It is perfectly natural for dogs to gobble their food, but this instinct can harm them if it goes too far. When dogs eat too fast, it can result in various problems, although none of them tend to be severe. Bloating, gas and obesity can easily occur, the last of which increases your dog’s risk of heart problems. Not only that, but some dogs will vomit if they eat too fast! That’s bad for them and very wasteful for you as well.
Let’s discuss one of the most effective ways to solve this problem: A slow feed dog bowl. Basically, these are just bowls that obstruct the dog’s ability to eat too much at once. This forces them to eat slowly. To get a better idea of how these things work, let’s look at six of the best examples we could find online.
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6 Best Slow Feeder Dog Bowl Reviews
Best Overall Slow Feed Dog Bowl
This is a great bowl that looks like plastic but is not. It’s made from an organic compound called Melamine, which is basically a resin. It is considered to be less toxic and more environmentally sound than most plastics, so that’s a plus.
We mainly like this one because it provides just enough obstruction to slow the dog down. It won’t make things ridiculously difficult for them, and the blocking tabs have rounded tops to make things easier on their teeth and gums. We also like the no-skid bottom, which reduces spillage. The only problem is that those handles on the bottom make an appealing chew point for many dogs.
- Provides just enough obstruction
- Made from melamine rather than plastic
- No-skid bottom
- Available in numerous sizes
- Pick-up handles are a potential chew point
Best Stainless Steel Slow Feed Dog Bowl
This is easily the most durable option on the list, simply because it’s made of stainless steel. There are certain advantages to a steel bowl, such as the fact that the bowl is likely to last a lot longer. It’s well-coated steel, so it isn’t likely to rust, either. That means you can throw it in the dishwasher when needed.
The only problem here is that the bowl does not provide enough obstruction. Thus, it won’t slow your dog’s eating all that much. That reduces its effectiveness, which is a real shame. With just a little more obstruction, this would probably have been our winner for the title of “best slow feeder dog bowl.”
- Most durable option on the list
- Stainless to prevent rusting
- Non-skid bottom
- Can double as a water bowl
- Lots of sizes
- Not enough obstruction
Best Puzzle Food Bowl for Dogs
This might be the most attractive piece of merchandise on our list, but that doesn’t matter a whole lot. What does matter is the fact that this one provides an extreme amount of obstruction. It’s kind of like the opposite of the single-hump metal bowl that we saw earlier. Where that one was only suited for mild cases, this one is only suited for serious cases.
Still, we can see that this product is offered in several alternate forms, like a “spiral” design.” These offer a little less resistance to the dog, so they might be a little better for the average user. This one is on the border between slow-feed bowls and puzzle feeders, so bear that in mind.
- Greatly slows eating time
- Makes a fun little game
- Available in several forms
- Only good for serious cases
Best Elevated Slow Feed Dog Bowl
This one resembles egg-crate foam, and we would bet that was the inspiration. Without any sharp or squared edges, it forces a dog to eat small portions.
We like the basic method by which this thing works, as it is both simple and effective. In fact, the base of the bowl can also be used as a water bowl. At the same time, this thing is too easy to tip over, especially if water is not added. A great product overall, but not well suited for large dogs.
- Great for small dogs
- No squared or sharp edges
- Base can be used as a water bowl
- Made of food-grade plastic
- Too easy to spill
- Not as good for big dogs
Best Small Feeder Dog Bowl
This is a light-duty kind of bowl that provides a little bit of obstruction via five rounded nubs. It uses a few large ones instead of many small ones, and that tends to be safer for the dog. In fact, this whole thing is extremely slick and smooth. As such, it should not cause a lot of discomfort to your pet. It’s also the cheapest option on this list, in spite of its decent durability factor. We would say that you shouldn’t use this one for dogs with an intense gulping problem, but it will work fine for most dogs.
- Everything is very smooth and rounded
- Very affordable and safe
- Good for water as well
- Plastic is nice and thick
- Sizes from extra small to large
- Not a lot of obstruction
Best Ceramic Slow Feeder Dog Bowl
The first thing that stands out about this product is the fact that it’s made of stoneware rather than plastic. It’s pretty strong, too, so it should resist breakage a lot better than most ceramics. That extra weight also makes it less likely to get tipped over and spilled.
Overall, this is a high-quality option at a fairly low price. At the same time, we do see one big problem here. Those obstructing nubs on the bottom are made in the shape of a paw print, and they aren’t raised up very high. The shape doesn’t matter so much, but this one should only be used for small dogs since it won’t hinder feeding very much.
- Not made of plastic
- Fit for human use
- Heavy to prevent spillage
- Resists cracking and breaking
- Nubs are too low
Buying Guide for Best Slow Feeder Dog Bowl
There are many slow-feeder dog bowls on the market, but all of them are meant for the same kind of situation: A dog that eats too fast. At this point, you might be wondering why it matters. After all, it is natural for dogs to eat quickly, at least to a point. Is there really a need to restrict the speed of their eating? In some cases, there is not, but these products are not intended for the majority of dogs. These are intended for dogs that have a particular problem with eating too fast.
