So you feed your pup their normal dinner and turn to do something else in the room. You then turn around five seconds later and see your pup wide-eyed and staring at you, having already scarfed down their entire meal in no time.
This ravenous devouring and gulping down of every piece and morsel of kibble might be mind-boggling or even cute, but it’s not healthy for your pet, and it’s not a sign that you simply need to feed them more to sate their hunger.
Here’s what you need to know about the dangers of overly-quick eating for dogs and how slow feeders can help — as well as the seven slow feeder bowls you should consider buying.
The Best 7 Slow Feeder Dog Bowls:
Why is it Dangerous for Dogs to Eat Too Fast?
When a dog eats too quickly, it can encounter many of the same issues that a human might if they were to do the same. This dangerous behavior can result in…
- Stomach upset, including vomiting and bloating
- A life-threatening condition known as Gastric Dilatation Volvulus
- Other bad behaviors
While obviously some of these side effects are worse than others, they’re all negative for your favorite furry friend, and some — like choking — are even life-threatening.
What is Gastric Dilatation Volvulus?
Obviously choking, gagging, stomach upset and hiccups are things that can happen to anyone when they eat too quickly, but what is Gastric Dilatation Volvulus?
Sometimes also just called GVD, this condition is more prominent in large dogs but is always dangerous. GVD occurs when your dog takes in too much air while eating, making the stomach twist. If a dog’s stomach twists, it can cause organ rupture, shock, and death.
Why Does My Dog Eat So Quickly?
But if your dog isn’t eating so quickly because they’re hungry, why are they eating like they haven’t seen a meal in days? There are a few things that might be to blame.
If your dog ever needed to compete with other animals or other dogs for their food — such as if they lived in a multi-pet home where the care wasn’t the best, or if they were a stray — then they may still think they need to eat as quickly as possible to get as much food as possible.
Sometimes, this behavior can result from an illness such as a hormone imbalance or a nutrient deficiency. This might particularly be the case if you’ve noticed that this is brand-new behavior for your dog. In this instance, consider discussing your concerns with your vet.
In the meantime, use a slow feeder bowl and the recommended tactics to slow your dog’s eating habits.
What is a Slow Feeder Dog Bowl?
A slow feeder dog bowl is, instead of just a hollow bowl like a standard dog dish, a dish that features various obstacles that make it more difficult for your dog to reach their food.
While this might seem like a mean trick — keeping your seemingly starving pup from their kibble — feeder bowls both slow your dog’s consumption and provide mental stimulation, which are both important for the best in canine health.
Best Slow Feeder Dog Food Bowls
There are tons of different slow feeder dog bowls out there. Some are easier for your dog to navigate than others. Some are made with specific dog sizes or breeds in mind. Some don’t even look at all like a bowl. Here are a few of our favorites.
This high-quality, highly ranked, slow feeder bowl is available on Amazon and comes in various shapes and colors. Some designs feature big swirls, with your dog’s food trapped within the swirl’s rings, while others are shaped like a Belgian waffle, with food falling into the waffle’s individual squares.
Whichever design you choose, these slow feed bowls from Outward Hound can hold up to four cups of food each and offer a non-slip base for less mess. There’s a reason why the brand has sold more than a million of these slow-feeder bowls — they’re a great value, and they work to slow down eating.
This American-made slow feeder bowl comes in four colors, and each bowl is shaped a little like an overturned egg carton, with your dog’s food falling into all the nooks, crannies, and crevices. The bowls come in various sizes, to fit various dog breeds.
Unlike some slow feeder bowls, this one is comfortable even for those dog breeds with flat faces. The brand also offers a version of the bowl that features an attached water dish.
This is definitely the most budget-friendly option on our list, and it’s a good pick for those pet parents who just want to give the slow feeder thing a try before investing in a pricier option.
The lightweight dog bowl features slanted edges that make it more difficult for your dog to simply turn the bowl over, and rubber non-skid feet make for less slippage and even more stability. The bowl’s design is maze-like, with a pattern of interchanging raised ledges and dots your dog must maneuver to get to their food.
The bowl comes in multiple sizes and colors.
If you’re specifically looking for a slow feeder bowl designed with flat-faced dog breeds in mind, consider this option that’s less of a bowl and more of a slanted tray with a series of grooves that separate your dog’s dry food into portions of varying sizes. The design makes it easier for small, short-snout dogs to get to their food without hurting their little faces.
This flat face dog bowl can only hold about a cup and a half of dry food, so it’s not ideal for large breeds. It’s also dishwasher safe.
If your dog prefers wet food, you may have a problem when shopping for a slow feeder solution. Most are just made with dry dog food in mind. However, this particular anti-gulp dog bowl does take wet food into consideration. Its design slows fast eaters down but allows for feeding wet food with less mess.
If you don’t think your dog will need a super-difficult, mentally challenging puzzle feeder to slow down eating, and a simple obstacle will do the trick, consider this more simplistic and streamlined slow feeder dog bowl. It’s a standard silicone and stainless steel bowl with just a raised column in the middle (think a design similar to a bundt pan). Your dog will need to move around the singular column to get to all their food, but they won’t need to do any problem-solving or stick their faces into small nooks to get to every last bite.
