The Ultimate Guide to Slow Feeding

The Ultimate Guide to Slow Feeding

Bryce & Kenzie Francois

Why?

Naturally, your first question may be "why does my dog need to eat slower?" Well, a few reasons: first, and probably most dangerous, is bloat (or GDV). According to the Veterinary Medical Center of Central New York, GDV (or Gastric Dilation-Volvulus) is a condition in which "a dog's stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid and subsequently twists.  GDV develops without warning and can progress quickly.  It is always an emergency." There are several causes of GDV, but the most common are eating too fast, eating a large quantity of food at once and intense physical exercise shortly after a meal. In this article, we'll tackle the first of those causes, eating too fast.

Paid Options

We were completely overwhelmed by the amount of options for slow-feeding when we got our first dog. Now, after almost four years of owing herding and high-energy breeds, we have tested a lot of them and compiled our two favorite. These are the best paid options for slow-feeding (in our opinion):

- Slow-Feed Bowl

These bowls are generally made of food-grade plastic or metal, have some variation of posts or blocks to make eating more challenging, and come in many different designs. The one we are currently using is the Happy Hunting Bowl, which you can find here.

Downside: plastic doesn't do great with some dogs and it is not inclusive of shorter-snouted dogs like pugs.

- Snuffle Mat

Snuffle mats are fabric mats designed to make your dog forage and search for their food. They often have different types of folds and ruffles to encourage paw and nose use. We make a few different kinds which are available here.

Downside: because it is made of fabric, it must be washed frequently and isn't designed to be chewed or pulled on.

DIY Options

Not looking to spend money? Let's talk DIY. While these slow feeders and puzzle games are great, slow-feeding can be achieved with items you probably already have.

- Bowl w/ a Ball

This method is super simple. All you do is fill their bowl up like normal, and toss a ball or toy in there with it. This will force them to use their nose to move the object and get to the food.

Downside: sneaky dogs may learn to take the toy out of the bowl before eating, also doesn't accommodate short-snouted dogs.

- Plate

As simple as the bowl w/ a ball. Just pour your dog's kibble onto the plate and spread it around. The flatter and wider the surface, the longer it will take them to eat. You can also use a sheet pan for more surface area.

Downside: it may not always slow them down as much as you'd like.

- Rolled up Towel

This strategy is sort of a DIY snuffle mat. Take an old towel or blanket, spread it out on the floor, pour your dogs food across one end and roll it up. They will have to unroll it and manipulate it to get to the food. For added difficulty, you can tie it in a knot first or add folds before you roll it up.

Downside: some dogs like to shred blankets and towels, also must be washed frequently.

Learn More

If you'd like to see a more detailed view of various slow-feed products and how long they take our dog to finish, check out the video below, and consider subscribing! Thanks so much for reading and tell your pet's we said hello!

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