition
Your dog may eat too fast if his food isn’t providing him with the nutrition he needs. Some dog foods aren’t well-balanced.
So it’s important to buy quality dog food that’s recognized for its full and complete nutrition. If you aren’t sure which foods qualify, ask your dog’s veterinarian for recommendations.
4. There’s an underlying medical condition
Sometimes fast eating is a sign of a medical condition. Both Diabetes and Cushing’s syndrome can increase your dog’s appetite, making him feel excessively hungry. Worms and parasites can also cause your dog to feel hungrier than usual.
If your dog’s fast eating is a new behavior, make sure to get him checked out by a veterinarian. Your dog’s veterinarian should be able to rule out any medical conditions that can cause your dog’s excess hunger.
5. He really likes his food
Some dogs eat fast just because they love their food. Just like eating speeds can vary between different people, your dog’s eating speed may differ from other dogs. If your dog has a strong food drive, he may eat significantly faster than other dogs.
You may also be interested in: Why Is My Dog Not Eating His Food Anymore?
8 Tips to Make Your Dog Eat More Slowly
If your dog is eating far too fast and you’ve ruled out any underlying medical conditions, it’s time to try some strategies to help your dog slow down at mealtimes.
The following are eight tips to help you get your dog to eat slower.
1. Feed smaller meals throughout the day
Your dog may do better with several small meals throughout the day instead of one big meal.
If you decide to break up your dog’s meals throughout the day, it’s important to make sure you’re able to consistently feed your dog at these meal times. Otherwise, you run the risk of making his fast eating problem worse.
Your dog may eat smaller meals just as quickly as large ones. However, the smaller volume of food may decrease the risk of bloat.
2. Use a special slow feeder bowl
Slow feeder bowls are bowls that have groves and shapes in them. These obstacles force your dog to eat more slowly since they have to work around the shapes in the bowl.
While you can buy a special slow feeder bowl, you can also make your own at home by turning a smaller bowl upside-down and setting it in your dog’s dish. Pour your dog’s food around the smaller bowl, which creates an obstacle for your dog.
Alternatively, you can place a muffin tin upside-down and pour the food between the muffin molds. This gives them obstacles to work around, effectively slowing them down while they eat.
3. Try using a food-dispensing toy
Food-dispensing dog toys release a couple of pieces of kibble at a time. These are great for slowing your dog down and keeping him entertained.
Best of all, this method will give them some of the physical and mental stimulation that’s important for them to have.
Kong toys are a classic feeder toy for a reason. You can fill them with a number of different treats or your dog’s regular food. Your dog will love chewing on the toy to release the pieces of food within.
The Kibble Nibble and other treat balls dispense small amounts of food each time they’re knocked around. These are all good options if you’re looking for ways to slow your dog down during meals.
4. Pour your dog’s food on a smooth, clean surface
One of the simplest ways to slow your dog’s eating is by spreading their food across a smooth surface. Since your dog will have to physically move his mouth to gather up all the pieces of kibble, it will slow down his eating.
If you’re serving your dog his meals outside, make sure you aren’t putting his food in the grass. Not only will this make it nearly impossible for your dog to eat, but it may also attract pests.
Find a smooth, hard surface to spread out your dog’s meal. If your dog is still inhaling his food, try increasing the space between pieces of food. This will force them to move more between bites.
5. Serve his meals on a snuffle mat
Snuffle mats have strips of fabric that allow you to hide pieces of food within the fabric’s folds.
When your dog’s food is spread out in the snuffle mat, it encourages him to use his sense of smell and foraging instincts to find his food. This is a fun and effective method if you want your dog to slow down at mealtimes.
You can buy prefabricated snuffle mats or purchase the materials to make them yourself. There are many great DIY guides on the internet for making your own snuffle mat.
6. Try hand-feeding your dog
Hand-feeding is a good method if you want greater control over your dog’s eating speed. As an added bonus, it’s a great opportunity to sit and bond with your dog. Simply offer a couple of pieces of food at a time until your dog has completed his meal.
Alternatively, you can drop a little bit of your dog’s food into his bowl at a time. Once he finishes it, add a little more. Repeat the process until he’s finished eating.
7. Separate your dogs during meals
If you have multiple dogs eating in the same place, they may eat faster out of competition with each other. To counteract this, separate them during mealtimes. Feed your dogs in different rooms to allow them to focus on their food alone.
Sometimes you can’t feed your dogs in separate rooms. However, you can place their food in opposite corners of the room. This will help them eat their own food with fewer distractions.
If one dog has a tendency to scarf down his food and move onto his friend’s bowl, try removing your dogs from the room once they’ve finished eating.
8. Add water to your dog’s food
You can add water to your dog’s food to force them to drink water to get to their food. It often takes longer for your dog to get through the water before reaching their food.
This works best when you feed your dog wet food, although adding water to your dog’s dry food can also work.
If your dog has problems with bloat, this may not be an ideal method (since it adds volume to your dog’s food). However, it can be a decent solution if your dog also struggles to drink enough water throughout the day.
If your dog is eating meals too fast, it may cause a number of health problems. Digestive issues like bloat are caused by eating food too quickly.
Once you’ve ruled out any medical conditions, you can start making changes to your dog’s routines to encourage him to eat his food slower.
If you continue to struggle with a dog who eats too fast, consult your dog’s veterinarian. Your dog’s vet may be able to provide some additional suggestions to help combat your pup’s fast eating habits.