Certain dogs and cats will always eat as if they’re ravenous. People tend to put it off as “maybe they were hungry as a puppy or kitten.” But what does an overly zealous appetite mean and what can you do to slow your pet down at the bowl?
Why do pets sometimes eat fast?
For starters, some pets have insatiable appetites due to a metabolic issue. A thorough exam by your vet is a great place to start, particularly if this is a change from their normal eating pattern. Make sure you fill your vet in on your pet’s eating habits so they can check for any underlying issues. Also review any medications your pet is taking as an increased appetite can be a side effect for some medications. There are a number of possible medical causes, some as simple and easily treated as intestinal parasites, while others might require bloodwork and a bit more of a work-up to sort them out.
Can eating too quickly cause problems?
On the other hand, eating too quickly can cause medical problems. When your pet gulps food, they are more likely to choke or regurgitate the food back up. They also likely gulp in large amounts of air that can travel down to their stomach. Certain dog breeds and body shapes are more prone to serious conditions such as Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (or GDV) that are more common in pets that gulp down food.
What can I do to slow down my pet during mealtime?
Once you’re sure the issue is behavioral rather than medical, you can try a few tricks to slow down your pet’s eating. Smaller meals fed more frequently will allow them to feel full throughout the day. You can also look at the type of food you’re feeding. Some recipes contain more calories per cup, so their serving size is smaller than less caloric food. A food with fewer calories per serving or higher fiber might allow your pet to eat more food and, as a result, feel more satisfied. Double check the amount of food your pet should be getting each day to ensure you’re feeding enough and feed a high-quality diet that’s complete and balanced for your pet’s life stage.
Specialized bowls and food-dispensing toys are available that help slow your pet’s eating. They contain mazes or puzzles that make your pet work to get each piece of food so it takes longer to eat. You can also spread dry kibble out on the floor or on a cookie sheet, or you can put it in the slots of a muffin tin. For a cat that likes to forage for food, you can hide small meals around the house for them to find. And if you have time, you can hand-feed bites of food, possibly as a reward for tricks your pet performs. Working for food will slow down your pet and give them a mental challenge to boot!
Adding a large rock or two to the food bowl can provide obstacles to slow a pet’s eating down. Just be sure the rocks are much larger than your pet’s mouth. If they are extra excited about mealtime, they may try to eat the rocks too! This can lead to dental injuries and even blockages in the digestive tract.
Finally, watch out for pets in the house that might be secretly eating the other pet’s food. Your speed-eating pet may be eating quickly so other animals won’t steal their meal! If this is the case, feed them separately so everyone gets their fair share of food. Then everyone can take time to savor their meal without peer pressure to eat faster.
Still have questions?
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