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Why Does My Dog Eat So Fast? 4 Possible Reasons & Ways to Slow Them

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

West Highland White Terrier dog at home eating_alejandro rodriguez_shutterstock

As pet owners, it can be quite frustrating to watch your dog devour their food in minutes. In the blink of an eye and you wonder if they even took the time to chew it. You may fear that your furry friend can easily choke, gag and vomit, or become seriously ill if they do not learn to slow down.

So, it is not only important to know why they eat so fast, but also how to get them to slow down.

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The 4 Reasons Why Dogs Eat Fast

1. Competition

If you have multiple dogs, the fast eater may be fearful of the other dog taking its food. In some cases, it could stem from puppyhood when the dog may have had to compete with its siblings for food. Fast eating may also be instinctual. The dog may view all members of the family like children or cats as competition so they will gobble up their food to prevent anyone from taking it from them.

labrador retriever dogs eating raw foods
Image Credit: manushot, Shutterstock

2. Poor Nutrition

If your dog is not being fed a nutritious and well-balanced diet, it may be the reason for gobbling their food. Discuss the behavior with your veterinarian and ask them to recommend high-quality food for your dog.


3. Health Issues

There could also be some underlying health issues that are causing your pup to have excessive hunger. For example, health conditions like Cushings disease or diabetes can affect your pup’s appetite and metabolism. They should also be checked for parasites or worms.

shetland sheepdog lying in a cage looking sick
Image Credit: atiger, Shutterstock

4. Irregular Feeding Schedule

If you have a dog that was adopted from a rescue or shelter, they may not have taught them to eat slowly. In the chaos of caring for many dogs, they may not have been able to put them on a regular schedule. As a result, a dog may begin to gobble their food because they are unsure of when they will eat again.

With time, love, and patience, your dog will hopefully slow down because they are not worried about when they will get their next meal.

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The Dangers of Allowing Your Dog to Eat Too Fast

One of the life-threatening dangers of eating too fast is that your dog can choke on their food. Eating their food at a fast pace can result in gagging and vomiting. This can also result in pain and discomfort for your pet.

In addition, eating too quickly puts your dog at risk of a medical condition called gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) which is commonly known as bloat. Another concern is a condition called “food bloat.” Since GDV and food bloat are serious conditions, you should take your dog to the vet immediately if he appears to be bloated.

Dog Bloated
Image Credit: Tursk Aleksandra, Shutterstock

Top 5 Ways to Get Your Dog to Eat Slower

Depending on your pup, you may need to try different options to get him to eat slowly.

1. Puzzle Toys

Puzzle toys are an effective way to get your pup to slow down when eating. There are a variety of options on the market that allow you to hide food in crevices, so they must maneuver and play with the puzzle to get the food to release. They force your pup to eat at a slower pace.


2. Slow-Feeders

There is a large variety of slow-feeder bowls on the market. They were designed specifically for dogs that eat too fast. Do some research and read the reviews to find one that best fits your dog. You can also do a quick search on the internet to find some homemade slow-feeder options to help slow your dog down. For example, you can put a ball (one that is large enough, so he will not choke on it) in his bowl so he must eat slower.

slow feeder dog bowl
Image Credit: Yekatseryna Netuk, Shutterstock

3. Increase Feedings

Rather than doing one large feeding a day, try feeding your dog less food two to three times a day. This may also reduce the risk of bloat.


4. Hand Feeding

Although hand-feeding your pup can be time consuming, you can use mealtimes to do a training session. Take the opportunity to teach your dog to do tricks or begin some obedience training. Use their food to reward the dog. You can control how fast and how much the dog is eating, and mealtime becomes safe and enjoyable.


5. Muffin Pan or Cookie Sheet

Spread the dogs’ food across a cookie sheet. It will help to slow the dog down since they will not be able to gulp it all down at once so it will take him longer to eat his food.

Break down the portions into the small cups of a muffin tin. Fill each cup with some kibble so the portions are smaller. The dog will no longer be able to gulp their food and they will be consuming it at a slower and healthier pace.

muffin tins
Image Credit: Tara Winstead, Pexels

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Conclusion

You may never know why your dog is eating at an unhealthy pace. You can, however, try these options to prevent them from eating too quickly. It is important to find a way to break the habit to prevent them from gagging and vomiting up their food and to reduce the risk of getting bloat, a life-threatening condition.


Featured Image Credit: alejandro-rodriguez, Shutterstock

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