Why Your Dog Eats So Fast (And Tips to Slow ‘Em Down)
We’ve all seen it before. When it’s mealtime for our dog, it seems like his kibble is gone before the food bowl ever hits the ground. The majority of dogs are guilty of this, but why?
It’s true that dogs come in all shapes and sizes, but no matter the size, it seems as though they are all fast eaters. While many of us may find it amusing when our dog gulps down his food exceptionally fast, the truth is it can be dangerous.
If your dog is a speed eater, he could experience some major health problems in the future. We clearly don’t want that for our pup, so we should try our best to put an end to this behavior. We don’t want to be making a trip to the vet anytime soon.
What we don’t know can, in fact, hurt our dog. This is why it’s important to understand all of the harmful effects that can occur when your dog won’t slow down.
If you’ve ever wondered why dogs eat so fast, are there dangers to eating too fast, and how to fix the problem you’ve come to the right place.
We’re going to talk about a few of the most common reasons your dog chooses to inhale his food rather than take his time. We’re also going to discuss all of the risks involved if this behavior doesn’t stop. Lastly, we’re going to give you a few pointers on how to solve this problem.
First up, why do dogs eat so fast in the first place?
Why Do Dogs Eat So Fast?
Have you ever wondered why your dog eats so fast? Of course, you have. Everyone has because of how fascinating it is.
This is a very good question that many pet owners ask themselves. I think it’s shocking to us because we don’t wolf down food like a dog unless we’re starving.
First and foremost, the reason your dog eats so quickly isn’t that he’s starving. You could have him on the perfect diet and feed him multiple times per day and that probably wouldn’t change a thing.
However, your dog is not an outlier. The majority of dogs eat rather quickly. This is just how it is.
So, why do dogs eat so quickly? There are a few reasons why your dog is eating so fast. Here are the most common:
- Low-quality Food
- Changes in Meal Times
- Underlying Health Condition
Competition for Food
One reason your dog may be gulping down his kibble rather than looking like he’s actually enjoying it is due to competition. This is the most common reason your dog acts like eating his food is a race.
The reason many dogs view mealtime as competition is because when they were puppies it was! As puppies, they had to nurse with their littermates. They had to compete to make sure they got enough food to survive before it was all gone.
Even as your pup ages, he can carry this instinctual behavior with him all the way into adulthood. This is a bad habit that should be broken before it causes other problems– health problems in particular.
This competitiveness can escalate if there are other animals in your household. If your dog is an only dog, he can still have a competitive nature due to his wolf-like instincts.
You shouldn’t count on this competitiveness to go away. It won’t.
Another reason your dog may be eating quickly is because of low-quality dog food. This is true if you have a bigger dog especially.
If this is the case, your dog is eating faster than he should be because he’s not getting the proper nutrients he needs from his food.
If you think this is the case, check your dog’s food for the ingredient list. Not sure what to look for?
If it says something like “by-product,” it may be low-quality dog food. You want to go for terms like “Meat Meal.” These generally tend to have the highest protein content.
Changes in Meal Times
If you have recently changed the time you normally feed your dog it could’ve thrown him for a loop. He may be eating fast because he’s not accustomed to this change in schedule yet.
This could also be the case for a dog you’ve just recently adopted. Bringing a dog home to a new environment and new eating schedule may make him a bit uncomfortable. He’ll gobble it up if he’s not sure when his next meal will be.
Underlying Health Condition
Lastly, your dog may be eating quickly due to an underlying health condition. These medical issues can vary. If the underlying health condition causes your dog to eat too fast, however, it’s much easier to pinpoint.
The illness is generally something that makes your dog feel hungry at all times. For example, it could be diabetes.
Diabetes in Dogs
According to the American Kennel Club, diabetes comes in two forms:
- Insulin-deficiency diabetes
- Insulin-resistance diabetes
If your dog suffers from insulin-deficiency diabetes, this simply means your dog’s body isn’t producing enough insulin.
Insulin-resistance diabetes usually occurs in older or obese dogs. This is when the dog’s body is producing some insulin but his body isn’t using it as it should.
Either way, the result is an increase in appetite. This is because the body’s cells aren’t getting the appropriate amount of glucose they need.
Another underlying health condition that could be the reason your dog is eating so fast is Cushing’s syndrome.
Cushing’s Syndrome and Your Dog
Cushing’s syndrome occurs when your dog’s body produces too much cortisol. According to PetMD, it is most commonly seen in middle-aged to older dogs.
As with diabetes, there are also different types of Cushing’s syndrome. They are:
- Pituitary-Dependant Cushing’s Syndrome
- Adrenal Gland Tumor
- Iatrogenic Cushing’s Syndrome
“Pituitary-dependent Cushing’s disease occurs when a tumor of the pituitary gland at the base of the brain secretes too much of the hormone that stimulates the adrenal gland to make cortisol,” PetMD says.
The adrenal glands are responsible for creating stress hormones. They are located beside the kidney.
Lastly, latrogenic Cushing’s syndrome is caused by long-term use of steroids.
Cushing’s syndrome can be responsible for causing kidney infections, high blood pressure, diabetes, and bladder stones in your pet.
Cushing’s has multiple symptoms but increased appetite is one. Aside from that, other symptoms include increased urination, panting, lethargy, and skin infections.
Luckily, there are treatment options for dogs diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome. The treatments require surgery, radiation, or medication.
