Puppies are furry little bundles of energy that live life with gusto, whether they’re playing fetch, pouncing through the park, or licking the face of their favorite human. But when they attack their food bowl with the same fervor, it can be bad for their health.
At Bayside Animal Hospital, we love caring for your cuddly new additions and offering you advice on all aspects of puppy parenting. If you’ve got a dog eating fast, we’ve got tips to help you tame this bad habit.
What Causes Puppies to Eat Fast?
Puppies get excited over pretty much everything, and a bowl of food is no exception! Here are some other common reasons why puppies eat fast:
- He came from a large litter or is competing with other dogs in the house.
- His diet isn’t sufficiently well-balanced.
- He was adopted from a shelter and is insecure about when he’ll be fed.
- Worms or an underlying illness could be making him ravenous.
The Health Hazards of Eating Fast
Eating fast may not seem serious, but there are plenty of reasons why fast eating is bad for dogs:
- It poses a choking risk.
- It will cause vomiting and digestive problems.
- It can cause bloat, a life-threatening condition also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus.
Getting Your Dog to Slow Down
To slow down a dog eating fast, schedule a visit with your veterinarian to rule out illnesses or parasites, and to discuss your pup’s diet. If the diagnosis involves an illness or parasite, effective treatment should return your pup’s appetite to normal. And if poor nutrition is suspected, switching to a veterinarian recommended diet should solve the issue. If a cause remains elusive, there are some tactics you can try at home:
- Use a slow feeder bowl: These clever bowls contain ridges or other raised “obstacles” that your pup has to eat around. You can purchase one or try this DIY trick: simply invert a smaller dog bowl in the middle of a larger bowl.
- Separate him from the pack: If competitive eating is suspected, give him a spot away from other pets where he feels safe.
- Serve smaller meals: Offer your pup smaller amounts of food several times a day.
- Think outside the food bowl: Use a puzzle feeder or food-dispensing toy to slow your dog’s eating while providing mental and physical enrichment. Another trick? Put small amounts of food in the cups of a muffin tin.
- Hand-feed your pup: If you have time, feeding your pup by hand until he outgrows his fast eating habit can be a valuable bonding experience for you and your new puppy.
While most puppies will outgrow this fast eating stage, it’s best to curb the behavior quickly to keep your pup safe and healthy.