This bowl comes in three sizes that can hold between a cup and a half and three cups of dry food.
This interactive dog feeder isn’t really a bowl at all. Instead, the dish is a flat surface covered in nubs of various sizes. Scatter your dog’s food across the surface and let them go to town, sniffing out each piece and finding it before chowing down.
This dish can be used with wet and dry dog foods, and it’s dishwasher safe, with a grippy bottom for no more slipping.
How to Pick the Right Slow Feeder Pet Bowl for Your Pup
One of the above options caught your eye? We sat down with Dr. Megan Conrad, a veterinarian with Hello Ralphie, and asked her what should be considered when buying a slow feeder bowl for your pup. She shared, “One thing to consider is the design. If it’s too complex, your dog may just decide not to eat.” She also suggested choosing the right material. “They’re available in plastic, silicone, stainless steel,
and ceramic. Stainless steel is generally the most durable and least prone to bacterial growth. Non-toxic
plastic and silicone can work well, though if your dog is a serious chewer, they run the risk of chewing
off and ingesting plastic pieces,” she told us. “Ceramic dishes carry the risk of your dog chipping their teeth and can break if dropped. Also, make sure the size of the dish is appropriate for your dog’s size and will adequately hold the amount of food in their meals. Since the design is more complex than a regular bowl and harder to clean, look for something dishwasher-safe.”
Let’s look a bit more at these considerations and others.
As you can probably see, some of these feeder bowls will be more difficult than others. Consider how much mental stimulation and enrichment your dog prefers on a regular basis. Are they a happy problem-solver, or are they a little on the lazy side? Pick a bowl that will slow them down but without frustrating them needlessly.
Whether you’re shopping for big dogs or small dogs, you’ll probably want to go a size up from your normal bowl when shopping for a slow feeder option, as you have to consider the amount of space the bowl’s obstacles take up. You want plenty of room for that pet food to be moved around.
Consider any extra features you might want from a slow feeder bowl. Maybe you want a bowl that comes with an attached water dish. Maybe you want a bowl compatible with your current raised bowl system. Maybe you want a bowl that’s dishwasher-safe.
Whatever will make your life easier while keeping your pup safe, look for that option.
No Feeder Bowl? No Problem
But as any pet parent will tell you, sometimes it’s impossible to get Fido to adjust to a new routine. They don’t love that new water bowl you bought for them? Don’t care for that fancy new bed? Then forget about it. They’d rather go thirsty and sleep on the cold, hard floor than change their ways.
So, if your pup has difficulty adjusting to a feeder bowl like the ones above, consider opting for a different option.
Instead of putting all their food into a slow feeder bowl and making that their only option at mealtime, introduce them to the concept slowly via a food puzzle toy. These toys are meant to distribute very small portions of food and feature a puzzle similar to what you might see with the feeder bowls above. However, they’re not designed to take the place of your dog’s regular bowl and are intended to be used on top of your dog’s normal meal time. As your dog becomes accustomed to, and maybe even grows to love, their food puzzle toy, they might warm up to the idea of a slow feeder bowl.
If you don’t want to drop extra cash on a feeder bowl that you think your dog will just reject, try the concept out on them using some handy household items. Try putting their food in a muffin pan or scattering it across a cookie sheet. This will make it harder for your dog to scarf it down at once.
Other Ways to Get Your Dog to Slow Down
Looking for other ways to get your dog to stop scarfing food down? Try one of these remedies…
Hand-feed your dog
Okay, so it might not be the best option, but it is a solution sometimes. If you’re having trouble getting your dog to slow down any other way, you might want to give hand feeding a go.
Put something large in your dog’s bowl
While there are items specifically designed for this (they’re called portion pacers), you don’t need to buy anything fancy to get the same effect. Just place something large and movable in your dog’s bowl (think a ball), along with their food. They’ll be forced to nudge it around as they eat, so they can’t access all the food easily.
Break up their meals
Consider also breaking up your dog’s meals into several portions. Then, place those portions in different rooms around your home. They won’t be able to eat everything at once and have to take short breaks every few bites.
Make Your Dog’s Mealtime Safer and More Satisfying
With a slow feeder dog bowl, you’re not just ensuring your pup avoids the many dangers of quick eating. You’re also giving them a fun, stimulating experience with each meal. If you’ve noticed your dog fast eating in a few seconds flat, you won’t want to wait to add one of these slow feeders to your furry friend’s life.
You might also be interested in: The 15 Best Long Lasting Dog Chews For Extreme Chewers
The Best 7 Slow Feeder Dog Bowls:
- Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo Bowl
- Neater Pet Brands Slow Feeder
- Jasgood Slow Eating Dog Feeder
- Leashboss Flat Face Tilted Slow Feed Bowl
- Dogit Slow Feed Dog Bowl
- Mr. Peanut’s Stainless Steel Interactive Slow Feeder Dog Bowl
- Northmate Interactive Feeder