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Slow feeder dog bowls are designed to prevent your dog from eating too quickly, which can cause various health concerns. Dog bowl slow feeders come in different designs to force dogs to slow down their eating by either solving puzzles or finding their way around the obstructions built into the bowl. There are also dog slow feeder inserts, which you can put into almost any existing bowl, to slow down their eating.
Dog slow feeders can be beneficial for dogs who eat too quickly because they're more prone to bloat, a condition that can be fatal. In addition, some dogs may experience vomiting after eating too quickly. Slow feeders prevent dogs from experiencing GI issues like gas, nausea, and vomiting from eating too fast, and they can be life-saving tools for dogs prone to bloat.
- Benefits Of Slow Feeder Dog Bowls
- Drawbacks Of Slow Feeder Dog Bowls
- How Do I Know If My Dog Needs A Slow Feeder Bowl?
- Other Ways To Manage Weight & Digestive Issues
- Final Notes
Benefits Of Slow Feeder Dog Bowls
Eating too quickly can be dangerous for dogs, especially large breeds. When eating too quickly, dogs swallow more air, potentially leading to gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat. Bloating occurs when the stomach fills with air. However, that air can build pressure and prevent blood from properly circulating and returning to the heart, potentially sending the dog into shock.1 The stomach also flips in dogs with bloat, further preventing proper blood flow and allowing the pancreas to produce toxic hormones.1 Unfortunately, fast eaters are more at risk of developing bloat than slow eaters, but you can help prevent bloat in dogs by providing them with a slow feeder dog bowl.
Slow feeder dog bowls have additional benefits, including:
- Reduces choking hazard: Slowing your dog's eating allows them more time to chew their food. As you may already know, if you have a fast eater, dogs tend to do little chewing when they're excited to eat. However, a slow feeder forces them to work their way around the bowl to get to their food, giving them more time to chew before swallowing to reduce their chances of choking.
- Improves digestion: These dog bowls for fast eaters can improve your dog's digestion by letting the stomach slowly fill up instead of quickly, which can lead to vomiting. Some dogs vomit after eating when they eat too fast because their stomach doesn't have enough time to digest their food before they begin adding more. Slow feeder dog bowls can slow your dog's eating to allow enough time for their digestive processes to absorb the nutrients they need while preventing uncomfortable symptoms like nausea or vomiting.
- Improves portion control: Slow feeder bowls can't prevent you from feeding your dog too much, but they can prevent the dog from eating too much. Many dogs will stop eating when they're full, so the slower they eat, the more time your dog will have to realize they're full because it takes time for the stomach to signal fullness to the brain. But, of course, some dogs love food and may not stop eating when they're full, so it's up to you, as the pet parent, to ensure you're feeding them the proper amount.
- Mental stimulation: Slow feeder bowls require your dog to think about their next move. Because they can't eat all their food at once, they'll have to navigate a puzzle or different obstructions in the bowl to eat every last bite. Puzzles like slow feeders provide dogs with mental stimulation, which can help high-energy dogs stay calmer throughout the day and reduce boredom while providing them with several other health benefits.
Drawbacks Of Slow Feeder Dog Bowls
Of course, not every dog bowl is perfect, and slow feeders aren't right for every dog. Because slow feeders are a kind of puzzle, there's a learning curve, especially in the early stages. They might be confused when introducing your slow feeder to your dog. Of course, it's best to start slow and find a slow feeder that your dog can use immediately. However, the better your dog solves the puzzle, you may need to upgrade to a more difficult pattern to keep their eating slow. Other drawbacks of slow feeder dog bowls include the following:
- Dogs may refuse to use it: Some dogs refuse to use slow feeder bowls because they're too complicated. For example, since dogs want to eat their food instead of solving a puzzle, they may flip their bowls onto the floor instead of solving the puzzle. In addition, some dogs may have difficulty using slow feeder dog bowls. For example, brachycephalic dogs may not be able to use a slow feeder because it has tight nooks and crannies that make it difficult for them to reach their food.
- Made of plastic: Many slow eating dog bowls are made of plastic, which means a large or enthusiastic dog may easily destroy it if they put it in their mouth. In addition, if your dog bites at the obstructions in the bowl that form the puzzle, they may break off and pose a choking hazard. You can combat this problem by using stainless steel slow feeders instead of plastic, especially if your dog is prone to destroying their toys.
- Cleaning: Cleaning slow feeders is more challenging than regular dog food bowls because they have obstructions and corners that can attract small food particles that get stuck. The harder the slow feeder puzzle, the more difficult it will be to clean. However, you can purchase a dishwasher-safe dog bowl to ensure the bowl gets sterilized and cleaned properly.
