The most common nutritional disease for dogs has become obesity. Canine obesity has been linked to a pet's lack of exercise, hormone issues and a slowing metabolism. Overwhelmingly however, dog obesity can be contributed to improper feeding techniques, specifically eating too fast. Eating too fast can not only lead to obesity and bloating but it can dramatically increase a dog's chance of choking and developing vomiting issues.
Below are some helpful suggestions for encouraging your dog to eat slower.
Feeding a dog by hand is the surest way to slow down your dog's eating speed. It is also however, the most time consuming and tedious. Hand feeding is best for smaller breeds of dogs that are less likely to get carried away when eating food from your fingers.
Adding a small amount of water to a dog's dry kibble makes the food stick to the sides of the food dish, causing the dog to have to work harder at getting those bits free. It also creates a paste-like substance in their mouth which encourages the dog to work it in their mouth longer before swallowing. If your pet is picky about the type of food they eat, this option may not work.
Make It Hard To Get
The best approach to preventing a dog from eating too fast, consequently saving it from a potential life of obesity is to make the dog's food hard to get. domestic dogs still have the predatory instinct to gobble a meal before another animal comes to try to steal it. Making the dog's food less accessible helps keep its eating speed in check.
For years, dog owners have put something in a dog's food bowl to make the food hard to get. Most owners who follow this technique use large rocks or weighted balls. With this technique, an object big enough for the dog not to eat and heavy enough that it won't be simply pushed out of the bowl is placed into the center of the dog dish. This barrier forces the dog to eat around the bowl and work harder for all of the meal.
The updated version of this technique incorporates a modified dog food dish that creates the barrier for you. Some companies produce silo-esque contraptions that only allow your dog to eat a set amount of food at one time. The problem with these containers is that the effective ones often run on batteries or require an electrical outlet.
There are less involved dog food dishes that produce the same results but with a simpler construction. These dishes have separate partitions that allow the dog to see and smell the food at the bottom but the dividers only allow it to consume half a cup at a time. Dogs can finish a complete meal easily but is encouraged to slow down by the limitation of space created by the partition.
Obesity and bloating are common but fixable issues canines may face. Talk to your vet and consider implementing one or more of these ideas into your dog feeding routine.
~Ben Anton, 2008
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