Have you heard of gulping?
Does your dog wolf down their food so fast that you worry that they're going to choke? Your concerns are not unfounded. Although some dogs skate by without a problem, eating too quickly can result in gastric distress, vomiting, and even bloat in some breeds, like Great Danes.
Unfortunately, you cannot simply tell your dog about the dangers in hopes that they’ll change their ways. But you can use any of the following tactics to keep them from gulping down each meal with reckless abandon.
What is gulping in dogs?
Gulping in dogs refers to the action of swallowing air in a rapid and exaggerated manner. This can be seen as a sudden, loud, and repetitive sound of the dog swallowing without having any food or water present. Sometimes, it may also appear as if the dog is making a gagging or choking motion.
Gulping can be a normal behavior in dogs, especially after exercising or playing vigorously. However, it can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as gastrointestinal problems, acid reflux, or bloating. In some cases, dogs may gulp excessively due to anxiety, stress, or excitement.
If you notice that your dog is gulping frequently or excessively, it's important to observe their behavior and look out for other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite. If you are concerned about your dog's gulping behavior, it's best to consult with a veterinarian who can help diagnose and treat any underlying medical issues.
So, What can I do to slow down my dog's gulping?
Slow Feeder Bowls
Whether commercial models or DIY, slow feeder bowls prevent your pup from taking big mouthfuls of dog food. Instead, they have to work around the obstacles with their tongue and scoop up the kibble or wet food bit by bit. You can find many commercial slow feeder bowl styles online and at local pet stores, including ones with mazes in the center. If you’d like to make your own, just flip a smaller bowl upside down and put it in the center of the main bowl.
Dog Food Puzzle
Using a dog food puzzle at mealtimes helps get your pooch thinking through every bite. They’ll have to figure out how to push the levers to open the doors or otherwise release the delicious morsels waiting inside. By the end of the puzzle, they’ll not only have a full belly but feel tired out from all that deep thinking. So, it’s a win-win for everyone.
Interactive toys, like the KONG Wobbler, let your dog go on the move while working all the kibble out of the center. They will need to rock and roll the toy to guide the food out of the small hole, making it impossible to gulp it all down at once. Some dogs quickly figure out how to smash the toys open, so plan to supervise this activity each mealtime.
Spread It Out
Your dog cannot scarf down their food ultra-fast if it’s not all in a pile. So, to avoid that, all you have to do is spread it out. You can hold the food with a food tray, cookie sheet, or even a floor mat. Spread the kibble out evenly to keep your dog licking up the pieces separately instead of taking huge bites and swallowing them whole.
Scatter feeding is a surefire way to keep dogs from eating their food too fast and getting a bellyache. All you have to do is toss the kibble onto a shag rug or short grass and let your dog sniff it all out. Their highly tuned sense of smell will lead them to every last bit, just as long as they have enough time to complete the search.
Feed More Often
If your dog feels ravenous at every mealtime, they may need to eat more often. You shouldn’t double up their food, though. Instead, split up their daily ration into three to four mealtimes to give them a little bit here and there. Since you’re not feeding them a huge amount at each meal, there won’t be enough to cause a bellyache, even if they do scarf it down.
Just Add Water
Sometimes, just adding water does the trick in keeping your dog from gobbling down every meal. The water turns kibble into wet food like magic and helps protect your dog from dehydration. You only need to add enough water to float the kibble off the bottom to make a big difference in how fast your dog eats.
If you have time, hand-feeding your dog is a great way to slow down their eating and strengthen your bond. You can simply give them their kibble piece by piece as you go about your day. Or use the kibble as your training treats to keep your dog working on their obedience and fun tricks. Use a treat bag to hold their daily ration of kibble to easily carry it with you and dole out their food as you see fit.
You may have to go through some trial and error to find what works for you and your dog. Once you have a few tricks available, rotate through them to keep things feeling fresh and new. Your dog will love seeing just how you roll out all their meals while staying safe from bloat, gastric distress, and other issues caused by gulping down their food.
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