General Question

Fathdris's avatar

How do you stop your dog from scoffing down their dinner?

Asked by Fathdris (219points) July 15th, 2015

I have a Labradore puppy that is roughly year and a half old.

Every night she gets a decent size dinner… and every night, she scoffs it down faster than a speeding bullet. Half way through her dinner, we hear her choking on it and we have to go and help her.

She has no competition for her meals. I’m starting to get worried that she’ll hurt herself one day. Is there a way to get her to slow down and stop being in a rush to eat?


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24 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

How often do you feed her?

janbb's avatar

You can put her food in her bowl a little at a time which is also good training against food guarding.

kritiper's avatar

You don’t. It’s instinct. In the wild, animals have to eat all they can, as fast as they can or they may miss out. Also, leaving food available is not a bad thing. It allows the dog to eat whenever it wants. Doing this, my dog didn’t wolf down his food. He ate whenever he felt like it.

keobooks's avatar

I have a cat with this problem. We’ve resorted to just feeding her tiny portions several times a day. It’s a pain, but she’s been like this ever since my daughter was born. I think it made her nervous and gorging on food is one way cats and dogs show their anxiety.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Feed twice a day, add some liquid like water to the bowl if you are feeding dry food. “Wolfing down” food is normal for most dogs. We feed twice a day and have two Lab – German Shepard crosses that eat quickly but not to the point of choking.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, it sounds like once a day isn’t enough. Obviously he’s ravenous by the time dinner comes. We all tend to scarf our food when we’re really, super hungry.

I have always made my dog’s food available to them, 24/7. We just fill their bowls up when they’re empty. The cat has a self filling feeder thing that holds a 5 lb sack of food, so she has food available 24/7. I have never had an overweight dog or cat.

If he has food available all the time, I bet he stops worrying about it and slows down and starts eating a little at a time, throughout the day.

Fathdris's avatar

The trouble with leaving food always available to her is that my dog would eat 24/7 if we let her… She’s the very definition of a bottom-less pit. Which I’m pretty sure is just as dangerous as choking on food.

janbb's avatar

Most trainers do not recommend leaving food out for dogs but you might try going to a twice a day schedule and/or putting the food in a little at a time.

Dutchess_III's avatar

How do you know she would, @Fathdris? I’m sure she would in the beginning because of what she is used to, but have you tried leaving food out 24/7 for about 2 weeks?

Yeah, I don’t know about “most trainers” @janbb. None of the dogs or cats I’ve ever had had any problem regulating themselves, including the two labs we had at one time.
Well, for a while there Rick was insisting on giving them dog treats for some reason, and they started getting fat, until he finally quit and they went back to normal weight.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with @kritiper Dogs naturally wolf down their food a lot of the time.
You can split her meal into smaller portions spread out by a few hours but otherwise, she isn;t going to die or anything. She may have had a lot of competition with her litter mates as a weanling puppy and so still feels the need to eat extra fast too. Most of the time when an animal of any kind has had food deprivation or heavy competition they tend to be food dominant.

I had a horse like this years ago that had been rescued from a less than great situation where she was at the low end of the pecking order and had to compete for her feed. She was very good natured but had to be the first one let in the barn and locked in her stall before feeding time or she would go nuts bucking and kicking and trying to defend her feed from the other three horses.

snowberry's avatar

Go to a pet store and get one of these.
Our dog wolfs her food too. It has nothing to do with anything other than her personality. She never does ANYTHING slowly.

Anyway, just fill it up with small kibble (enough for a meal), and put it down on the floor. The dog rolls it around and the kibble dribbles out slowly. It takes her maybe 3 minutes or so to eat compared to the 30 seconds it would take eating from a dish. Oh, and she loves LOVES her treat ball. To prevent mess from food oils and crumbs getting on the carpet I put it in a dishpan and she rolls it around in there.

Our vet was delighted to learn that I came up with this solution on my own. She said our dog would make herself sick eating as fast as she does normally.

They make a kibble that’s a size suitable both for large and small dogs. I buy that kind.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What a cool answer, @snowberry!

I still think you might want to feed her two smaller meals a day, rather than just one large one.

snowberry's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yep, we do. And an hour before dinner time, she always insists her stomach is eating her backbone. Liar!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Not you, @snowberry. I was talking to the OP.

bossob's avatar

Some dogs are picky eaters, and can be free fed, while some breeds are always ravenous and will turn into blimps in a heartbeat if free fed.

I’d start with trying a small breakfast in addition to dinner.

@Tropical_Willie mentioned adding liquid, water if calories are a concern, to dry food. It slows them down, and aids digestion.

For some dogs, we put about 18 inches of ¼ or 5/16 inch chain in their dish. (non-galvanized). The chain makes it harder for them to inhale their food, and it slows them down as they have to move the chain around to get all the food.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

You can’t. I had two goldens. One was a monster, jamming his nose into his dish. The other was a lover, she always wanted to be petted until he finished with his meal, then she would eat. He never choked though.

josie's avatar

I wouldn’t worry about it. Some dog breeds are just that way.

syz's avatar

You get her a bloat bowl. (You can also add a large rock or brick to the bowl, just make sure that it’s too large to swallow.) Having to eat around the obstacles slows them down.

I would also recommend feeding twice a day; once ever 24 hours is a damn hungry dog (my dogs vomit bile from ‘acid stomach’ when they’re empty too long, too).

Dogs that bolt their food (which Labradors are infamous for) are prone to GDV, or gastric dilatation-volvulous, a life threatening condition. We see several cases a week at the emergency clinic; without emergency surgery, it’s fatal.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@syz We lost our St Bernard to bloat that caused cardiac failure. I’m thinking stomach problems, no big deal. Guess who was wrong?

Coloma's avatar

Good point @syz makes. The bigger hound breeds like Blood hounds are prone to bloat too.

Pandora's avatar

My daughter got her dog this bowl. Eventually your dog will learn to eat slower in a regular bowl once they get kind of bored with the same food. In the mean time the bowl in the link does work. Her dog would really scoff things down and sometimes gag.
There are others like it too.
Spoke to soon. Found it, Outward Hound
I had one for treats that was 3 tier star shape. The dog eventually learns to move each tier and look for the treats in each point. I would just put like 4 tiny treats and have him hunt for it. I don’t see the star one in the link though.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Good answers all. But I still vote for @snowberry‘s answer

longgone's avatar

I have two Labradors, and I was dealing with the same issues when I used to feed them from a bowl. I’ve stopped that now. They get their food either stuffed into Kongs or puzzle balls, or for working with me. This has stopped the anxious paw-licking my girl was doing for a while, it helps keeps them interested and attentive, and it stops them from eating in a rush.

EDIT: If she is already needing help while eating, you are very right to be concerned. Pay special attention to what @syz said.

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