How Do I Know If My Dog Needs A Slow Feeder Bowl?
There are several signs your dog may benefit from a slow feeder, including the following:
- Weight gain: Dogs that eat too quickly may be prone to weight gain because they overeat before realizing they're full. It takes time for the brain and stomach to communicate, so your dog might eat too quickly without giving the brain enough time to realize the stomach is full. Of course, you can prevent weight gain by only feeding your dog the right amount of food during feeding times and monitoring their calorie intake throughout the day. A slow feeder can't help your dog lose weight if you regularly overfeed them.
- Digestive issues: There are several common causes of digestive problems in dogs, ranging from food allergies to anxiety. However, if your dog overeats and experiences gas, it may indicate that they need to slow down their eating.
- Vomiting after eating: When dogs eat too quickly, they swallow more air and don't have enough time to thoroughly chew their food, making their stomach work harder to break down kibble. Both air and undigested kibble can cause nausea and make your dog vomit.
- Has experienced bloat before: While bloat is fatal, many dogs have survived and lived long, healthy lives after suffering from it in the past. However, if your dog has recently recovered from bloat, it's best to try to prevent it from recurring. One potential cause of bloat could be fast eating, so you might want to try slowing down your dog's eating with a slow feeder bowl. Of course, it's important to note that there are several risk factors for bloat in dogs, so a slow feeder might not be enough to prevent it, especially in large breeds prone to the condition.
If you're wondering whether a slow feeder for dogs is right for your pup, consult your vet. Whether or not a slow feeder works to slow down your dog's eating depends on their health and temperament. Remember, some dogs won't use them, which could prevent them from eating altogether. Your vet can also provide advice on dog bowls for fast eaters and other tips to slow down your dog's eating, especially if they're experiencing anxiety or territorial behavior that might cause them to eat quickly.
Other Ways To Manage Weight & Digestive Issues
While a slow feeder bowl can help prevent weight gain and digestive issues, they're not the only solution. Slow feeders are designed for fast eaters, but even slow eaters can experience GI issues. One of the main causes of digestive problems in dogs is the food quality and the amount of food a dog eats, which can also lead to weight gain. A high-quality diet is essential for your dog's health, but if you're feeding them low-quality dog food, they might be prone to digestive issues.
In addition, you should pay attention to how much you feed your dog. Overfeeding your dog can lead to weight gain and associated health problems like diabetes. Therefore, you should know how much to feed your dog each day depending on their age, weight, and lifestyle. For example, more active dogs will eat more than couch potatoes.
If you're unsure what type of food to feed your dog or how much to feed them daily, consult a Dutch vet. We can provide diet and nutrition advice to ensure your dog eats high-quality food to support their health while devising a diet plan to prevent weight gain or aid in weight loss.
Are slow feeders frustrating for dogs?
Slow feeders can be frustrating for some dogs, especially those with short snouts that might not be able to navigate around the puzzle. In addition, some breeds may not be able to access the food, while others will become frustrated by them even if they can access the food. Some slow feeders can also cause discomfort and increase stress and anxiety, so it's essential to monitor your dog when trying slow feeders for the first time.
What can I put in my dog's bowl to slow down eating?
The easiest way to slow your dog's eating is by feeding them smaller, more frequent meals. You don't have to put anything new in your dog's bowl, especially something that may cause a choking hazard. Instead, consider consulting your vet or trying smaller meals to prevent your dog from eating too quickly. You can also try slow feeder inserts designed for various dog bowl shapes. However, your dog can easily take these out and chew on them, so you should monitor them when eating.
If your dog runs to their bowl during mealtimes and starts scarfing down their food, they may benefit from a slow feeder to prevent bloat and other digestive symptoms. Of course, not all dogs need slow feeder bowls, but they can make it easier to monitor what your dog eats. In addition, you should address potential causes for your dog's quick eating. For example, dogs in multi-dog households may eat quickly to prevent other dogs from eating their food. In this case, you may have to separate dogs during mealtimes to prevent territorial behavior and fast eating.
Unfortunately, while slow feeder dog bowls can be beneficial for preventing bloat, weight gain, and other digestive issues caused by eating too fast, other factors may affect your dog's digestive health. Talk to a Dutch vet if you're worried about your dog's fast eating or if your dog is experiencing digestive issues. We can help diagnose, treat, and manage digestive problems to prevent uncomfortable symptoms and allow your dog to enjoy their food.
Grognet, Dr. Jeff. "Bloat (or GDV) in Dogs: What Is It and How Is It Treated?" American Kennel Club, 27 Oct. 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/bloat-in-dogs/.