We’ve all seen just how fast and furious a dog can chew when you put down a bowl of their favorite food in front of them.

Although it might seem like a harmless way to eat their dinner, there are some concerns when a dog eats too fast, and as their owner, it’s up to you to get them to slow down.

Perhaps you have a dog who doesn’t know how to eat gently and patiently, or you’ve noticed your dog pick up the pace when it comes to dinner time. Whatever the reason, teaching your dog to eat at a sensible stride is essential for good digestion, and it can also have positive impacts on their health.

Why do dogs eat too fast, though?

Dogs are always aware of their surroundings, and if you’ve noticed they eat quickly, it’s likely because they are worried someone else will steal their food. This can be an instinctual thing, due to other dogs or people in the house, or just because of a pang of insatiable hunger, but whatever the reason it needs to be rectified.

If your pooch is a habitual speed eater, this is the guide for you. We’ve answered all of the questions about how to slow down a dog that eats too fast, the potential problems they face if they can’t slow down, and tips for how you can change the eating speed to something more comfortable and healthier for them.

Why Do Dogs Eat Fast?

Hungry dog

Dogs are unique creatures and have their own temperaments, with some of them taking hours to get through a simple meal, and others scoffing them down before it could even be chewed or tasted.

If your dog is a fast eater, it could just be part of their personality, but there’s likely another reason for their speed eating.

You’ll first need to rule out any medical issues that might increase their appetite, so a trip to the vet can help. They’ll test for conditions like diabetes mellitus or Cushing’s disease, which is caused by hormone imbalance, and assess whether they have an intestinal parasite. If your dog is already on medication, it could be this that’s making them feel hungry or that they’re lacking in nutrients, which leads to scoffing down.

With the medical issues ruled out, you can probably assume your dog is eating so fast because of a behavioral problem. This could be because they’re concerned another dog or animal is going to eat their food, they feel stressed or anxious, or they’ve continued on this behavior from when they were a puppy and had to compete with their littermates to eat.

Can Fast Eating Cause Problems?

problems caused by fast eating

Not only is it annoying when your dog gulps down their food without even chewing it, but some serious health risks come with this behavior.

If your dog is eating its food too fast, these are a few things you need to look out for:

Choking

Dogs and humans eating their food fast have a higher risk of choking on it. This is a serious side effect for dogs because it’s harder to help them.

If your dog eats dry food especially, choking and gagging on their food can be dangerous. When they do get it up, they might feel discomfort and vomit a lot, which isn’t fun for anyone.

Bloat

This is a specific condition found in dogs, not to be confused with regular bloat that happens sometimes. Bloat used to be called GDV or gastric dilatation-volvulus, and it’s a life-threatening condition in dogs.

When a dog eats too fast, they swallow a lot of air, and their stomach and intestines expand and twist, and this is called bloat.

Food bloat

Food bloat is similar to what humans experience and it happens when dogs eat too fast and they have bits of undigested food in their stomachs. 

Although it will pass eventually, it’s still uncomfortable, and it can be glossed over for true GDV. If you suspect any type of bloat in your dog, you should see a vet immediately. 

Vomiting

Eating too fast can cause stomach upset, and your dog might throw their food up shortly after they eat it. For dogs, this usually means eating what they’ve thrown up and probably doing it quickly, leading to more vomit.

If It’s just food that’s coming up and not foam or blood, there’s no real harm, but it’s not something you want your dog to go through every time they eat.

Tips for Getting Your Dog to Slow Down

eating from slow eating bowl

If your dog can’t seem to slow down, there are methods for feeding them that you can try that will do it for them.

Check out these tips for feeding fast eating dogs that will alleviate some health concerns and side effects.

Hand feeding

Dogs love any chance to be near their owners, and they’ll enjoy being hand-fed just to spend some time with you. Even if you don’t want to sit with them through their regular mealtime, you can use training as a way to hand feed them kibble or other treats for their daily nutrition.

Baking sheet

If your dog has an efficient and large mouth, they’ve probably figured out how to take huge gulps of food from the bowl at once without even chewing.

To get them to slow down and have to bite small amounts at once, feed them on a baking tray or sheet so you can spread the food out. They’ll take longer to eat each amount and hopefully swallow more often in between bites.

Slow feeder bowls

A slow feeder bowl is a dog accessory made for this very reason, and it does the job of portioning out food slowly for you. A slow feeder bowl releases small amounts of food at once or is shaped so they can’t gulp large amounts at once.

Food toys

Food toys are good for portioning out their meals and keeping them mentally stimulated. These include things like lick mats, snuffle mats, and Kongs, all shaped so that food can be hidden in nooks and crannies.

This means your dog has to work harder to get their meal without gulping it down quickly, and also lets them use their sniffing and hunting instincts without damaging your home.

Eating alone

Your dog might be afraid that someone else is going to steal their food, which causes them to eat it fast before anyone can get to it.

Try feeding them in the bathroom or another quiet space with no other pets nearby and close the door. By giving them a safe space to eat and leaving them alone, the urge to scoff it down might disappear.

When to Visit the Vet for Help

vet checks dogs stomach

If you’re having trouble getting your dog to slow down its eating speed with any of the above feeding methods, a visit to the help can help.

They’ll be able to establish whether any medical issues might be causing this increase in appetite or lack of nutrients, and from there, you’ll be able to treat it.

For dogs that eat too quickly and experience severe side effects, a vet visit is also required. In cases where you think your dog might have bloat, it needs to be treated immediately, otherwise, a dog can go into shock. You know your dog better than anyone, so only you can tell when a vet visit is needed urgently.

Related Questions

Feeding a dog is just one part of pet ownership that needs some fine-tuning now and then.

If you have a dog, there’s a lot to learn about how to take care of them, so read on to see our answers to some commonly asked questions about getting it right.

How Much Should a Dog Eat?

Depending on the type of dog food your dog eats, there will be recommendations based on their weight that you should follow.

Generally, standard dry kibble brands recommend 1.5 cups of food for every 22lbs for smaller breeds and 1 cup of food for every 22lbs for larger breeds of dog. For wet food, it varies again as the ingredient content of food can differ, so you should follow the label for the most accurate amount.

Should You Feed a Dog Once a Day?

It’s common practice for many dog owners to feed their pets just once a day, and usually, this is okay if your dog seems happy with it.

However, experts recommend two smaller meals fed twice a day to keep your dog’s stomach full and prevent them from eating too fast when it comes to mealtime.