Just like us dogs get enjoyment from food. However just like us they vary in the speed in which they eat.
Most of the time the speed that they finish their food is not an issue but could they be getting a greater benefit from mealtimes if they slow down?
For some dogs mealtimes seem to be a competition of how quickly they can wolf down their food. There can be several reasons why they may want to be quick;
- Competitiveness with litter mates that later becomes a pattern
- Concern that it isn’t safe to linger over food, sometimes a consequence of a busy house
- Underlying medical conditions
- Poor quality food that isn’t satisfying
3 reasons to slow your dog down
You may be wondering why bother? Your dog eats, their appetite is good and you never hear any complaints.
Here are three good reasons why it’s a good idea to change their eating habits.
Eating is a pleasure
Most domestic dogs have little to do each day. The daily walk and meal times are usually the highlights of their day.
Although most of us recognise the benefit that our dogs get from daily exercise, few of us really appreciate the pleasure or mental stimulation that food can provide.
Giving your dog their food in a bowl not only reduces the amount of time they take to eat it but it also ignores the mental workout it can provide too.
Providing your dog with a chance to actively think about their meal and extend the time it takes for them to enjoy it will benefit both your dog’s mind and body.
Dog obesity is on the rise, in fact it’s the most common health issue in our dogs. You may wonder what that has to do with eating fast but it really does matter.
Slower eaters (both human and canine) experience more satiety when they eat. This means that your dog is less likely to beg if they feel full, keeping you from succumbing to those big puppy dog eyes and over feeding.
Not only are you extending the pleasure they get from their food by using a slow feed dog bowl, but you are also ensuring a healthy eating habit and managing their weight.
Dogs that eat quickly are much more likely to experience both minor and major health issues such as;
- Stomach pain
And just like us dogs that eat quickly may not feel full until much later and present with an increased desire for food that could be tempting to indulge. Of all the possible health issues bloat, is without doubt the most worrying. Although the others can be unpleasant for both you and your dog, bloat is life threatening
What is Bloat?
The proper name for Bloat is Gastric Dilitation-Volvulus (GDV) but if it’s OK with you, I’ll stick to calling it bloat!
Our dogs’ stomachs are very similar to our own as they look a little like a balloon. If we eat too quickly we can suffer from bloating and gas. It’s quite common for this bloating to be accompanied by an uncomfortable feeling in our stomachs.
We tend to recover quickly though even after a large meal and often find relief by passing wind. Our dogs, however are not so lucky and what may start out as gas can quickly develop into something much more serious.
When a dog eats too quickly or too much, the resulting gas inflates the stomach and stretches it blowing it up like a balloon. As the stomach continues to stretch it blocks the circulation of blood to the heart and the stomach leading to tissue damage.
In many cases the stomach also twists at both the top and bottom blocking the stomach from the oesophagus and shutting off the pyloric valve which prevents the gas from escaping the stomach.
Bloat can be fatal exceptionally fast so it’s important to recognise the symptoms of bloat and act quickly by taking your dog to a veterinarian.
Symptoms of bloat
How do you know that your dog is suffering from bloat? Look out for the following symptoms and if in doubt go to your vet;
- Odd behaviour
- Enlarged stomach
- Hard, taught stomach (like a drum)
- Lack of normal stomach sounds
- Hunched posture or inability to lay down on their sides
- Dry heaving
- Anxiety and pacing
Things to keep in mind
Slow-feed dog bowls typically have ridges, bumps or barriers that break up the bowl’s surface. The food collects around the obstacles and gives your dog a more interesting eating experience whilst slowing the rate at which they eat. However there are some things to consider if introducing this type of feeder to your dog:
- If your dog is a chewer, then they may over interested in the nodules and ridges and chew them.
- If it’s too difficult for your dog to get to the food, they may get frustrated and give up.
- Your dog may decide to flip the bowl over if it’s too difficult and the bowls are more difficult to clean.
The best dog bowls to slow down eating
There are a lot of slow feeders on the market so we have rounded up the best. Here’s a snap shot of the 7 top contenders but if you want to know a bit more about each, then read on;
We’ve looked at different sizes, shapes, colours and materials so here’s the lowdown on each of our choices! If you want a quick pick we like the Paw5 Snuffle mat but for more detailed reviews, see below;
- A revolutionary way to turn a dog's meal into a challenging time-consuming game
- Slowing down eating helps reduce the risk of bloat and the unlpleasant after-effects of eating too fast
- Designed like a tuft of grass but looking like a contemporary piece of art
The green slow feeder is designed to mimic grass. Simply scatter wet, dry or Barf (raw) food between the blades and the Green slow feeder will keep your dog mentally stimulated whilst eating, with more time to enjoy the taste of the food.
