A dog quickly scarfing down a bowl of food isn’t necessarily a sign of a good appetite. Eating too fast can be a symptom of serious illnesses, or lead to digestive problems and other health issues. If your dog gobbles up their kibble faster than you can say “dinner’s ready,” it’s crucial to help them slow down. Here’s what it means when your dog is eating too fast, and how to stop this dangerous behavior. 

Why Is Your Dog Eating So Fast?

There are many reasons why a dog might scarf down their meal too quickly. For instance, they may eat too fast if they’re worried that another pet in the household will snatch it away. Dogs who were previously strays or had irregular feeding times can also have this habit due to the uncertainty of when their next meal will come. 

But fast eating can also be a sign of an underlying illness. For example, parasites like worms can cause their food to be digested too quickly, so they’re even hungrier when meal time comes around. 

Fast Eating Can Be Dangerous for Dogs

No matter what the reason behind your dog’s quick eating habit is, letting it go unchecked can have some serious health consequences. Eating too fast is a choking hazard that can be life-threatening if the dog barely takes the time to chew. Eating too fast might also make them gag or vomit frequently when eating, which can take a toll on their health. 

Another problem with eating too fast is that it puts your dog at risk of bloat. Also known as gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV), bloat is a medical emergency that occurs when a dog’s stomach expands and twists. This condition can be deadly, so if you notice any of the signs of bloat in your dog, contact your emergency veterinarian immediately.

Signs of bloat include:

  • Swollen or distended belly
  • Tender abdomen
  • Pacing
  • Panting
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive drooling
  • Inability to stand or walk
  • General distress
  • Gagging

How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Too Fast

Spread Out the Food

It’s easier for dogs to eat too quickly when their food is all in one place. But if they have to move around, they might eat more slowly. Try spreading out their wet food or kibble on a yoga mat or cookie sheet so they will take smaller bites as they walk around eating the food.

Use a Food Dispenser Toy

You can make mealtime last longer and more fun for your pup by introducing an interactive food dispenser. Some dispensers force your dog to take the time to chew and lick the food out, some dispense a little bit of food at a time during play, and others are puzzles that hide the food under sliders your dog has to move around with their snout. 

Use a Slow-Feeder Bowl

Another solution is to choose a slow-feed dog bowl that’s specifically designed to prevent eating too fast. There’s a wide range of designs to choose from, with obstacles inside the bowl that make the dog have to work a little harder to get their kibble out. 

You can also make your own slow feeder by placing a small bowl upside down inside a larger bowl. When you add the kibble, it will fall around the edges of the upside-down bowl and create an obstacle that slows down your dog’s eating. 

However, some dogs may bypass the obstacle by flipping the bowl over and sending the kibble flying. It may take some trial and error before you find the right bowl or feeding method for your dog. 

Veterinarian for Dogs in Gilbert, Arizona

If you are concerned about your dog’s eating habits, you should speak with the experienced vets at Anasazi Animal Clinic. We’ll examine your dog to check for signs of any health concerns that could be responsible and help you find the best way to feed your dog to improve their health. Call us at 480-497-0505 today to schedule an appointment. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (3/6/2023). Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash