Help! My dog eats too fast!
A good friend recently asked how to get her dog to slow down when he's eating. This is quite common because dogs are primal and opportunistic in nature. They don't rationally think that another meal will be coming. Most dogs don't have a problem with eating too fast or eating too much (yeah right, Norma), but if your dog had to compete for food as a puppy, or for any reason, you may have a serial 'scarfer' on your hands.
Why is this a concern? When dogs inhale their food they're literally inhaling and getting air in their stomach. This air in their stomach can cause bloat which can lead death. Here is a great article by the ASPCA about bloat.
What can you do?
My favorite interactive toys are the Kong and Premier's Kibble Nibble. Toys like these require the dog to move it around and get small amounts of kibble out at a time. It makes for a fun dinner time and slows down ingestion. I think this is the way dogs should always be eating... But that's a subject for another day.
This one seems a little daunting, but if your dog is toy possessive this will help slow down the scarfer and strengthen the human/food interaction. You can either give your dog a handful of food at a time or put a handful of food in their bowl. This makes your dog look to you for more food and having your hand near the food bowl a good experience. The hand = good things.
A speciality bowl.
If you don't have time for handing feeding, you can purchase a specialty bowl. Here, here, AND here. These bowls have sections where the dog has to put more effort to get the food out. (You could do tips 2&3 together! Or not...) DIY: put a big ball or rock in the middle of the bowl so the dog has to maneuver around it to get the food. Not as effective, but worth a try if you're on a budget.
I hope this helps tame the serial scarfer in your life!