Do eating habbits affect your dogs health?
We’re all familiar with the happy spins dogs make before we serve their bowl of food - pure joy! But did you know that the time your dog takes to finish its bowl of food can have huge effects on its health? Let me tell you all about it.
Dogs would never tell you enough is enough. Unlike cats that can live off one serving of food for a week, dogs would eat any food they have in their eyesight! Not only they don’t know when to stop, which can cause the well-known late night vomit, but also the time they (don’t) take to eat their food can result in serious health issues.
There are usually two types of dogs:
Nibblers - who eat and chew slowly and generally enjoy themselves when they have their food.
Gobblers on the other hand can finish their meal in a blink of an eye! They come in all shapes and sizes. This can cause both you and the dog a lot of pain!
Can eating fast cause health issues?
Watching your dog gulp its food might make you giggle and adore the chaotic way your dog goes about casual things like eating! But these dogs tend to suffer the consequences of fast eating. Even if you don’t think a medical emergency is coming your way (which by the way is possible and it’s called gastric dilatation-volvulus), health and behaviour issues are very common.
When your dog swallows its food without chewing, there is also some air entering their bellies. This later on expands alongside the food and can cause discomfort and abdominal pain.
2. Choking and gagging
The faster your dog eats, the higher the chances get of it having some bigger pieces of food go where they shouldn’t. Best case scenario would be for your dog to spew some of its dinner after struggling with it. Sometimes however, food gets stuck in their airways and medical intervention is the one thing you should seek immediately!
3. Weight Gain
You wouldn’t think that time could be converted in weight, but the faster your dog eats, the hungrier it would get eventually. Usually this happens after some time of your dog developing behavioural issues and learns how to trick you into giving them more food (Bark!Bark!)
4. Gastric dilatation-volvulus
Yes, this doesn’t make sense unless you’re a professional. In simpler, yet scarier words, it means the stomach ruptures after too much food is ingested. This would be accompanied by huge pain and discomfort for your pup, followed by an urgent trip to your nearest vet practice!
Don’t think much explanation is needed here! Nearly every dog owner is familiar with the smell of rotten eggs that wakes you up while your pup is sleeping next to you. Yes, fast eating causes that too!
How can you improve your dog’s eating behaviour?
Training your dog common commands such as come, sit and paw usually comes with lots of treats. But how can you train your dog towards a certain behaviour with food .. without the food?
Food-related health and behavioural problems are still somewhat a mystery to vets. Some say dieting is a solution, but most people wouldn’t put themselves through a diet, let alone their own dog!
2. More meal times
Surprisingly, giving more meals to your dog could actually result in them having better eating habits. The increased amount of meals tricks them into believing food is coming no matter what, which eventually significantly slows down their speed! (Make sure to split their daily dose in between those meals.)
3. Use a puzzle bowl
Slow Feeders or Puzzle bowls, which you might’ve already seen on Tik-Tok, are mentally challenging dog bowls. They are specially designed to slow your pet down when eating, instead of inhaling their kibble.
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4. Use a larger dog bowl
Using a larger dog bowl makes it harder for your dog to take ‘big bites’ while chasing the food around the bowl. You can challenge them even more if you add a dog ball in there too!
Nibbler, not a Gobbler!
Training young pups how to eat their food in a slower manner tends to be easier than older dogs. Older ones, on the other hand, are usually the ones that need the urgent change in their diet/eating behaviour due to other age-related health issues.
Make sure you train your dog proper table manners so you save yourself the stress of having to deal with health and behavioural issues at a later stage.
The goal here is to achieve plausible table manners through mental stimulation so your pup does not get anxious through dieting or changing meal routine.