How to stop your dog from eating too fast
21st December, 2022
Does your dog wolf down their meal before you’ve had a chance to shout “dinner’s ready”? Help is here! Discover why they gobble so fast, what it means for their health and how you can slow things down.
Charming. Loyal. Playful. Loving. Obedient. The amazing adjectives to describe your four-legged family member could go on and on. But did you think the word ‘gobbler’ would be topping the list when you brought them home? We didn’t think so!
Yes, dogs are relatively fast eaters but some are faster than others and devour the entire bowl full in three gulps. We’re not just talking about those big hounds either!
Even the tiniest of pups can develop the gluttonous trait, leaving you wondering if they’re really satisfied after dinner time. Am I feeding them enough? Should I give them more? What about some of my leftovers?
In fact, eating this quickly could be doing your dog more harm than good – we’ll look at why below. Discover what makes them inhale their meals so fast and what you can do to help.
We’ll also share how dog insurance plans from Purely Pets can help your piggish pooch in times of trouble and provide the protection they deserve.
Why is my dog eating so fast?
We’ve all wolfed down the odd meal when we’re absolutely ravenous, but then lived to regret it when we suddenly feel bloated and the food coma sets in.
But imagine if you did that every day. You probably wouldn’t feel too great, right?
Unfortunately, our dogs don’t think that way.
So why is your dog inhaling their food in the first place? It’s not like you’re going to snatch it away halfway through!
Here are a few reasons why your pup suddenly enters Speedy Gonzalez mode at dinner time.
Dogs evolved from wolves thousands of years ago and in the wild, they never knew where their next meal was coming from.
So, with mealtime every 3 or 4 days, these opportunistic animals would gulp down as much as they could, when they could – hence the term ‘wolf down’.
We know what you’re thinking – your tiny Yorkie or lovable lab certainly doesn’t resemble a wolf in the wild and you feed them regularly every day. Well, even though canines have come a long way over the millennia, some still seem to cling onto this trait.
Got more than one four-legged pet? Chances are, your pooch is inhaling whatever’s in their bowl to prevent another pet from getting in on the action. In their mind, the best way to protect their meal is to keep it in their tummy!
The closer your dogs eat together, the more likely they are to race to the finish line once the bowl hits the floor.
If you adopted your pup from a rescue shelter, their past might be responsible for their lack of table manners. In what way?
Those with a history of malnourishment and starvation eat quickly in the same way that wolves do – they don’t know when they’ll be eating next. The same applies if their previous owners didn’t keep to a feeding schedule.
They may also have been fed low-quality dog food, which means they weren’t getting the right nutrients and compensate by eating quickly and hoping for seconds.
If you’re not sure about the best diet for your adoptee, or your dog has problems with overeating, give your vet a call. And remember, all dog insurance plans from Purely Pets come with access to our 24/7 vet video service to get help when you need it most.
Underlying health concerns
Occasionally, your dog’s need to feed might be down to an undetected illness. Diabetes, for example, can cause excessive hunger, even if they’ve just eaten. Check our guide to diabetes in pets to see whether your pup displays any other tell-tale signs.
Cushing’s disease and worms or parasites can also increase your canine’s ravenous nature, so you’ll need to get them to the vet for a check-up.
As a protective pet parent, it’s your responsibility to look out for your pup’s health. Pet insurance can help cover the costs of those emergency vet visits. Speak to the Purely Pets team about our 15 levels of dog insurance plans to find the right fit for your friend.
Is eating too fast damaging to my dog’s health?
Your pet eats quickly, so what? It’s just part of their character! Well, it might be, but it can also be harmful to their overall health.
While some effects might be short-lived, others can be very serious and even turn fatal if you don’t act fast. And that’s the last thing you want for your beloved pet!
Before we reveal all the ways you can help your pup slow down at mealtimes, let’s take a closer look at the risks all that speedy scoffing poses to their health:
- Bloating: Wolfing down a meal often means your dog ingests too much air, causing a swollen stomach and lots of discomfort. In extreme cases, it can put pressure on other organs and even cut off blood flow, proving fatal.
