Does your German Shepherd eat their food fast? We guess if you’re reading this then the answer likely is “yes”.
The truth is most dogs love to be fed and many literally get it down as fast as they can. But the good thing is that you can use a few tricks and tips to get yours to slow their eating down.
Eating fast is potentially dangerous. In this post we’ll look a a few of these dangers, why some dogs gulp down their food, and – most importantly – how you can encourage your dog takes time to chew his food before swallowing it.
Just why does your dog eat so fast?
At the heart of every dog’s behavior, there is always a reason and eating fast is no different. Here are some of the reasons that drive your dog to act so ravenously.
Irregular meal times
Remember – dogs are incredible learners and they can spot patterns if certain actions are repeated enough. It’s why we can train them in the first place. The same extends to feeding time.
An irregular feeding schedule creates an impression of scarcity in the dog’s mind. To your dog he’s not always sure when exactly he’s going to get his next feed. He’s not even certain he’ll get fed ever again.
At the slightest chance of food he wants to make sure he’s stuffed as much as possible. You don’t do this to your German shepherd, right?
This is a behavior often found in rescue dogs. Those that have been once in the street tend to be a bit anxious around food due to their past lifestyle. This can dramatically increase the speed of their eating. Not just because they don’t know when their next meal will be but also they may need to eat quickly because of …….
Competing for resources at one point or the other is always bound to happen. It’s part of nature. And what better resource than food?
If your dog grew up with a group of other puppies, it’s very likely they developed a competitive behavior over food. The dog views the food as too little and the others might soon reduce his share.
The same behavior can also develop in adulthood if you own several other dogs.
Also sometimes the urge to compete might develop even when your GSD is the only dog at home. In this case, it views you and any other pets as direct competitors.
Food that isn’t nutritionally sufficient will leave your dog unsatisfied most of the time. So he’s always anticipating the next meal time and quickly gobbles up whatever you have to offer.
Some illnesses can interfere with your dog’s metabolism, leaving them in a constant state of hunger and thirst. This can leave them to devour any bowl of food as fast as they possibly can.
Diabetes and Cushing’s disease are some of the most common ailments that lead to a spike in hunger. Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, might not increase your dog’s appetite but the ensuing treatment can if not administered in the correct dose.
Finally, worms also can catalyze ravenous behavior in your dog. They hog the nutrients that should otherwise be used by your dog which leaves him always feeling hungry.
German Shepherds were bred for herding which means they tend to be quite full of energy. With this energy, comes the need for constant exercise that is beneficial to the dog both physically and mentally.
Without that, your dog will spend most of his time being bored. The only exciting thing will be when he gets to eat so he’ll jump in as fast as he can.
The food is awesome!
Dogs do enjoy a good meal just like us humans. They have their favorite flavors too. So it’s only natural for your canine friend to dig into a bowl of his favorite kibble real fast. It’s just too gratifying to have his taste buds fired up and eat slowly.
But it doesn’t matter if he loves his food too much – eating too fast is still a bad idea.
Reasons why you don’t want your dog to eat so fast
This is an obvious one. Your German Shepherd might bite a slightly larger piece than he can swallow. Or the food might just end up in the wrong tube. Either of them is bad for your dog.
Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)
Also called bloat, it’s by far the worst thing that can happen to a fast-eating dog. It occurs when either the intestines or stomach expands and twists. The chances of this happening increase exponentially when a dog gulps down food quickly.
GDV causes immediate shock to the dog as well as retching and vomiting – with the vomit being foam instead of food.
This is less threatening than GDV. It’s caused by a dog swallowing huge amounts of food which affects digestion. The result is the food just staying in the stomach for long hours without getting digested.
One thing is for sure for a dog that eats fast – he ends up downing not only huge unmanageable chunks of food but also a lot of air. This is not exactly ideal and causes stomach upsets as well as vomiting.
So the big question is: how do you slow down dog eating?
Tips to stop your dog eating too fast
Getting your dog to eat more slowly will depend on why he eats fast in the first place. Does your German Shepherd have an underlying illness? Is the food you’re giving him nutritious enough? Or is he bored from getting little to no exercise?
It’s important to address these issues first before attempting a behavior change. It’ll be of little use trying to get your dog to eat slowly when the other contributing factors are still at play.
Here’s what you can do concerning this:
- Establish a regular feeding schedule if you haven’t already. Your dog will be assured of getting a meal so he wouldn’t need to be in a rush every time you feed him.
- Review the kind of food you’re giving to ensure it’s of the utmost quality. Talk to your vet if you’re not so sure about what you’re feeding your dog.
- Try giving your dog several small meals throughout the day if you can. This reduces hunger pangs considerably.
- Give your German shepherd some exercise sessions. A minimum of 2 hours a day can be recommended for active dogs full of life.
But if you find your dog is generally just a fast eater, here are a few remedies which might help.
Solutions to make your dog eat more slowly:
A simple solution – use a Muffin Pan
We’re sure everyone will have one of these muffin or cake pans at home. All you need to do is drop the food into the individual cups spreading it throughout the whole pan. This may slow your GSD down a bit as they hop from one cup to the next. It’s a cheap and easy way to try first of all.
Slow Feeder Bowls
Food bowls that make dogs eat slower are some of the best remedies for ravenous hounds. You can always grab one from the available options in the market.
You could also make an improvised version at home using two different-sized bowls. All you have to do is invert the smaller bowl over the large and you’ll be good to go. The gap between the two bowls is just enough so your dog reaches the food but not as big as for him to grab on to too much.
Try a Puzzle Feeder and get them guessing.
These are not dissimilar to the muffin pan concept but especially designed for your dog. In the same way, it makes it impossible for your dog to swallow big mouthfuls of food in one go. Either cut the food into smaller pieces so it fits between the gaps or simply pour the kibble into the feeder.
Unlike muffin pans, your dog doesn’t have quite the same easy access, they have to work to get their food just a little bit more.
This can be great if you have enough time to spare. With hand-feeding, you can control both your dog’s eating pace and the size of each bite. But you have to be careful not to encourage bad behavior during these feeding sessions.
Before offering your dog food, make sure your dog is not jumping all over the place or barking at you. Also, ensure they have chewed and swallowed all the food you’ve given them before you give them another handful.
This can be an awesome method if your puppy eats too fast.
Spread the kibble around
Instead of just putting your dog’s food down in one bowl or place consider spreading it around. This way, they won’t gulp down it all down in 10 seconds or less. You can spread it around the house or yard, making your dog takes its time to look for each individual piece and eat it up. Be careful though of attracting vermin – make sure all the food is either eaten or cleared up