Does your dog behave as if every meal is his last? Could it be that Maximus sees a food gremlin lurking at the side of his bowl, just waiting to steal his dinner? If so, you are not alone! Many owners comment that their dogs’ bowls no sooner touch the floor than the meal is inhaled.
Or, perhaps you face the opposite fate. You present Maximus with a tasty bowl of kibble and he looks at you as if to say, “Really? Kibble again?” Then he sniffs at it politely, maybe eats a morsel or two and wanders away. He may or may not finish the bowl by the time his next meal rolls around.
I am blessed to have one of each. I suspect that Buckley, the Bernese Mt. Dog, is a direct descendant from the Hobbits of Middle Earth. Not only is he the size of one and has furry feet, but he adores people, parties, and FOOD! If he could arrange it, I am sure he would delight in breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, lunch, tea, etc. To say he eats with gusto is a gross understatement. However, one problem with eating rapidly when you are a big, barrel-chested dog (think German Shepherds, Danes, Standard Poodles), is that you are at a greater risk for bloat. In bloat, “the stomach fills with air… and then twists over on itself… The distended abdomen interferes with breathing, and the twisted stomach can lose its blood supply. Shock develops rapidly. The result is an emergency situation that needs immediate veterinary attention.” (https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/help-my-dogs-stomach-is-bloated-understanding-canine-bloat-torsion-and-gdv)
When big dogs eat at light speed, they tend to swallow air, thus increasing the chance of bloat. Giving several smaller meals rather than 1 or 2 large meals per day may help reduce the chance of bloat, but so will slowing their eating.
When dealing with the culinary bored canine, you may find yourself constantly trying to entice the picky poodle to eat. I know that I have tried a score of dog foods, prepared his meals with utmost care, and come close to providing candlelight and a homemade bearnaise sauce to awaken Bingley’s delicate palate.
Surprisingly, I have found that both of these problems were helped by the same thing: presentation! I needed to slow Buckley, but interest Bingley and I found that puzzle-like bowls, along with tasty Kongs,* were the solution. I had long used a divided bowl to slow the ravenous Buckley, but he could still devour food at the speed of sound. I found the first of our puzzle bowl collection at a dog training conference. The Northmate Interactive Slow Pet Feeder** comes in two sizes and requires that the devouree hunt through the “grass” to find all the pieces of kibble. (See video below.)
Slo-bowls from Kyjen*** come in a variety of puzzle patterns and colors. We have 4 of them and I rotate them through the dogs so that each meal is presented lin a different bowl. These have extended Buckley’s mealtime from 2 minutes to 15+. Bingley will actually eat his meal, and between the Kong and the bowl, he is happily feasting for close to 20 minutes (See video below for Bing’s first look at a Kyjen bowl). In fact when I give Bingley his meal in a regular bowl he will usually walk away and come back with one of his interactive food toys (such as his Magic Mushroom or Kibble Nibble by Premier/Petsafe****) and plunk it in my lap or at my feet. Apparently for this flattie, breakfast is best served a la intelligence toy.
So, whether you have a picky eater or a rapid inhaler, consider spicing up your dog’s culinary experience with a bowl that not only nourishes the body, but the mind as well.
* Recipes for stuffing Kongs: www.kongcompany.com/recipes/
**Northmate Interactive Slow Pet Feeder: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009CKHXYU/ref=s9_simh_gw_p199_d9_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-4&pf_rd_r=1Z6XNDADG5YBHQ27VWRV&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200482&pf_rd_i=507846
****Premier/Petsafe food distribution toys: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_11?url=search-alias%3Dpets&field-keywords=premier+dog+toys&sprefix=Premier+dog%2Cpets%2C162
Other ideas for intelligence toys: https://apositiveconnection.com/2013/09/whoever-said-breakfast-had-to-come-in-a-bowl/