A lot of pet parents are concerned about the fact that their dogs eat too fast. The animals don’t bother to taste the food put in front of them, and seem focused only on how quickly they can finish it.
Partly responsible for this behavior is the history of their social carnivore ancestors having to compete with others in the pack to get a portion of the prey. The animals that ate faster were more likely to survive, thrive and pass along their genes. And many dogs still do it, even if there are no other animals in the house who might grab a share of their food.
Gulping food so quickly is not a healthy habit for several reasons. For one, dogs are more susceptible to digestive problems and vomiting if food is consumed too fast. Second, a lot of air enters their system as they eat and this in turn can cause GDV (gastric dilatation volvulus) or `bloating’. When gas builds up in the stomach, it can distend and even twist the stomach, and large, deep-chested dogs and older ones over the age of seven run the highest risk of this.
So how can dog parents control this behavior?
Complicating the food bowl is the easiest way. There are a variety of portion pacing pet bowls in the market these days that have grooves, pegs or partitions to make the food less accessible.
But a cheap and equally effective hack is to place a ball inside the food bowl. The presence of a ball slows down the eating as dogs have to manoeuvre around it to get to the food. As a result, they are forced to eat smaller mouthfuls at a much reduced pace because the ball is always getting in the way. Items other than a ball can be used as well to make fast-eating dogs to work harder for their food – such as a smooth piece of rock or a smaller bowl placed upside down inside the feeding bowl. Just make sure that the object is dog-safe and doesn’t have sharp edges that can hurt your pet in the mouth.