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What Should I Do if My Dog Gulps Food?

By: Jeff Noce, Voyce President

Can your dog make a bowl of food magically disappear within seconds of it being placed on the floor? If your pup gobbles his meals in record time, it’s important to take steps to slow him down. Gulping food can result in everything from gagging and vomiting to a more serious and potentially life-threatening condition called bloat.

This behavior can be challenging to overcome. After all, it’s not just a matter of telling your dog to chew his food more slowly. Luckily, there are a number of tools and tricks you can use to turn your fast food junkie into a leisurely diner:

  1. Purchase a special feeding dish.
    If you have a gulper in your house, you’re not alone. In fact, this is such a common issue that several pet product companies have designed slow feed bowls to help tackle the problem. These dishes work like a mini-obstacle course for your pet’s meals, forcing them to work a little harder to get to their food. There are a number of choices on the market but two that receive high ratings are the Outward Hound Fun Feeder and the Ethical Pets Slow Feed Bowl.
  2. Add a tennis ball to his bowl.
    Is a specialized feeder not in your budget right now? You can accomplish almost the same thing with a little creativity and a tennis ball. Place the ball in his bowl and then pour in the food. Because he’ll have to work around the ball, he’ll consume his food much more slowly. For small dogs, use golf balls instead.
  3. Put meals in muffin tins.
    This is another easy one to do with something you probably already have in your home. Divide your dog’s meal among the individual cups in a muffin tin. Your pup will need to take at least a small break between each cup. For a little extra challenge, place balls over several of the cups so that he has to uncover the kibble underneath.
  4. Make him hunt for his food.
    Scientific studies have shown that most animals, when given the choice, would rather work for their food rather than have it handed to them. This is called contrafreeloading, and it’s a great way to slow down your pup while stimulating his brain and hunting instincts. Contrafreeloading is simple. Just scatter food around your kitchen or hide it in different places throughout your house. Make it easy at first until he gets the hang of it and then increase the challenge.
  5. Use a kibble dispenser or puzzle toy.
    Not wild about the idea of spreading food throughout your house? Your dog can still enjoy the benefits of contrafreeloading with kibble dispensers like a Kong Wobbler or a puzzle toy like Nina Ottoson’s DogTwister Game. Not only do they slow your dog down, they’re a lot of fun, too!

I’d like to hear from you! If you have questions you’d like me to address on this blog regarding pet health or behavior, send an email to

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Posted on Mar 27, 2016 by VOYCE Behavior & Training