Some puppies eat faster than others, but if your pup is scarfing down her food way too fast, make sure to take steps to slow her down. Eating too fast can cause serious problems for your pup, so consider getting a different food bowl or a food puzzle to slow down dog eating. How do you know if your puppy eats too fast? There is no hard and fast answer, but if your large dog is inhaling food in under a minute or your small pup finishes a meal in less than 30 to 45 seconds, your dog is likely eating too fast.
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Risks of eating too fast
Eating too fast may not seem like much of a problem at first. Dogs who eat too fast may have abdominal discomfort and may vomit up the food they just consumed. If your dog is inhaling food, choking is a real possibility and can be life-threatening.
Another major concern is that eating too fast is a major risk factor for bloat. Bloat, or gastric dilatation-volvulus, causes a distended stomach and may cause twisting of the intestines. Symptoms may include a swollen stomach, looking at the abdomen, restlessness, and drooling. Dogs can quickly go into shock. Bloat is life-threatening and needs immediate veterinary attention.
Any breed may develop the behavior of eating too fast, but some breeds are more prone to bloat than others. Breeds that are at a higher risk of bloat include Dobermans, Great Danes, German shepherds, greyhounds, boxers, and Labs.
Change food bowls
If your puppy eats too fast, switch out his food bowl for a slow-feed dish. The bowls have a raised portion in the center with a moat around it where you pour the dog food. Make sure the dish is large enough that your pup can get his nose to the bottom of the dish but not so large that he can take huge, gulping bites. If the dish is too small, your pup may get frustrated and try to simply dump the food.
You can find these bowls in many pet stores or order one online. If you don't want to purchase a dish, you can make your own. Place a smaller dog bowl upside down in the center of a large dog bowl. Another option is to feed your dog from a muffin tin with a small amount of food in each cup. Spreading out the food on a tray or cookie sheet may also help to slow your dog's eating.
Slow down dog eating
If the slow-feeder bowl isn't working, there are some other options to consider. You can hand-feed your puppy to control how fast she eats. This makes for an excellent opportunity to do some training and bond with your new puppy. As always, make sure the experience is pleasant and use only positive reinforcement when working with your pup.
You can also check your local pet store for food puzzles. There are several options available. Some may be flat with grooves where you can place the food. Others may be containers that release food slowly through holes in the side as your dog plays with them. Both options require your dog to think about how to get the food rather than simply inhaling her puppy chow.