- Vomiting: When too much food enters your dog's tummy quickly, it might send it all back up again to avoid working too hard.
- Choking: If we eat too fast, we run the risk of choking, and the same goes for our canine companion. When they can’t cough the food particles back up, things can quickly turn life-threatening.
- Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV): This condition develops when your pup’s tum becomes twisted, which could cause a rupture and lead to death. It’s usually the result of eating too much, too quickly. Portion control is crucial here!
- Dental issues: Feeding your dog kibble (dried food) helps clean their teeth – but that doesn’t mean you need to stop brushing! When your pooch inhales rather than chews their meals, tartar and plaque accumulate, leading to further dental issues.
However healthy and active your dog is, you can never tell when an emergency is just around the corner. Our dog insurance plans mean you won’t have to delay treatment if the worst happens.
4 ways to slow down your dog’s eating habits
Your pooch can’t resist gobbling at each meal, and you’re well aware of the risks. So what can you do to help?
Dogs might be intelligent animals, but when food’s involved, everything else takes a back seat!
Don’t worry, though. We’ve got your back and have some super clever ways to slow down your pets speed eating, whether you own a chowing chihuahua or gluttonous golden retriever.
1. Feed dogs separately
Multi-dog households, this one’s for you! To prevent that competitive streak taking over in your playful pups, try feeding them in different parts of your home.
This could just mean that you stand in the middle while they each head to separate ends of the kitchen. If they still can’t ignore the other and continue to scoff the lot in seconds, you might need to resort to different rooms altogether.
2. Invest in fun feeding toys
If you’ve ever had a fussy toddler, you’ll know that making mealtimes fun can make an enormous difference, so why not try it with your pooch?
Puzzle feeders, like this Kong Wobbler, keep your dog stimulated and drastically slows down the rate at which they plough through meals.
Why not invest in a slow-feeding bowl? However fast your pet wants to chow down on their dinner, they won’t be able to with a dish like this one from Decyam.
Not got the cash to splash right now? No problem! Create a make-shift slow-feeder by turning a muffin pan upside down. Your dog will be forced to eat slower as they pick up the bits between the gaps with their tongue.
3. Switch up their schedule
Feeding your pooch one large meal in the day could be the problem. Instead of giving it all at once, spread out the portion into smaller meals two or three times a day.
This is also great for dealing with bloat!
4. Consider hand feeding
Not every pet parent has the time to sit and hand feed their pup (we wish!) but if you do, it might help. Dogs love licking their dinner off your hand, and it’s a great way to build your bond, too.
Why not combine training with mealtimes? Use their regular food as an obedience reward and stop your dog from inhaling too much during dinner. It’s a win-win!
Need some more training tips to keep your lively lab in check? Clinical Animal Behaviourist Rosie Bescoby shares some excellent advice for pet parents everywhere.
What if my dog eats too slowly?
You’ll be glad to know that eating slowly isn’t usually a sign that anything is wrong, especially if it’s something your pet has always done or that’s happened naturally as they age.
The older they get, the more likely they are to develop health concerns, so taking them to the vet for a check is always worth it to spot problems early on.
Is slow eating ever a problem? A newly found tendency to pick at their food and not finish it all might point to a potential problem, including:
- Oral/dental pain
- Nausea and sickness
- Digestive issues
- Parasitic infection
If your pooch once chowed down without pausing for breath but now stands over its bowl for what seems like hours, it’s time to get them checked out.
How much food should my dog eat?
Those puppy dog eyes looking up at you while you dig into your Sunday roast can often sway you into ‘accidentally’ dropping a few bits of chicken on the floor – oops, we’ve all done it – but it’s usually not a good idea.
Lots of human foods are bad for your dog (more on that in a minute), and eating more than they should can quickly see your once athletic-looking pup tip the scales.
Obesity can lead to a world of health issues and see you claiming on your pet insurance, too, so how can you make sure your canine companion gets just the right amount of grub?
Firstly, the packet of food you buy for your dog should come with some guidelines. These aren’t strict rules by any means, but you can start by filling their bowl with the right amount depending on their target weight – not their current weight if they are over or under the average.
