When your puppy or adult dog eats too fast, she may vomit from overeating, choke on dry food or bloat from gastric pressure. The American Kennel Club recommends having your dog checked for underlying medical conditions and then, after she has a clean bill of health, modifying her behavior. Because each dog is different, no single, sure-fire method works for all dogs. If one method does not slow your dog’s eating behavior, try another until you find the right solution.
Divide one daily meal into two or three portions. When she is over-eager for the main meal, she wolfs it down without hesitation. Try giving her one portion, wait several minutes, then give her another portion, wait again and give her the last portion.
Feed more often. Split the day’s kibble into two or three meals so that she does not get too hungry at mealtime. Puppies and older dogs especially benefit with several small meals a day that they can digest more easily than one large meal. If you are away in the daytime, you may prefer an automatic feeder that gives her small amounts of food at specified intervals.
Feed your dog alone. If she is gulping her food to finish it before other dogs get it, feeding her in another room can reduce her mealtime stress. Keep mealtime quiet when family excitement and noise can cause her to bolt food.
Put a large rubber ball or a tennis ball in her kibble bowl. The ball rolls as she eats, forcing her to eat around the ball or nose it aside to reach the kibble. She is forced to eat more slowly. Some dog suppliers offer dishwasher-safe balls that fit in the food bowl or water bowl to slow down dogs that eat food or drink water too fast.
Use a bowl designed to slow her eating. Some bowls are molded with knobs or bumps in the bottom so that she must eat around them to reach the kibble. She takes smaller bites and focuses on finding the kibble between the obstacles.
Turn her bowl upside down. Use a stainless bowl with a channel around the bowl, turn the bowl over and pour kibble in the channel. She must work her way around the circle to get her food.
Make the kibble harder to eat. Scatter kibble on a cookie sheet so that she must hunt for her food, chasing it across the pan a piece at a time.
Portion her food into a kibble ball or treat cube. She plays as she paws and noses the toy for food, then must backtrack to find stray morsels. Even the fastest eater slows down with a kibble ball.
Play with her food. Dog puzzles require her to wobble, nuzzle, nose or paw at the puzzle to get the kibble. If your dog is too frustrated, keep the puzzle for playtime and not as a meal dispenser.