Why does my dog eat too fast and what can I do about it? 4 options to turn your pooch into a slow feeder.
When it comes to meal-time does your Spaniel exhibit refined dining etiquette? Or is it more like Pig the Pug (who wolfs down his food so fast he accidentally swallows the bowl)? If it’s more of the latter than the former, help is at hand to turn your best friend into a slow feeder!
Some dogs just happen to be slower eaters, loving nothing more than to savour each dainty bite they take. Other dogs, (Spaniels, I’m looking at you!) just want to gorge themselves as quickly as possible. Their food is sitting in the bowl one minute and in the next it’s gone. Vanished without a trace. Eating this fast can actually cause a lot of harmful issues for our four-legged friends.
Possible problems if your dog is not a slow feeder
First and foremost, choking is a very real hazard for dogs that eat too quickly. Obviously, this could turn fatal. When a dog gets food lodged in its pharynx it will often begin to vomit as a way to clear any food debris. This will lead to a lot of discomfort for the dog as well as distress for owners.
Additionally, dogs that eat too fast run the risk of developing bloat. Bloat (also known as gastric torsion) is a serious and life-threatening condition. It occurs when the intestines expand and twist. If a dogs eats too fast it may gulp down too much air with its meal. This can cause the dog’s stomach to swell, increasing the chances of bloat.
Aside from these hazards, dogs that gulp down their meals in nanoseconds can experience digestive problems which cause them to fart and burp excessively. Charming!
Tips to turn your Spaniel into a slow feeder
Aside from spoon feeding them, what are some ways that owners can help their hounds stay healthy and avoid the problems caused by eating too quickly?
Let’s take a look at some great slow feeder options that are guaranteed to keep your dog happy and healthy during mealtimes.
Option 1 – Scatter feeding
Dogs evolved as scavengers. This means they are comfortable sniffing around for a meal. Why not replicate this by having your pet hunt for its food? Scatter feeding simply involves dispersing some dry food around the yard and letting your doggo find it. As long as it’s sufficiently motivated (hungry) and sufficiently interested in its food (yummy) you can bet your Spaniel will seek out and consume every last morsel. Alternatively, if your Spaniel is more of a home body, you can use a snuffle mat indoors (by hiding the dried food in the ruffles). Voila! Not only will this turn your Spaniel into a slow feeder, it will also work to keep it entertained and active during meal times.
Option 2 – Slow feeder bowls
Like their name suggests, slow feeder bowls are designed to stop your fast eating pet in its tracks, or at least slow it down! Available in all sorts of colours, shapes and sizes, it is important to find one that is well designed. The best sort of slow feeder bowls are essentially a maze in a bowl. This will instantly transform your dog’s eating habits as it has to chase its food around the obstacles. The good thing about slow feeder bowls is that are suitable for use with both wet and dry food.
Option 3 - Slow feeder mats
These textured mats allow owners to effectively smear their dog’s favourite food and let them enjoy licking it off. Here’s fun fact for you: licking is actually a soothing behaviour for dogs. That is what makes this slow feeder option such a great idea for Spaniels who may be somewhat on the anxious side. The other benefit of using these types of mats is they help keep your doggy occupied for longer which is important when you’re not at home (when who knows what hijinks they might get up to!).
Option 4 – Puzzles
This is a favourite of Spaniel owners everywhere. This is because puzzles not only help our fast-eating four-legged friends slow their roll, they also challenge the dog's brain and engages their problem-solving skills. Research shows that we owners can go a long way to helping our Spaniels lead more fulfilled lives by using puzzle feeders. Indeed, they alleviate the problem of our pets becoming bored by requiring the dog to expend extra physical and mental energy when feeding. The result is a dog that is more physically active, intelligent, and more emotionally fulfilled.
As can be seen, when it comes to helping your dog become a slow feeder there are some great options out there. The trick is to just try one of the four we have mentioned in this article to see if your dog likes it. We’re sure you and your pooch will be pleasantly surprised! At Wild Heart Pets we stock the best slow feeder bowls to keep your Spaniel happy, healthy and well-adjusted.