- Simple design
- Dishwasher safe
- Extends eating time
- Two sizes available
- The ‘grass’ is very long so may prevent dogs with short noses from gaining access
- Very mobile despite having rubber, non slip feet
- Large item if there’s limited space
The slow feeder “no gulp” is a more traditional bowl shape and can be used for food or water. It has 3 raised nodules that are effective in slowing your dog down while eating.
- Suitable for food and water so great travel bowl
- Three size options
- Food stays in the dish, preventing mess
- Lightweight, so moves around easily
- Thin, brittle plastic, easy to chew or break
- Difficult to use for short nose dogs
- PROMOTES FUN HEALTHY EATING - Fun Feeder Slo-Bowls help dogs eat up to 10X slower
- IMPROVES DIGESTION - These dog bowls naturally improve digestion by allowing dogs to forage for their food through the fun patterns and mazes
- VETERINARIAN RECOMMENDED -Vets recommend Fun Feeder Slo-Bowls to aid in digestion and help prevent bloat
Another interesting design featuring meal-lengthening ridges and mazes to keep your dogs interested as they eat.
- High-quality, food-safe ABS plastic
- Good for short nose dogs
- Non-slip base
- Dishwasher safe
- Colour and size choice
- Large bowl if limited space
- More complicated design so food gets stuck
- Difficult to clean
- PREMIUM MATERIAL: the Slow Feeder Cat Bowl made by heavy duty plastic, non-toxic, food grade safety, sturdy
- UNIQUE DESIGN: the swirl flower pattern of the Slow Bowl is designed to slow down rapid eating, stop choking, interactive and fun feeder, educes tummy aches, diarrhea and vomiting by fast eaters, eat...
- the base of the Interactive Dog Fun Feeder has NON SLIP design, prevent your dog from sliding and moving around
Unique interactive flower design that promotes healthy eating, Can be used for food and water. Made from silicone.
- Silicone rather than plastic
- Non-slip base
- Dishwasher safe
- More complex design so extends feeding time
- Suitable for food and water
- More suitable for smaller dogs
- Not great for short nose dogs
- Pet food bowl with unique tic-tac-toe design promotes slower eating
- Helps prevent bloating, regurgitation, and obesity
- 50-ounce capacity; can be used with wet food or dry kibble
We love this tic-tac-toe version of a slow feeder. Simple enough for novice dogs but challenging enough to slow down even the most enthusiastic gulpers.
- Good for all shapes and sizes of snout
- Perfect introduction to slow feeding
- Takes up a lot of space
- Not very challenging for experienced dogs
- Slips around on the floor
- Hump feature to prevent pets from eating too fast.
- Non-slip and easy to clean
- Dishwasher safe
A simple design that’s Easy to clean and dishwasher safe. Perfect if your dog likes to chew as it’s made from durable stainless steel.
- Simple, perfect if your dog is trying a slow feeder for the first time
- Easy to clean
- Stainless steel – unlikely to be chewed
- Too simple for some dogs so they still eat fast
- Gets scratched and stained over time
- ENGAGE YOUR DOG'S SENSE OF SMELL - Puts your dog's nose and brain to work by mimicking the hunt for food in nature.
- SIMPLY CHALLENGING - Encourages natural foraging skills.
- EASY-TO-FILL FEEDING MAT - Fun-to-use design and durable construction.
OK, not strictly a bowl but we had to include it. The Snuffle mat has lots of fleecy folds for food to hide in and for your dog to seek it out.The ruffle snuffle is particularly good for puppies or convalescing dogs as there are no sharp edges.
- Hand made
- Suitable for all dogs including puppies
- Only suitable for dry food
- Frequent washing required
- Can be messy- Dogs may chew or throw the mat around
- Some man handling needed to get the food deep into the folds
Dog bowls to slow down eating
There you have it, 7 of the best Dog bowls to slow down eating. Whichever one you choose, you are sure to be enriching your dog’s day by extending the time and pleasure they get from their food.
If your dog is new to interactive feeding, it’s best to start with a simple puzzle and work up to more advanced designs. Dogs enjoy working for food but they don’t enjoy being frustrated.
And remember to always keep an eye on your dog just in case the feeder gets mistaken for food or a chew toy!
Last update on 2018-11-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API