Is your dog eating too fast? Do they gobble down their food in about ten seconds without even chewing it? Do they develop problems such as vomiting, upset stomach, or excess gas shortly after eating?If so, you are probably concerned and rightly so.Eating too fast can be an unhealthy habit. But, there are some effective solutions to help your dog slow down.
Why Does Eating Too Fast Cause Problems?
When a dog eats too fast, they take in large amounts of air along with their food. This can lead to an upset stomach and digestive problems. Does your dog have excess gas shortly after eating? Interestingly, the most common cause of gas is swallowing large amounts of air while gulping food. Vomiting and indigestion are some other minor problems that a dog may experience from eating too fast.The best way to solve these problems is to reduce your dog’s air intake by slowing him down.
Why should your dog eating to fast be dangerous?
Not necessarily. But, rapid eating is one of the risk factors associated with a painful, life threatening condition called Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) or gastric bloat.
What is Gastric bloat?
It is a condition in which the stomach fills with excess air (dilatation) causing pressure on the diaphragm and other organs which makes it difficult for an affected dog to breath. A bloated stomach can easily rotate or twist (volvulus) cutting off the blood supply to the abdomen. Immediate medical attention is necessary because a dog’s condition can deteriorate rapidly resulting in death within several hours.
Does rapid eating cause bloat?
GDV is a complex condition which researchers are still trying to understand. The exact cause has not been determined. But, some studies suggest that bloat occurs due to a build up of swallowed air in the stomach which an affected dog is unable to release.
Some studies suggest that the faster a dog eats, the greater the risk of bloat. The increased risk may be related to the gulping of air while eating. But, don’t panic! Just because your dog eats too fast does not mean that they will bloat. While your dog eating too fast may contribute to the chance of bloat, it is has not been identified as the cause.
As a matter of fact, no single activity or combination of activities has been identified as the cause of bloat and unfortunately, it is impossible to predict whether or not an individual dog will bloat. But studies have revealed specific characteristics and environmental situations which appear to make a dog more susceptible to GDV. Simply put, some dogs are at higher risk than others. Therefore, it is important to understand your dog’s risk and then take appropriate steps to minimize that risk.
Is Your Dog at Risk? Consider the following findings:
- GDV can happen to any dog. But, it rarely occurs in small dogs. It is known to primarily affect large-breed dogs (50-99 pounds) and giant-breed dogs (100 pounds and over). The Great Dane is at highest risk and according to the Great Dane Club of America, GDV is the number one cause of death.
- Breeds that have a deeper and narrower chest such as the Basset Hound are also at higher risk. It appears that a dog’s chest / abdomen conformation may have more to do with the development of GDV than a dog’s weight. Within a single breed, dogs with a deep narrow chest are more likely to develop GDV than those with a deep wide chest.
- Dogs with a highly anxious and fearful or unhappy temperament appear to be more prone to bloat especially when under stress.
- Bloat can occur at any age but is more common in older dogs. Dogs greater than seven years of age are more than twice as likely to have bloat as dogs 2-4 years of age.
- A strong predictor of bloat is having a parent, sibling, or offspring that bloated.
- Dogs that are chronically underweight are at higher risk than dogs of average weight or even overweight.
- Males are twice as likely to bloat as females.
- Fast eaters are at higher risk than slow eaters.
- Dogs who eat one meal a day are almost twice as likely to develop bloat as those fed twice a day.
- It appears that purebred dogs are more likely to develop bloat than mixed breed dogs.
The top ten breeds listed in order of risk are:
- Great Dane
- Saint Bernard
- Irish Setter
- Gordon Setter
- Standard Poodle
- Basset Hound
- Doberman Pinscher
- Old English Sheepdog
- German Shorthaired Pointer
Concerned or Unsure About Your Dog’s Risk?
Then, talk to your breeder. They should be familiar with and knowledgeable of health conditions concerning their breed. Also, it is a good idea to ask if there is a history of bloat in your dog’s lineage. Visit your national breed club’s web site. Breed clubs typically have information on their web sites about health conditions of concern.
Talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s risk of developing GDV and about new research developments.
How Do I Minimize My Dog’s Risk?
If your dog is at risk, then steps that you can take to reduce the likelihood of GDV include:
- Feeding your dog two or three small meals per day at approximately the same time each day instead of one large meal.
- If your dog eats too fast, then find a way to slow him down.
- Avoid vigorous exercise, excitement, and stress 1 hour before eating and 2 hours following eating.
- Feed your dog in a quiet location, away from children and other pets so that he remains calm.
- If you plan to change your dog’s diet, do it gradually over a period of three to five days.
- Talk to your veterinarian about whether or not you should use an elevated feeder.
- Some studies have made a link between the size of food particles, fat content, moistening of foods that contain citric acid, and other factors with bloat.
It may be best to feed a high quality dog food and avoid those with fat in the first four ingredients. Instead, select one that has a rendered meat meal with bone product in the first four ingredients.Unfortunately, the suggestions above do not guarantee non occurrence.
Therefore, be aware of the signs of GDV and seek immediate medical attention if your dog is in distress. Typical symptoms of dog bloat will include frequent retching and attempts to vomit with nothing coming up.
Get your dog to a vet as soon as possible.
- If your dog bloats late in the evening, do not wait until morning to get care!
- Ask your veterinarian about the best place to transport your dog if emergency care is needed.
- Make note of an emergency phone number that you can call (even on off hours) to get immediate treatment for your dog.
- Survivors of bloat are at increased risk of developing it again.
Therefore, discuss with your veterinarian options to reduce the chances of recurrence. Slow feeding can be beneficial to dogs who experience minor health conditions such as vomiting, excess gas, indigestion, and regurgitation shortly after eating. Additionally while rapid eating has been associated with GDV, it is not the cause.But for high risk dogs, slow feeding is a simple step that may help to reduce the chances of this life threatening condition.One way to slow your dog down is by using a special bowl that is specifically designed to slow rapid eating in dogs and there are many examples on the market.