Fast Eater? 8 Ways to Slow Down Dinnertime

Is your dog eating too fast? Do they scarf down every last bit of food in mere seconds? It may be time to slow down their dinnertime. While it may seem like a normal habit for dogs, speed eating can be life-threatening.  Luckily, we have put together a list of ways to help slow down your dog’s eating habits.

A golden retriever reaches up to grab a piece of kibble out of a human's fingers

Why Slow Down Dinnertime?

Dogs who inhale their dinner are likely to harm themselves in doing so. As pet parents, it’s our responsibility to teach our pups how to eat slower and provide them with the resources to do so. Consuming food too quickly can lead to choking, gagging, vomiting, or in severe cases a condition called Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus. Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (often called “bloat”) is a condition that occurs in dogs when a large meal is taken in too quickly. It causes the stomach to expand due to the food and gas not being released, which may lead to death. To protect your dog ensure they are pacing themselves when eating. 

Puzzle Feeder

If you’re looking to slow down eating and increase fun, puzzle feeders are the answer! Puzzle feeders, such as the Outward Hound Puppy Hide N Slide Dog Toy, hide the food and force your dog to solve the puzzle before they can eat. Puzzle feeders are extremely beneficial for slowing down your dog’s eating while encouraging them to use their brain power to solve the puzzle. 

Use a Muffin Tin and Tennis Balls

If you do not want to spend the money on a food puzzle feeder then a muffin tin is a fun, cheap alternative. Place dog food in the muffin indent then place tennis balls on top of the food. Your dog will have to move the tennis balls to reach their food. Allowing them to solve the puzzle as they eat. 

Spread the Food Out 

Another easy way to slow down your dogs’ eating is to simply spread out their food across a surface. You can do this by getting a cookie sheet and spreading out the food evenly across the pan. This will make your dog have to move around to eat while providing a challenge as it slides around the pan. 

Floating Kibble

A quick and cheap way to slow your pups’ dinnertime intake is to pour about a half-inch (or less for small breed dogs) of water or bone broth into their food bowl. Doing so will challenge your dog to be able to consume the food ensuring they are not able to eat too quickly. Putting the food in the water or bone broth before they consume it can also improve your pup’s rate of digestion. We suggest adding bone broth due to its many benefits such as improving joint health, digestion, gut health, and boosting their immune system. If you choose to use bone broth, be sure that the bone broth you choose does not include ingredients toxic to dogs and is gradually introduced into their diet. 

Hand Feeding

If you’re looking to increase your bond with your dog and slow down eating, hand-feeding is the best option for you. Hand feeding will teach your dog to eat in smaller amounts. Grab a small amount of food and allow your dog to eat it out of your hand. When hand feeding, you may take this opportunity to teach your dog obedience skills and new tricks by asking them to perform a skill and then rewarding them with a small amount of food. The only downside to this form is that it can be time-consuming to feed your dog all their food from your hand. 

Automatic Feeder

If hand-feeding does not sound like the option for you, an automatic feeder could be a useful investment. Automatic feeders limit the amount of food offered at a time. They also ensure that your dog maintains a steady mealtime schedule. Having a consistent meal time will make your dog less likely to scarf down their food since they adjust to a specific eating pattern. Many automatic feeders, such as the iPettie UFO 6 Meal Automatic Pet Feeder, are easy to clean and work with wet or dry dog food

Lick Mat

When using wet food, it can be difficult to slow down your dog’s eating. A lick mat is a great way to slow your dog down, as it allows the wet food to be spread out. The mat also helps clean your dog’s tongue, gums, and teeth. A lick mat can also be a useful tool in training. For example, when crate training, you can put the mat inside the crate with their favorite treat, which will distract them as you close the crate and give them an activity to do inside. Mats like Mighty Paw Dog Lick Pad are also extremely easy to clean as they are dishwasher safe. 

Slow Feeder Bowls

Unlike your typical food bowl that allows your dog to inhale their food, a slow feed bowl has an obstruction within the bowl that limits how much your dog can eat at a time. These bowls come in a variety of shapes and sizes and work with wet or dry dog food. Some of the other benefits of slow-feed dog bowls are that they improve cognitive ability by providing your dog a challenge, help with digestion, and prevent boredom by giving your dog an activity to do. 

Separate Pets at Mealtime

If you have multiple pets, you can try separating them at mealtimes to help slow their eating. With the other animals around, your dog may feel like they are competing to finish or don’t want the other animals to steal their food. Putting them in a separate room will help relieve this tension and allow them to take their time eating.