Dear Doctor - March 2016
My Dog Eats Awfully Fast
Better pacing during meals
Q My dog eats awfully fast. Should I be concerned? When people eat too fast, they get indigestion.
Basking Ridge, New Jersey
Dear Ms. Holstein,
A Dogs in general are members of the Clean Plate Club, and they often clean fast. It may have something to do with the fact that they have less than a quarter of the taste buds that people do. Why chew carefully and make an effort to really taste your food if the flavor intensity is not going to be that great no matter how hard you try?
If your dog has no untoward signs resulting from her fast eating and is a small to medium-size pet, don’t worry about it.
But if your dog is a large and deep-chested, such as a great Dane or German shepherd, rapid eating over a prolonged period can predispose to gastric dilatation and volvulus, in which the chronically overstretched stomach becomes acutely bloated and twisted. In some cases, if the dog is not treated quickly enough, he will die.
For that reason, it’s a good idea to keep large, deep-chested dogs from eating too much too quickly. How?
1. Feed the dog more than twice a day. The twice-a-day rule is not sacrosanct. Dole out a day’s worth of food into three or four meals.
2. Don’t put an entire meal in one bowl. Put the kibble for a single meal in a few locations around the house.
3. Turn your pet’s metal food bowl upside down. If it’s designed not to tip over, it will have a raised circle in the middle, sort of like the middle of a bundt pan. Spread the food throughout the ring encircling the raised middle. That will make your dog keep lifting her head and moving down to another part of the bowl, slowing down her repast.
4. Use a bowl like a Brake-Fast bowl. These bowls have plastic knobs or “fingers” in the center that a dog has to eat around, slowing her pace. Such a bowl also slides, so the dog will have to chase her food a little bit.
5. Feed some of your dog’s food from toys like Kongs and food puzzle. Getting kibble out of those things doesn’t just happen — the dog has to work at it.