Not only is eating too fast a sign of an underlying health concern, but it can also be the cause of serious medical conditions. As a pet parent, preventing this bad habit should be your overall goal. Here are some dangers that come with dogs eating too fast:
- Digestive Issues
- Food Bloat
- Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus
Eating too quickly can cause certain digestive issues for your pup. These aren’t as serious and normally fix themselves.
Vomiting is the first thing that can be a result of your dog eating too quickly. Furthermore, if he eats so fast he can’t chew his food, it becomes a choking hazard. The result of this can be choking, gagging, and regurgitating.
Food bloat, or just “bloat,” is no laughing matter. Bloat occurs when your dog eats a massive amount of food. By massive I mean an entire bag of dog food, an extra bag of treats, or the garbage.
When this happens, the result is too much air and food inside your dog’s stomach. The good news is food bloat isn’t normally life-threatening.
The main concern when it comes to food bloat is that it can be very painful for your dog. The pain is caused by your dog’s stomach stretching. In addition, it can turn into vomiting, diarrhea, and even pancreatitis.
Although I said food bloat isn’t normally life-threatening, a trip to the vet may still need to happen. This is because you can’t tell the difference between food bloat and gastric dilatation-volvulus.
Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)
I know I said food bloat was no laughing matter but GDV is life-threatening. Whereas food bloat is the result of too much air and food inside of your dog’s stomach, GDV is when your dog’s stomach is twisted. This requires immediate emergency care.
According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, gastric dilatation-volvulus is a “condition commonly associated with large meals and causes the stomach to dilate, because of food and gas, and may get to a point where neither are expelled.” This is followed by increased pressure in the stomach.
The entire body suffers from poor ventilation, resulting in the stomach becoming dilated enough to rotate the abdomen. This process is known as volvulus.
Any dog can find itself with a case of gastric dilation or volvulus, but the most common breeds are Great Danes and Standard Poodles.
I know eating too quickly doesn’t sound like a major problem but it is. Talking about life-threatening medical conditions just because your pup wolfed down his kibble in a matter of seconds can be terrifying. But this is the reality.
As mentioned, there are many possible dangers that accompany this bad eating habit. When it comes to food bloat and gastric dilatation-volvulus, you can’t tell the difference, so a trip to the vet is a good idea if you think it’s either one.
Understanding these dangers is the only way we can better take care of our pup.
Now that we’ve discussed the dangers that come with rapid eating, we can move on to how you can stop them. Stopping this habit should be your number one priority.
How Do I Stop this Bad Habit?
Now that we’ve discussed the negative consequences of your dog eating too fast, how can you stop this habit? If you’re sure there’s no medical reason for your dog’s frenzy at mealtime, try these tips for slowing him down:
- Multiple Small Meals
- Slow Feeder Bowls
- Muffin Tins
- Food Puzzles
- Hand Feeding
Start With Multiple Small Meals
If you’re like most people, you probably feed your dog twice a day at most. Many pet parents opt to feed their dogs once a day.
If this is the case, try feeding your dog multiple times a day. A good goal is four to five times per day. The smaller meals will give your pup a smaller chance of bloating. It could also slow him down because he’s not having to wait as long between meals.
Slow Feeder Bowls
While upping the number of meals you give your dog each day may not slow him down, a slow feeder bowl most definitely will. Slow feeder bowls are designed for one purpose: To prevent gulping. This forces your dog to be patient.
These magical innovations typically have a barrier that breaks up the bowl’s surface area. This prevents your dog from doing what he normally does: Inhale his food.
If you don’t want to go out of your way to purchase one, a do-it-yourself slow feeder bowl can be created by placing a tennis ball inside of your dog’s bowl. This doesn’t allow him to speed eat because it forces him to work his way around the tennis ball.
Another crafty do-it-yourself route you can take is by using a muffin tin. It sounds quite simple and it is.
Muffin tins are what they sound like: What you bake muffins in. Like working around the tennis ball, muffin tins force your pup to go to each indention, rather than having all of his food in one location.
Slow Your Dog Down With Food Puzzles
Food puzzles are an interesting concept, but they really work. This is also a great option if you want to make mealtime more fun.
Food puzzles are dog toys. The difference is that food puzzles have dog food in them. Thus, your pet has to figure out a way to manipulate the toy so he can get the food to come out.
This is not only fun for your dog, but for you as well, as it can be extremely entertaining to watch him wrestle with this toy.
If fancy bowls, muffin tins, and tennis balls aren’t your cup of tea, you can always go the route of hand feeding.
Hand feeding works because your dog would be eating his food in smaller increments. Your hand can’t hold as much food as a regular-sized dog bowl.
Hand-feeding takes at least a couple of minutes. Aside from slowing down your speed eater, it’s also great for bonding and training exercises.
The Wrap Up
Now that you know what causes this kind of behavior, the dangers of it, and how to fix it, it’s time to put an end to it. Rapid eating in dogs can cause health problems for them down the road.
The health problems that come with eating too quickly are digestive issues like gagging, food bloat, and even gastric dilatation-volvulus.
It’s important to remember that food bloat is when there is too much air and food inside of your dog’s stomach. It is very painful for your pooch.
GDV is when your dog’s stomach is literally twisted. It requires immediate emergency care.
The tricky part is that you can’t tell the difference. Both cause extreme pain for your dog.
However, the good news is that you may not have to worry about these misfortunes if you can just get your dog to slow down.
You can do this in a few ways. These ways include changing your dog’s diet to multiple meals per day, looking to change to a small feeder bowl, opting for a muffin tin, choosing to invest in food puzzles, and hand feeding.
If you follow these tips and tricks, your dog will be well on his way to eating at a normal and healthy pace.