How to Slow Down a Dog That Eats Too Fast

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Luna isn’t my first dog. But she has given me enough firsts to make up for it.

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One of the things I’ve never encountered before is fast eating. Morgan used to barely eat her food. Luna eats hers as fast as possible.

It almost seems like she is in a speed eating competition she eats so fast. Sometimes she eats so fast that she starts to cough like she swallowed wrong.

Besides the coughing there are other reasons to slow down a dog’s eating. One is that they could choke. Or they could start gagging. Gagging could lead to vomiting. No one wants that.

Eating too fast can also lead to the life threatening condition called bloat. Bloat is a condition where the stomach fills with gas and expands. This expansion causes serious problems by itself but can lead to an even more serious problem. This is where the stomach twists. If the stomach twists it can lead to quick death.

Whether the stomach twists or not, bloat can cause a dog to die quickly. If a dog develops bloat the only thing you can do is rush them to the vet and hope it is fast enough to save them.

Because bloat is so bad for dogs, the best thing is prevention. For a dog that eats too fast, slowing them down is the easiest prevention. And there are multiple things you can try to slow them down.

German Shepherd using a snuffle mat

I’ve tried several different things to slow down Luna’s eating. Some have been more successful than others, but I will share them all below.

Those that can be purchased will have links to Amazon. The one that can be hand made will have a link to the directions for making it.

Ways to Slow That Speed Eater Down

Hand Feed

Hand feeding is the best way to slow down a speed eater. It’s also the one I use the least, though I like that it is free.

It works by allowing you to control exactly how fast your dog eats. You control all access to the food, so your dog doesn’t have a chance to eat fast.

I don’t like this method mainly because I tend to feed Luna around the same time I’m eating. I can’t eat if I’m hand feeding her.

Plus, I don’t like how my hands feel after handling the food and being licked so much.

Split Meals Up

This one involves only giving your dog a portion of their meal at a time.

Luna gets 2 ¼ cups of food at a meal (fed twice a day) so we give her 1 ¼ and then wait a few minutes before giving her the other 1 cup.

She still tries to eat each portion as fast as possible, but it forces her to pause in between each portion.

I like this better than hand feeding because I can dish up each portion at the same time (I have two food bowls for her). Then I just have to swap dishes a few minutes after she finishes the first.

Slow Feeder Bowl

We combine the slow feeder bowl with splitting Luna’s meals up. We tried just the slow feeder bowl and it did slow her down some.

It just didn’t seem to slow her down enough until we started splitting the meals up as well.

We have tried three different types of slow feeder bowls and found two that we like. We put about half of Luna’s food in each bowl and swap them out a few minutes after she’s emptied one of them.

German Shepherd eating from a slow feeder bowl.

The two I like are linked above. They are sold by the same company and they do have a third bowl, but I haven’t tried that one. Here is another slow feeder bowl that you can try.

Kong Wobbler

This one worked really well for slowing Luna down. I bought the large size and it only fits 1 cup of food at a time. Since it only holds 1 cup I still had to split Luna’s meals up, but it did slow her down.

It works by having a heavy base and only a small hole for the food to fall out. Luna had to learn how to knock it over to get the food to fall out of the hole. The food is then dropped on the floor for the dog to eat.

This one didn’t work really well for us at first because our two dogs were on different types of food and had to be fed in their kennels to keep them from stealing each other’s food. And the Kong Wobbler does not do well in a kennel with a big dog.

Now they are on the same food and do pretty good about eating only their food, so we are able to use the Kong Wobbler more often.

You can purchase one here, or here.

Snuffle Mat

Gray and maroon snuffle mat

This one you can make yourself and choose the size you want to make. You can read about how to make it here.

Once it is made you bury the food in the strips of fabric. Your dog then has to sniff the food out and find it in the many strips of fabric.

It seemed to work alright but the one I made was just too small for Luna’s meals. Because she gets so much food per meal it was impossible to hide the food enough to slow her down.

I may try it again with a larger mat (I used a dish mat for the one I made), but I haven’t decided yet.

This size would work for smaller dogs that are speed eaters, but not for dogs Luna’s size. It still works as mental stimulation with treats, but not for meals for Luna.

Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball

This one works similar to the Kong Wobbler, but it’s a ball.

Luna figured this one out pretty fast, so it didn’t slow her down much. Unlike the Kong Wobbler, there is nothing to tip it back up, so the dog can get more food out all at once.

The biggest problem we had was once it was down to just a few pieces of kibble. Those last few pieces struggled to come out because of the design. We usually ended up shaking the last few pieces out for Luna.

It slowed her down some, but not as much as the Kong Wobbler or the slow feeder bowls.

Muffin Tin

Using a muffin tin is similar to using a slow feeder bowl. I haven’t tried this one, but it could be a good option to use instead of a slow feeder bowl. Or use it while waiting for a slow feeder bowl that was ordered online to arrive.

There are two options for using a muffin tin to slow your dog down. One is to split the food up into the separate muffin cups. The other would be to put the muffin tin upside down and then spread the food out between the upside down muffin cups.

Both options would slow your dog down because the food in any one spot would be limited.

Spread Food on the Floor

This one is probably the easiest (and it’s free), though I’ve never used this one myself.

All you do is spread the food out on the floor. The more spread out it is the slower your dog eats. I haven’t used this one for a couple of reasons.

One is I don’t really want dog food all over my floors (most of which are carpet).

The other is that I don’t want to have to worry about Morgan stealing some of Luna’s food while it’s all over the floor.

If Luna didn’t eat so much I could maybe spread it on the floor of her kennel, but with the amount she eats it wouldn’t slow her down much.

Have you tried any of these methods to slow your speed eater down? What other methods have you tried?

1 thought on “How to Slow Down a Dog That Eats Too Fast”

  1. I have a puzzle bowl for our rapid eater. She slowed down a SMIDGE, but she’s still done in under three minutes. Then looking around the house for more food. SMH.

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