While some dogs leisurely eat their meals, others tend to wolf down their food. Rapid eating can result in gastrointestinal upset, obesity and even a potentially fatal condition called gastric dilation and volvulus syndrome, warns VeterinaryPartner.com. To discourage Fido from polishing off his meals in a matter of seconds, there are a number of devices available that help to slow how fast he eats his food.
There are several dog bowls on the market to help slow your dog's eating, recommends Vetstreet. These dishes typically have a large raised portion in the middle, which creates a narrow groove around the center that the pup must eat his kibble from. Some versions have several smaller raised parts throughout the bowl. These raised parts create obstructions for Fido so that he can't simply shovel a large amount of kibble into his mouth. Instead, he must nibble at his food as he works his way around the bowl's obstructions. These low-tech bowls are typically inexpensive, around $4 to $10, and come in a variety of materials including plastic, ceramic and stainless steel.
Electronic feeders are a high-tech solution used to slow Fido's eating throughout the day. These devices run on either batteries or AC power with an adapter. Some electronic feeder bowls are divided into sections. These sections are hidden from your dog with a special cover that rotates to reveal a different section at various times throughout the day. This way, he can only eat as much food as you put in each section at a time. There are also electronic feeders, which resemble gravity feeders but only serve your dog a small portion of food at specified times throughout the day to prevent him from gulping down a large portion at once.
There are several types of puzzle toys available that allow you to hide your pup's kibble inside. Your dog must then chew on or roll the toy around to release the kibble so he can eat it. This forces him to slow down and eat the food over a 20- to 30-minute period. Puzzle toys filled with kibble provide Fido with both mental and physical stimulation as well, helping with problems such as separation anxiety and boredom, recommends the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In addition to dry kibble, you can stuff some types of puzzle toys with canned food that is dispensed slowly when Fido gnaws on the toys.
Electronic pet feeders are the most expensive slow feeding option for pups, costing around $40 to more than $100, depending on how complex they are. A more simple way to slow down your pup's eating is to spread it out around a shallow cookie sheet, making him "forage" for his meal. Another option is to place a large heavy stone or metal ball, too big for Fido to swallow, in the middle of your pup's existing dish. This will force him to eat around the obstruction. If your pup is experiencing issues such as vomiting or tummy upset after eating more slowly, bring him to the vet for a checkup.
By Susan Paretts
Purdue University Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory: Acute Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus in Dogs
VeterinaryPartner.com: Bloat -- The Mother of All Emergencies
Vetstreet: My Dog Inhales Her Food! How Can I Get Her to Slow Down?
Petsmart: Slow Down Your Dog's Eating
Pets Adviser: Why Do Dogs Eat So Fast? (And How to Slow Them Down)
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Separation Anxiety
Omega Paw: Stainless Portion Pacer
About the Author
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, crafts, television, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared in "The Southern California Anthology" and on Epinions. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.