Why some dogs eat too fast?

May 13, 2021

Some dogs are slow eaters, taking their time to chew every little piece and enjoy each bite. Others seem to swallow their food whole without even bothering to consider what it is they’re eating. They eat so fast you can barely blink an eye before the entire meal is gone.

These dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and breeds. Unfortunately, eating so quickly can be quite dangerous for our dogs.

While it's possible that your pooch just really likes their food, here are a few more likely reasons why your dog eats fast:

1) Competition: If you have more than one dog, your fast eater may feel they have to eat quickly to keep other dogs from snatching food from them, says PetSafe. Or, they may have had to compete for food as a puppy with their litter mates. This sense of competition could also be instinctual. So, even if your pup is an only dog, they may view other members of the household, including cats and people, as competition.

2) Irregular meal timing: If you adopted your dog from the shelter it's possible that their previous owners did not follow proper feeding etiquette or keep to a regular feeding schedule, so your dog eats as if they aren't sure when they'll get their next meal. This can also be true of dogs who were formerly strays and had to find food in the wild. After time, care and lots of love, your dog may start to slow down, realizing that their next meal isn't too far away.

3) Poor nutrition: The quality of your dog's food might be to blame. Some foods aren't well-balanced. Check with your veterinarian to ensure your dog is getting the proper nutrients, and get a recommendation for a high-quality food.

4) Underlying illness: It's possible that an underlying health condition is causing your dog to feel excessively hungry. Diabetes and Cushing's syndrome can impact your dog's metabolism and increase their appetite, says Puppytip. Worms or other parasites could also be the culprit.

The dangers of dogs eating too fast

First, they can choke, which is obviously life threatening. Gagging on their food will often result in vomiting and discomfort, as well.

Second, eating quickly increases the risk of a serious medical condition called bloat. Bloat (formally known as gastric dilatation-volvulus or “GDV” - explains the American College of Veterinary Surgeons) occurs when the stomach (or intestines) expands and may twist within the abdomen. This is immediately life threatening, and dogs will go into shock very quickly. When a dog eats too fast, he gulps down an excessive amount of air along with his food, causing the expansion and, therefore, increasing the chances of bloat.

There is also a condition called “food bloat” which is not a true GDV. It is just huge amounts of food that have been ingested sitting in the stomach. This condition does not cause shock. However, if there is even a remote chance a dog appears bloated, it should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. (Hint: a dog with true GDV will retch and vomit mostly foam, rarely food.)

If the reason for your dog's fast eating isn't clear, it's a good idea to have them checked out by a vet — especially if it's a new behavior.

While the reason behind your dog's fast eating may not be serious, if left unchecked, your pup's eating habits could lead to a medical issue. Next time you see your dog inhale their food, remember that what seems like just quirky behavior could have a serious impact on their health.

How to slow down speed-eating dogs?

If it turns out that your dog has an underlying illness, treating the condition will hopefully return their appetite to normal and slow down their eating. If low-quality food is the issue, then switching to one of better quality should solve the problem. Feeding competitive eaters separately from other pets in a place where they feel safe to eat more slowly might take care of that particular problem. But if none of those solutions slow your fast eater, here are a few tricks you can try:

1) Increase feedings: Serving your pup smaller meals two or three times a day instead of giving them all of their food at once may help. Having smaller meals also decreases their risk for bloat, says Dogster.

2) Use a slow feeder bowl: Slow feeder bowls have built-in obstacles specifically designed to cause dogs to eat more slowly. HUNTER has a great slow feeder as well - it is called ATLANTA. With its melamine body and shaped  inner surface it makes a great help for all dogs that eat more like vacuums. 

3) Make meal time fun: Serve your pooch's food inside a food-dispensing dog toy that only releases a few pieces of kibble at a time. Your dog will be happy to win that little war with the toy ;)

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