HOW TO GET YOUR PET TO EAT SLOWER AND ACTUALLY CHEW THEIR FOOD
Dr Julie Schell BSc(Hons), DVM, CVA, CVCHM, CVC
Often dogs love their food so much that they quickly devour each morsel in seemingly two or three gulps. Then, they may promptly vomit the food because their stomach was not ready for such a dramatic, sudden change in size. Their digestive processes don’t get a chance to start preparing and working properly, and their satiety centre in their brain does not get a chance to feel satisfied.
This gulping habit hinders the quality of the dog’s life. Sometimes cats even portray this strange binge and purge ritual. There are ways to help your pet overcome this bad habit.
First, have your pet examined by your veterinarian to determine if there are any gastrointestinal parasites, food allergies/sensitivities, foreign bodies, or inflammatory bowel, pancreatitis or other digestive diseases present. The type of food chosen to feed your pet is also very important. Sometimes pets only do well on home cooked food (such as www.completeandbalanced.com) or hypoallergenic or low residue types of foods. Your veterinarian can help choose the ideal food for your pet’s needs. Regular de-worming (monthly for dogs and cats who go outside) is important year round.
If you and your veterinarian have worked to rule in/out and treat any health concerns, yet your pet still eats their whole meal in less than a minute, there are other alternatives to consider. Helping your pet slow down their food consumption will improve their digestion, feeling of fullness and comfort, which will make eating more pleasurable and healthy for your pet.
- Spread the food out onto a cookie sheet with toys intermingled. This should help slow down the eating so that they will not binge then vomit.
- Offer smaller, more frequent meals. For example, instead of feeding two large meals, feed three to five smaller meals throughout the day. An automatic feeder helps make this easier if you are feeding dry food.
- Change to at least 50% canned/wet food- ask your veterinarian about the best food for your pet.
- Place the meals inside of a treat ball or a feeding maze. Check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I46cXCkiEoA
- Feed his meal in an elevated feeder- ask your veterinarian how high the feeder should be. It improves the comfort ergonomically while the pet eats. It can decrease anxiety and arthritis issues that some pets have by eating from bowls on the floor
- Hand feed your pet one or a few kibbles at a time or 1 teaspoon of wet food at a time.
- Try throwing each kibble down the hallway for your pet to chase, then eat it one at a time. This definitely slows down eating times!
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