Help! My Dog's Eating Too Fast!

Stop the scarf and barf.

stop dog eating too fast

Does your dog scarf down her meal like it’s the last one she’ll ever get?

Don’t worry — you’re not alone.

In fact, speed eating is pretty common in dogs — and the reason is more ingrained in them than you might realize.

The Dodo spoke with a vet to find out why your dog is probably eating too fast, and how you can help her to stop.

Why do dogs eat too fast?

“There can be several reasons why a dog eats too fast.,” Dr. Andrea Y. Tu, medical director of Behavior Vets NYC in New York City, told The Dodo.

According to Dr. Tu, some of these reasons include:

  • Competition in the house with other animals for food
  • The particular food may be of higher value than the usual offered
  • The dog could be suffering from an underlying illness or nutritional deficiency that’s causing him to be excessively hungry

“However, if you have ruled out all these causes, then it simply could be because eating out of a bowl is just not consistent with how a dog should normally eat,” Dr. Tu said.

Imagine for a second — paint a picture in your mind — of how your dog would spend her time if she weren’t all snuggled up at home with you. She’d be out there in the world just living her wild dog life, looking for food all day.

“As omnivores, wild dogs are used to spending the majority of their waking hours hunting and gathering food,” Dr. Tu explained. “The inconsistent availability of food means they often are eating small amounts over longer periods of time.”

According to Dr. Tu, the irregular availability of food out in the wild, coupled with the competition for food with other wild canines, means that dogs may instinctively try to maximize their caloric intake as quickly as possible — hence the speed eating.

“In fact, a 2012 study by Dr. Hewson-Hughes showed that some dogs will eat up to twice their required caloric intake if presented with unlimited food supplies!” Dr. Tu said.

So while you might feel like a good dog parent giving your bestie a large portion of her favorite food in a custom engraved bowl, that might not be the best for a dog who eats like it’s going out of style. 

How to stop your dog from eating too fast

To stop speed eating in dogs, Dr. Tu gave some advice.

“To prevent this, we always recommend using puzzle toys to feed your pets — ditch the bowls!” Dr. Tu said.

These types of puzzle toys require your dog to engage or manipulate the toy in some way in order for the toy to dispense out a small amount of food.

By using these, Dr. Tu said, you’ll allow your dog to engage in hunting, play and exploratory behaviors; puzzle solving skills; and the physical and intellectual stimulation that they desire when they feed — all that and it ensures they eat in small amounts over a longer period of time.

Examples of excellent puzzle toys for dogs: 

This dog feeder ball from Petco for $11.99
This feeder jug from Petco for $7.95

If your dog is easily frustrated and gives up on puzzle toys, Dr. Tu recommends gently helping them get the treats out so that your pup gets comfortable getting close and investigating them. “Gradually increase the amount of manipulation required to earn the small treat. Remember, as always, to reward good behavior when you see it,” Dr. Tu said.

If puzzle toys don’t seem to be your dog’s thing, Dr. Tu recommends using foraging mats — which tend to be easier for impatient pups.

Like this one from Etsy for $39.99

Your dog eating too fast doesn’t have to be a problem — and following these tips can help make sure she slows down.

We independently pick all the products we recommend because we love them and think you will too. If you buy a product from a link on our site, we may earn a commission.