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As a dog owner, you know your dog could eat all day long, even if he isn’t necessarily hungry. Just like us. And oftentimes it’s hard to resist those puppy eyes when he is “licking his chops” like he hasn’t eaten in days.

As humans, we know the feeling of stress-eating, or the feeling to eat out of comfort, especially when we feel sad or depressed. Or if we are at a party with lots of food, oftentimes we eat although we are not even hungry. The worst part is that we humans tend to also eat too fast without properly digesting the food while chewing. We basically inhale our lunch because we don’t have enough time to eat, or can’t relax. Or we eat at our desk, or in front of the tv not paying attention to how much we consume and not paying attention if we are hungry or not.

Dogs can have the same issue. However, not every dog devours its food, some dogs just nibble and some dogs take their time or come back to their bowl to finish it later. Others, on the other hand, inhale it – literally.

There might be different reasons for this behavior. Your dog might have a medical reason for his increased appetite. If this is changed behavior, you might want to have your vet test your dog for certain diseases such as the hormone-related disease called “Cushing’s Disease,” which is a disease of the adrenal glands overproducing certain hormones, or the reason could be “Diabetes Mellitus.” If your dog recently got new medication, one of the side effects could be an increased appetite. You might also want to ask your vet to check for any intestinal parasites your dog might have, which withdraws important nutritions and increases its feeling of hunger.

If your dog doesn’t have any medical condition that causes his increased hunger, other reasons may apply. Your dog might have been the last of the litter and had to fight to get breast milk, or if he or she is a rescue dog, there might have been other pets in your dog’s previous household who were possible threats to your dog’s food, therefore your dog adopted the behavior of a fast-eater. If you have more than one dog, your dog may be food-aggressive and is in competition to protect “his hunt” by devouring it before the other dog can get to it. If that’s the case, separate your pets and give each their space.

Dogs sometimes stress-eat, or get too excited for feeding time and eat faster than normal and end up inhaling their food without chewing it first.

This is mostly the case for kibbles, hence the severity. The inhaling of dry food could have some dangerous consequences on your dog’s health. By devouring his meal too fast, your dog can swallow air along with his food and can experience choking, bloating, discomfort and this can also lead to vomiting. However, it could also cause your dog to develop a twisted stomach caused by trapped gas and the expanded food, also known as “Gastric Dilatation Volvulus.”

This condition can be fatal for your dog and needs emergency care right away. The cause for this condition is still uncertain but many veterinarians believe it happens when too much air gets trapped in a dog’s stomach which then expands with the food he inhaled. This can cause the stomach to twist known as “volvulus,” and might even rupture. If this is the case, surgery is the only option of treatment.

Especially larger breeds, such as American Bull Terriers, German Shepherds, Great Danes, Basset Hounds, Standard Poodles, Doberman Pinschers, Saint Bernards among others, are at increased risk.

Therefore it’s important to teach your four-legged friend to slow down. There are many ways you can do this. You can either feed your pup smaller portions throughout the day, so instead of feeding him twice a day, it could be divided into three to four smaller portions. You can also get an automatic dog feeder that will control the portions for your dog’s meal because they’re on a timer where you can set the schedule, you are also able to control and program, as well as schedule the portion size from the convenience of your phone from anywhere.

Nevertheless, if you feel any of these solutions are not the right fit for your furry friend, a slow-feeding bowl might be in desperate need. Slow-feeders are designed for your dog to only be able to get a little portion of his food in a given time, which gives him the opportunity to actually chew his food before he devours it undigested.

However, if you don’t want to invest in a new feeding bowl, there are other options you can choose to slow down your dog’s feeding habit. You can either use a tennis ball or get a portion pacer feeding ball that you can place in your dog’s food bowl. He will try and move the ball around and that way he will eat slower and chew the kibbles. Keep in mind that if it’s a tennis ball – therefore lighter – your dog might eventually figure out how to push the ball outside his bowl. That’s why a portion pacer might be the better idea since it’s heavier to be pushed out and the best part about it, it’s affordable and easy to clean.

If your dog is obese due to overeating, you can give him a “food-puzzle dog toy.” It’s a toy, with a hollow opening you can place food inside and your dog has to find a way to get to it, by either rolling it to the side or otherwise manipulate it to get the food. Most of these toys are pretty sturdy and therefore hard to destroy even when your dog gets frustrated with it. These toys are also great for your dog to depend on his brain, just like humans need to use “critical thinking” when it comes to solving a puzzle. If you feel like food puzzle toys are not the right fit for your dog, you can create your own “puzzle” and hide food in different corners in your house and/or backyard for your dog to “hunt” his food, so to speak. That way he’ll get in some exercise, as well as use his brain to find his hidden food.

You see, there are different reasons your dog inhales his food, and there are different types of dogs. If you’ve noticed your dog belongs to the ones who are always hungry and don’t chew their food, and often get sick by vomiting right after their meal, then you should consider a slow-eating bowl or a portion pacer, so it doesn’t get worse and your dog ends up in the emergency room due to a twisted stomach, since this can happen quickly it’s important to prevent the issue from happening.

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