Like humans, some dogs eat slowly, carefully taking one piece at a time. Other dogs practically inhale their food, as if it were their last meal. It does not matter the breed, size, or age of the dog, some of them eat so quickly that it can cause problems with their own health.
When you choose to own a service dog or an emotional support dog, it is vital that you take care of them as they take care of you. Even dogs that are as well-trained as a service dog can eat too fast. What can you do to slow down a dog that eats too fast and why does it matter?
Some schools of thought place much of the blame on a dog's hereditary primal instincts. These instincts inform your dog that the first to eat and the quickest to eat has the best chance for survival.
There can be medical reasons that your dog is eating his food too fast, as well. It's always smart to check with your veterinarian to rule out potential health causes for eating too fast.
Behavioral problems can also cause your service dog to eat his food too fast. As a puppy, he may have had to compete for food, and this can become a learned behavior. If you have more than one pet, your dog may feel he needs to compete among them for food. Being fed inconsistently can cause them to eat too fast when they are fed.
It could be caused by having to wait too long between meals or their food being nutritionally deficient. Or there may be no reason at all.
The short answer is yes. Eating too quickly can cause him to gag and choke. If food becomes lodged in his throat, it could cause him to asphyxiate.
It can cause intestinal problems, including gas, vomiting and diarrhea. Also, like people, service dogs and emotional support dogs that eat too quickly tend to overeat as well, making it more difficult to manage their weight.
Additionally, eating too quickly can cause a life-threatening condition called gastric dilatation-volvulus, commonly known as GDV or bloat. This condition causes a dog's stomach to expand and intestines to twist. This happens because when a dog eats large amounts of food quickly, they will also gulp down large amounts of air. The resulting expansion of the stomach will cause the dog to vomit foam, rather than partially digested food. This is extremely dangerous for a dog as they can immediately go into shock.
When your dog eats too fast, at best it can cause him discomfort, but at worst, it can be life-threatening. A dog that eats too fast needs to be slowed down.
If you have ruled out any medical issues that could be causing him to eat too fast, then there are several options to help slow your dog down. From specialized food bowls to evaluating his health needs, there is sure to be a way to help slow down your dog from eating too fast.
Timed feeders, Slow-feed dog bowls, food puzzles, cookie sheets, muffin tins, create-your-own bowls are all capable of slowing your dog down while he is eating. - Timed feeders dole out a specific amount of food every so often, keeping your service dog from eating too much too quickly. - Slow-feed dog bowls are designed so that your dog cannot fit his entire snout in the dog bowl, making him have to take smaller bites. - Food puzzles slow down your dog by making him have to figure out the puzzle to get his food out of the bowl, usually by pushing it through or out of various nooks and crannies. - You can even create your own food bowls by taking two different sized bowls and placing the smaller one upside down inside the larger one. Or try putting his food on a cookie sheet or spread out through muffin tins.
All these options can slow your dog down when he eats too fast.
Possibly the most fun way to alter your dog's eating speed would be interactive feeding. In this way, you can train your dog to eat slower and spend some good bonding time with them as well. - Hand feeding will ensure your dog eats at a more regular pace and teach patience at the same time. - If you are already training your dog, you can combine both issues here and enforce training and rewards while making sure your dog eats healthily. - By making it a game and sharing positive reinforcements with your dog, you will give them that "good boy" feeling that you always want them to have. And at the end, both of you will have a great time!
Sometimes there may not be a medical problem causing your dog to eat too fast, but possibly some small changes in his diet or routine may be the answer. - Consider the food he is eating. Is it nutritious? Nutritional deficiency can cause emotional support dogs to eat too fast or overeat as their bodies are telling them they are lacking something. - Perhaps your dog is getting too hungry between meals. Try feeding him smaller meals, but more frequently. - Keep to a schedule. If your dog is worried about when his next meal might be coming, it could cause him to scarf his meal. - If you have other dogs, the one that is eating too fast may feel that he has to compete with his housemates for food.
Clearly, there are many reasons why your service dog or emotional support dog might be eating too fast. Thankfully, there are many options to help your dog learn not to eat so fast. While some dogs may experience only discomfort from eating too fast, it is important to remember that it can cause life-threatening problems as well. Be sure to try out one or more of the ways to slow down your service dog or emotional support dog that eats too fast.