Eating food fast can have its advantages for our pets, say for example when they are hungry and just want to chow down so they can get back to playing. But many pets regularly eat their food too fast, not just when they want to get back to playing. Chowing down too rapidly could actually be a serious problem for some pets.
When the proper time to chew is not taken, the risk of choking and getting kibble lodged in their throat increases for both dogs and cats.
When food is inhaled quickly, assuming the risk of choking was averted, the kibble enters the stomach in an unbroken down form. This increases the likelihood that the stomach will reject the food, and it will end up being vomited on your floor.
Gastric Dilation Volvulus (aka GDV).
This is hands down the most serious risk to eating too fast, and really only affects dogs. GDV, better known as “bloat”, happens when a dog ingests air as they eat too rapidly, and then the stomach expands and twists causing an obstruction. This condition is life-threatening. Dogs that are at most risk for “bloat” are the large breed dogs such as Great Danes, and bigger dogs with deep chests. It is also a known fact based upon research that dogs which eat fast are 5 times more likely to “bloat” compared to dogs who do not eat fast.
So how do we slow them down? Below are some things you can try with your pup or kitty to slow down the eating time and lower the risk of issues mentioned above.
1. Start by talking to your vet.
Rule out any parasites and ensure that they are getting the nutrition they need. If your pet isn’t getting the proper nutrition, you can begin introducing wholesome raw foods for optimum nutrition. A diet using quality human-grade ingredients provides your pet with the vitamins, minerals, and quality protein they need to stay healthy. Even if you’re only mixing a portion of raw food into your pet’s meal, some raw is better than no raw.
2.Use a slow feeder bowl.
As natural predators, cats and dogs have an instinct to hunt for their food. Slow-feeder bowls are made for the purpose of forcing dogs and cats to slow down when they eat. Instead of being a regular bowl with a smooth interior surface, slow-feeders look more like a 3-D maze. By spreading out the surface area your pet eats from, it can help to slow down the ingestion time for some pets.
3.Use Puzzle Toys.
Put a ball or oy in the bowl with their food. This obstruction in the bowl will make your pet work around it and take small bites due to a constricted space. Just make sure whatever object you put in the bowl isn’t easily swallowed. These puzzle toys can be used for meal times or just during snack or treat times.
4. Feed Smaller More Frequent Meals.
Eating fast isn’t as much of an issue for the risks mentioned above when only small amounts are eaten, even if they are eaten fast. So, instead of feeding your pet big meals once or twice a day, break it up and feed them smaller meals more frequently throughout the day.
5.Use a Snuffle Mat.
A snuffle mat is a feeding mat made of fabric or synthetic strips that mimic foraging instincts, and it causes pets to work and search around for their food, ultimately slowing down their ingestion time. All that is required is for you to sprinkle their food around the mat before allowing them to start foraging for their food. Every so often, the mat can be easily cleaned by tossing it into the washer.
6. Hand Feed.
It does wonders for dogs that need to learn to eat more slowly. To do it, hold on to your dog’s food bowl and let them eat small amounts of food from your hand. Make sure they have time to chew thoroughly before offering up the next handful. Don’t offer your dog food when they’re barking, pawing at your hand, or whining. Wait until they’re sitting politely to reinforce the idea that good behavior gets them what they want.
Help your pet enjoy their meal at a healthier pace with these tips.