Does your dog gobble their food down? Do they not chew a single bite? Does it seem more like “inhaling” than eating? Well, you are not alone!
Many dogs exhibit this behavior, and it can be attributed to numerous factors, but the bottom line is, eating too fast can lead to issues, and even serious health complications.
Why Does My Dog Eat At Lightning Speed?
There are many reasons dogs may eat too fast.
Competition for food can occur within your household between multiple dogs, and even cats! Feeding dogs together can result in one or more of your dogs eating their food fast, simply because of competition.
Disease, Illness, and Parasites
Certain illnesses and diseases can lead to increased hunger and rapid paced eating. These may include diabetes, Cushing’s Disease, as well as many types of parasites. It should also be noted that many of the medications used to treat dogs, especially Prednisone or other steroids, often lead to a large increase in appetite.
Survival as a Stray
Because food equals survival for every living thing, it’s understandable how competition for food is quite common among rescue dogs, especially those that have previously been a stray. Stray dogs struggle to obtain food on their own, something domesticated dogs are not equipped to do.
So, it’s important to understand that when these dogs are rescued and adopted, they may still exhibit some of this behavior. It typically presents through resource guarding, or eating food way too fast because they never know when they're going to get their next meal. This behavior may subside over time, once the stress of just surviving is removed, and they begin to feel safe. But for some dogs, the need to eat their food at supersonic speed may never go away
Why Shouldn't I let My Dog Eat Fast?
The reasons for preventing your dog from eating their food too fast include everything from a lack of healthy digestion, to preventing dangers like choking.
The Dangers of Eating Too Fast
- Digestive Issues: Eating too fast can lead to all kinds of problems, including vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation.
- Choking: If a dog eats at a rapid pace, they are at risk for both aspirating and choking if food gets lodged in their throat. These are dangers that should be taken very seriously.
To prevent a dog from choking on their food, be sure to feed them kibble that is appropriately sized for them, and find ways to make sure they eat slowly.
How Do I Get My Dog To Slow Down When Eating?
Once you have ruled out any medical reasons for your dog’s fast-paced eating, you can then focus on helping them to slow down, and maybe even enjoy their meals!
The great news is, there are many ways to do this.
Feed your dog smaller amounts of food, broken up over multiple meals.
Get a “slow feeder” dish, or a snuffle mat to encourage your dog to hunt/forage for their food.
To extend on this idea, take a handful of kibble and throw it around the yard, or even in the house! This is an excellent way to not only slow down how fast they eat, but also engage their brains in an activity that makes eating more fun!
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If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.