What should you do when your dog doesn’t chew food in his bowl, swallows too quickly and sometimes even ends up throwing up?
Unfortunately there is no miracle solution but only common sense, patience and trial and error to determine what works or not with your dog, keeping an open mind and not stick to preconceived ideas.
My dog doesn’t chew food: the risks
A dog that eats too quickly runs several potentially serious risks:
Risk of dental problems as the dog’s dentition is not “cleaned” by the friction of the croquettes.
Risks of vomiting or even a stomach upset as your dog swallows too much at once and his stomach cannot keep up. In the first case, he risks heartburn. In the second case, it is a veterinary emergency where every minute counts. To put it simply, the overloaded stomach pocket turns around, thus blocking the entry and exit, the stomach swells and hardens. Without surgery, death is guaranteed!
My dog doesn’t chew food: testing is key!
Look at the size of the kibble, is it the right size for YOUR dog? The right decision is not necessarily to choose a large kibble for a large dog, and vice versa. If your dog “sucks” his food, are you sure a large kibble is best? What if it didn’t change anything? Worse, if he choked?
Best is to do your own test with your dog. Make your own opinion, do not fall for the major kibble brands and their marketing scripts. A small kibble may not be chewed and it will not “clean” the dog’s teeth, but if it helps the stomach to work properly it maybe the best option?
Find the ideal height for the bowl so that your dog eats less quickly. Often times, large dogs are more comfortable if they eat from a bowl on raised support. It’s a good thing for their cervical spine area. On the other hand, nature has not designed our dogs to eat at this height … What if, by making eating too easy, you encourage your dog to eat too quickly? Obviously, a calm dog can eat at height without problem. But wouldn’t a nervous dog, as big as it is, have an interest in being “uncomfortable” to eat and be forced to “slow down”?
You should test both approaches (bowl on the ground or at the level of the dog) and see if it changes anything.
The last test we recommend which does not work on all dogs generally works really is to use the food bowl to control your dog at meal time. First drop the food bowl. If your dog is rushing at it and will clearly suck up the food, take it back without saying anything. Wait for the dog to calm down (it may take time, but it’s worth it!), then try again.
You should repeat the process until your dog understands. When you take back the bowl you add a gentle command such as “calm down”, “easy”, etc.. Do not push the exercise to a point where you will scare your dog away from the food bowl. The process would turn into a total failure!
My dog doesn’t chew food: use a slow-feeding bowl
The use of a slow-feeding bowl can also be an interesting way to solve the problem. There are dog food bowls which are specially designed to help your dog not swallow his kibble too quickly.
Not only can slow-feeding bowls help your dog chew its food better and considerably improve digestion, resulting in less bloating, less gas, less regurgitation, choking, and better gut health but they also mentally stimulate your dog. Mental exercise is an important, but often overlooked, way to help a puppy grow healthy and balanced.
Slow-feeding bowls can increase the time to eat by 10 while keeping your dog mentally active.
There is now a large selection of bowls with different sizes, materials and designs so choosing the best slow feeding bowl for your canine companion can be a daunting task. After all, you are looking for something that would specifically suit the needs of your own dog.
What you should look for first is something that is effective, safe and durable. Here are the 3 criteria to consider to make the best choice:
Slow-feeding bowl types
The way the dog bowl is designed is something you should really look at before making a choice. The ideal design will make your canine friend work to finish his kibble and thus slow down the food. You should make sure you opt for a non-slip bowl, as the lighter weight of these bowls can allow your pet to tip it over easily.
The most common model is the bowl with the shape of a puzzle or labyrinth with a low profile and a non-slip bottom (usually made of plastic). Non-metallic bowls have interesting patterns. For more difficulty, orient yourself towards one of these models with a labyrinth shape which obliges the dog to move food towards the center of the bowl to catch them.
The metal bowls are generally less complex in shape with a dome in the middle, or small columns to create kibble compartments and they are generally better suited to large dogs.
Another popular model is the carpet shape, most commonly made in silicone. The bowl looks more like a sort of carpet filled with grass-like obstacles on which the dog must work with his nose. This model is strongly inspired by the way a dog would eat food outside. The only drawback to this design is that the side edges may not be able to prevent some kibble from overflowing on the floor.
The difficulty level of most bowls is often very similar, so new shapes and different puzzles pose a new challenge for dogs. If your dog becomes good with a particular form of puzzle, consider swapping it for a different type and it will bring your dog a new challenge.
My dog doesn’t chew food – 3 important rules to follow
If your dog doesn’t chew food at meal time there many tricks available to solve the problem. In all cases it’s important to follow the following rules:
1) Split meals as many times in the day as you can. The volume of food eaten too quickly at once will be less traumatic for the digestive system of your dog
2) Limit the activity level; of your dog an hour before and after the meal (at least). This will minimize the risk of stomach upset or other digestive issues.
3) Create a stress free setting at meal time. Make sure the surroundings are quiet and no other animals are circling around. It’s important that your dog does not get excited by outside elements so it can have a peaceful meal.