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5 Simple Ways To Slow Your Dog's Eating

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gas. Bloating. Choking. Vomiting. These symptoms could be linked to a common canine habit: eating too fast. If your dog has a tendency to eat like it’s going out of style, here are some simple tips to help slow him down (and relieve the associated and often unpleasant side-effects!):

1.Feed High Quality Food- It may seem expensive at first to buy higher quality food for your dog, but in the long run it’s actually cheaper. More expensive foods typically have higher quality ingredients with less fillers. Look for foods that list an actual meat product first on the ingredients list, rather than a filler like corn. With fewer fillers, your dog will be able to eat less and still feel full. The less your dog has to eat, the less food he’ll have to scarf down! Some good foods are: Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul, Blue Buffalo, by Nature Organics, and Eagle Pack. Ask your veterinarian for more suggestions and feeding instructions.

2.Make Food Less Accessible- When your dog’s food is available to him in a big heap in his dish, he’s likely to swallow mouthfuls of kibble whole. Though dogs tend not to chew their food, it’s possible to slow down how much they swallow at once. This can be easily accomplished by making the food less accessible to him. A simple method is to dump your dog’s food on a cookie sheet so it is spread out over a larger area. This will force him to eat several kibbles at a time, thereby slowing down his eating speed. If the idea of having a cookie sheet on the floor isn’t appealing, there are also specially crafted feeding dishes which accomplish the same idea by placing an obstacle in the dish. Your dog will have to work around the obstacle, making it impossible to eat more than a few pieces at a time.

3.Feed Smaller Meals More Often- Smaller meals throughout the day means less food will be ingested at once; therefore, the dog will have time to digest in between feedings. If your schedule allows for it, try feeding smaller meals every few hours rather than several large meals morning and night. Be sure to adhere to the feeding instructions on the bag or given by your veterinarian, as it can be easy to overfeed when multiple meals are given. Even if you’re gone during the day, timed feeders can be purchased to make multiple feedings practical.

4.Keep Feedings Separate- If there are multiple dogs in a household, it is important to feed each one separately. Even the most domesticated dog will instinctually eat his food at high speed to guard it from others. Keeping dogs separate at feeding time will make them feel less threatened and may allow them to slow their eating pace since they are no longer in “competition.”

5.Add A Little Water- Dry dog food expands in a dog’s stomach when it reaches the digestive liquids. When your dog eats too fast, he may eat more food than his stomach can handle when expanded. This leads to regurgitation of food and abdominal discomfort. An easy solution is to moisten dry food with a bit of water before feeding; the food will therefore be expanded before the dog eats it. This will give your dog a more accurate sense of when his stomach is “full”, and may actually be easier for some dogs to digest.

Besides employing these simple strategies, be sure your dog visits his veterinarian on a regular basis to check for other health issues. Symptoms like vomiting and bloat could also be related to intestinal parasites or other digestive issues. Sudden vomiting or bloating that are uncommon for your dog should also signal an immediate trip to the veterinarian, as they could be signs of a serious illness.

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