Weighing out their meals is the best way to tell they are eating exactly what they should, as long as they aren’t getting secret snacks from other family members!
Of course, a working sheepdog and a lapdog who spends most of the day indoors are going to have completely different dietary needs, so give your vet a call.
They’ll be able to work with you to tailor a feeding plan that suits your specific pup and check their body condition score to make sure they’re in the right weight range.
Foods that are harmful to dogs
As dog lovers, we know just how much you enjoy giving them a treat, but hold fire!
There are a lot of foods that we love to eat that can do a lot of damage to your pup, and even prove fatal in some cases.
Steer clear of feeding your dog the following foods to keep them fighting fit:
- Alcohol and caffeine
- Blue cheese
- Citrus fruits
- Grapes (this includes dried varieties like raisins)
- Raw eggs and meat
It’s not just the wrong type of food you need to watch out for. Our article on dangerous foods and substances for your dog highlights a whole host of other nasties to be aware of.
If you think your pet has swallowed something toxic and needs help fast, call the Animal Poison Line on 01202 509 000, followed by your vet.
Not got insurance for your pooch yet? What are you waiting for? Get a quick quote for our dog insurance plans today – it only takes a few minutes.
Can my dog eat leftovers?
Still can’t resist sharing your meal with your four-legged friend? Animal Trust says there are a few human foods that are OK in small quantities:
- Some fruits (banana, apple, peach, melon, blueberries, and mango) – just be sure to remove seeds and core
- Vegetables (carrots, squash, sweetcorn, broccoli, celery, cucumber, and green beans)
- Cooked eggs
- Brown rice and pasta
- Cooked, unseasoned meats
Keep these foods for special treats and avoid giving them to your pup every day or their waistline may soon disappear!
Can an old dog eat puppy food?
Got a new puppy to keep your golden oldie company? However convenient it might seem to feed them the same diet, think again.
Remember how you used to be able to eat whatever you wanted without it affecting your waistline? You had bundles of energy as a youngster and burnt it all off, and the same goes for your pooch.
Young puppies need a calorie-dense diet with plenty of fat to help them grow quickly and to fuel all that playtime.
Seniors, however, have done their growing and too many calories or too much fat content could see them growing sideways instead, and that’s hard to bounce back from!
Overweight dogs struggle with other health concerns whatever their age, but obesity can really take its toll on old joints and muscles. To avoid trimming years off their lifespan, get your pet to the vet for weight loss tips.
Finding comprehensive pet cover can sometimes be tough for senior hounds, but not with Purely Pets. All our dog insurance plans are available to canines from 8 weeks old – we have no upper age limit!
Quick tips to keep your dog healthy
You’ve got a handle on your dog’s poor eating habits and you’ve put them on a balanced diet! That’s what we call good pet parenting.
Now you just need to make sure they’re getting enough exercise and they’re covered by one of our dog insurance plans in case of an emergency.
Here are 7 things every responsible pet parent should keep in mind for a fit and healthy pup:
- Avoid putting on weight to keep obesity related illnesses at bay.
- Feed a well-balanced and nutritious diet based on your dog’s age and size.
- Exercise your pet every day. Not sure how much your breed needs? Our tips for exercising your pup will help.
- Shop around to find the right dog insurance plans for you and your budget.
- Take your dog for a check-up with the vet regularly to spot medical issues early on.
- Stay up-to-date with vaccinations to protect your pup against deadly diseases, like parvo, distemper, and rabies.
- Keep fleas and ticks in check with regular treatments. If you don’t, these pests can transfer to you, too!
Routine treatments like vaccinations and parasite meds aren’t included on dog insurance plans. That’s why smart pet parents arrange a pet health plan directly with their vet, so they can spread the costs over the year.
Dish up a good deal on dog insurance
Pet insurance is the best way to protect your pup when they need it most. But why choose Purely Pets?
- We love animals as much as you do!
- All our dog insurance plans can be managed online
- You get access to 24/7 vet video consultations
- No upper age limit for joining
Your pet deserves the best, right? Check out our award-winning dog insurance plans today!
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