5 ways to stop your dog eating too fast

Spaniels love their food! They can inhale their meal in a few quick bites. But eating too fast isn’t good for them. It may even cause medical problems for your pup.

The good news is there are simple ways to slow down their eating and avoid potential problems. Even better, those other options are much more fun for your dog than a plain old dog dish at mealtime.

Why eating too fast is a problem for dogs

So many dogs seem to gulp down their food. Why bother trying to slow down their eating? Good question.

Many dogs go through life speed-eating without any problems. But that could change and then you may be facing a medical emergency.

Eating quickly means your dog doesn’t chew or even taste their food. But the bigger issue is that not chewing properly can cause choking, gagging or vomiting, all of which could become life-threatening for your dog.

Worse still, scarfing down food can cause a serious condition called canine bloat (also known as gastric dilation or GDV).

Canine bloat is a medical emergency. If not treated, dogs can die within hours of onset.

When a dog eats quickly, they gulp more air with each bite. As gasses build up, the dog’s stomach (and intestines) expands, which can cause these organs to twist and bloat, preventing the gasses from leaving the abdomen and cutting off circulation to vital organs.

If you see your dog dry retching 1-3 hours after a meal, if they’re restless and their abdomen seems swollen and firm, they may have canine bloat. Act quickly and rush them to your vet.

Any dog can get canine bloat. But it is more common in large and giant, deep-chested dog breeds, like Labradors, Boxers, Great Danes and but it can apply to other breeds too, like Spaniels.

Figure out why your dog gulps down food

The first thing to do is look for any obvious reasons why your dog may be eating too fast.

  • Are they competing for food with other dogs in the house? If so, try feeding the dogs in different rooms.
  • Are they fed once daily and really hungry? Try feeding them smaller meals two (or even three) times a day.

If none of these simple fixes slow down your dog’s eating, then consider a vet visit to rule out any medical conditions that can make dogs constantly hungry.

5 ways to slow down your dog’s eating

If your dog’s speed-eating turns out to be their own special doggie quirk, here are five ways you can try to slow down their eating speed. These options have the added benefit of providing mental stimulation, entertainment and enjoyment for your pup. Remember to supervise your dog when using these alternative feeding options.

  1. Scatter feeding. This is simple and doesn’t cost a cent. Scatter your pup’s favourite dried food on the floor or on the lawn. Searching for food will occupy them for ages. They’ll never be quite sure they’ve got it all, so this keeps them guessing and going back to check from time to time.

  2. Slow feeding bowls. There’s a variety of different shapes inside these bowls, a bit like a maze. Your dog has to navigate those obstacles to get to the food.

    A word of warning: some dogs work out quickly how to tip these over, in which case, try a different technique on this kind of slow feeder, which is more stable because of its shape and size. Short-snouted Spaniels, like Cavalier King Charles, may have difficulty with some of these bowls, so perhaps try the other options for them first. 
    1. Snuffle mats. These are ruffled fabric mats of different shapes, colours and sizes. Hide the kibble in between the ruffles and let your dog go snuffling for food. Simple and fun.
    2. Lick mats. This is a textured flat mat where you can spread wet food or other treats, like peanut butter (dog safe, of course). Your pup can spend mealtime licking the food off the mat rather than gulping it down.
      Licking releases both calming hormones (to soothe your pup) and saliva (which helps with mouth hygiene). Win-win.

      Cocker Spaniel licking a Lickimat

    3. Puzzle toys. These toys are not just great for slow feeding but also brilliant for mental stimulation and problem solving. Your dog has to move the puzzle pieces to get to the food.
      The puzzles are available in different difficulty levels to keep challenging your dog as they get used to the game.

    If you start using a couple of these options, maintaining the variety of different feeding methods will keep your dog stimulated and entertained and will make scoffing down their food a thing of the past. Their mealtimes will be so much more interesting and fun for them than eating out of a plain dog bowl.


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