The Risk Of Choking
Dogs can potentially choke on their food in the same way that humans can. When they start wolfing down their food at an accelerated rate, that risk becomes a lot greater. The Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association (PFMA) keeps statistics on that kind of thing, which can be found here. As you can see, choking on food is not the most common form of this problem.
Chews and chew toys seem to be much more frequent causes of choking, especially those that contain bone material. In fact, it was found that bone material was involved in 81% of the cases they found in which dogs choked to death.
Nevertheless, a real risk of death exists. An organization of pet food manufacturers would not care about this kind of thing if it were not also a problem for dog food products.
Thankfully, there is some good news on this front. Just as you can use the famous “Heimlich maneuver” to stop a person from choking to death, you can also do the same for a dog. Naturally, it’s a little different performing the Heimlich maneuver on a dog, but this handy guide should tell you what you need to know. We would advise all of our readers to become familiar with this procedure, as it could easily save your dog’s life.
The Risk Of Bloating
It is also easy for dogs to become bloated if they eat too much, too quickly. When we say this, we are not talking about a situation in which the dog simply has too much food in their stomach. That condition is commonly referred to as “food bloating,” and it definitely isn’t a serious problem. It certainly isn’t good for the dog, though, because it tends to lead to obesity and gas. Still, the dog will probably be fine once it has had time to digest for a while.
The real risk comes from a more extreme form of bloating called gastric dilatation-volvulus. That’s a big mouthful, so we’ll just call it GDV like most of the studies do. We have already mentioned the tendency of overeating to produce gassiness, but we should explain why that is the case.
When the dog is gulping down huge amounts of food with abandon, they are also swallowing large amounts of air. In small amounts, it will just cause them to stink up the living room. In large amounts, however, all that gas can actually cause the stomach to dilate. This is actually a life-threatening condition that can kill a dog pretty quickly. As the stomach dilates, it is no longer able to expel food or gas in any form, and a rupturing of the stomach wall is one of the unpleasant consequences that can result.
The Risk Of Vomiting
Obviously, this is the smallest risk factor, but it should still be addressed. No one wants to spend a whole lot of time cleaning up dog puke, and it’s certainly not a pleasant experience for your pet, either. Apart from all that, it’s just plain wasteful. Again, it is normal for dogs to eat fast, but a dog that regularly throws up after gorging itself is going too far. In the wild, such an animal would have to either adapt or die.
Of course, you want to make sure that your dog’s vomiting is actually being caused by overeating and not by some other factor. For instance, if your dog has recently eaten grass from the yard, don’t be surprised if they vomit. It may seem like your dog is acting silly when they eat grass, but it’s actually a very smart move. The grass helps them to vomit up anything bad that may be in their stomach. As such, it works as a natural remedy that dogs use by instinct when they feel ill.
Other Methods To Reduce Your Dog’s Eating Speed
Apart from a slow-feed bowl, there are several other things that you can do to reduce your dog’s eating speed. The simplest way is to just give them smaller portions and more of them.
For instance, you could do three small meals per day instead of one big one. When you are dealing with a dog that is determined to eat fast, you cannot expect them to change on your say-so. Some dogs will even become aggressive if you try to take their food, so taking away the food bowl at mid-meal isn’t a good thing to do. Even if they don’t get aggressive, they will probably take it as a sign that you are unhappy with them.
There are also puzzle games that reward dogs with food for figuring out a problem. This might involve the removal of lids and tabs or the movement of certain objects or any number of other things. These things slow down the rate of consumption even more than a slow-feed bowl, so they are the next logical step to take if these bowls aren’t good enough.
Hand-feeding is another viable option, although most people do not have the time for all that.
The Anxiety Factor
It might seem strange to say this, but anxiety might also be the cause of your dog’s excessive gulping. In the wild, dogs have to eat quickly because the rest of the pack is also eating. If you don’t eat fast, you won’t get your share. That’s just the way a dog pack works, and they have retained a lot of those old instincts.
You can help to reduce your dog’s mealtime anxiety in a few different ways. First, feed them separately from any other dogs or pets you might have. Another animal in the room will make them feel that they need to eat more quickly. You can also try feeding them in the evenings when they are a little more relaxed. Dogs tend to be very excited upon seeing their master first thing in the morning. That’s a good sign of loyalty, but you don’t want them to eat while in such an excited state.
Not every dog needs one, but a slow-feed dog bowl can solve several problems at once. Your dog won’t like it at first, as it will interfere with their normal habits. However, that is a small price to pay for a healthier life. Besides that, some dogs enjoy the challenge that is provided by these types of bowls.
When choosing the best slow feeder dog bowl, the real trick is to choose one that offers the right level of obstruction, allowing you to adjust your dog’s eating speed more precisely. For that reason, we think that the Super Design bowl is probably the best overall. It provides just enough obstruction to do the job in a high-quality and affordable package. The Durapet stainless steel bowl is a close runner-up, but it doesn’t obstruct eating quite enough.
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