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Whoa there, doggy! You may notice your dog racing to the bottom of the bowl during chow time. You might chalk it up to typical doggo habits, but it’s not a harmless behavior. Don’t worry pet parents, there are methods to encourage your doggo to take it easy. Snuffle mats and puzzle toys are great solutions for slowing down the gobbling of treats—but what about mealtimes? That’s where slow feeder bowls for dogs come in.
Below, we’ll talk about our fast eatin’ four-legged friends, why a slow feeder bowl might be right for them, and our favorite slow feeder bowls on the market.
Good question! There’s no single answer as to why some dogs scarf down their chow as if their lives depend on it. In rare cases, your dog may have parasites or the food may not be adequate in terms of nutrition, so it’s always best to talk to a veterinarian first if your dog is racing through their food to safely address, or rule out, these possibilities.
A more likely theory is that it all boils down to competition. This can be exacerbated in multi-pet households, but also exists in single-pet households. The behavior may be rooted in your dog’s very young puppyhood. As part of a litter, nursing or weaned, it’s possible your dog had fluffy competitors to contend with, developing into an obsessive pattern of behavior that places weight on access to, and quick consumption of, food. But this behavior can be unlearned, and a slow feeder is one way to correct this bad habit.
Quickly devouring food isn’t a harmless quirk of your dog’s personality. There are real health dangers that should be taken seriously. In addition to choking and vomiting, dogs can develop gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), or bloat, which is lethal, combining stomach twisting with gas buildup. If your dog exhibits a distended abdomen, dry heaving, sounds of pain, and/or excessive drooling and panting, take them to the vet immediately.
Avoiding the risk of bloat and other digestive issues is a real benefit of slow feeder bowls for dogs. Slow feeders have ridges, pockets, raised centers, and other design elements compared to a regular open bowl. The purpose of these elements is to direct feeding into smaller bites. Often they’re crafted into fun shapes that also make feeding time into a game for your doggo. Slow feeders come in a range of depths, with deeper grooves making the food tougher to get; if your dog is easily frustrated by challenges you may want to try out a shallower bowl. Intrepid dogs will do well with deeper or more complex ridges.
The bottom line: Eating is the best and mealtime should be a fun and safe experience for your dog. Check out our picks for the best slow feeder bowls for dogs below. Bon appetit!
Outward Hound really shines when it comes to slow feeder bowls for dogs, which is why we’re featuring three of their designs. Made from food-safe materials, this dishwasher-safe orange bowl is crafted in a spiral, which not only slows down your dog’s gobbles, but it looks pretty darn fun, too!Shop on Chewy
This purple Outward Hound slow feeder is constructed in a floral maze pattern and comes in two sizes, mini and regular. Like all of the Outward Hound bowls on our list, it’s designed to slow chow sessions way down, to take 10 times longer, in order to help eliminate the possibility of bloat and regurgitation.Shop on Chewy
The teal, curved wall construction of this (BPA-, PVC- and phthalate-free) plastic bowl is another fun option from Outward Hound, available in two sizes. Like other slow feeder bowls from this company, it features a non-skid base to keep the bowl securely in place and protect floors.Shop on Chewy
Available in a one-cup or four-cup volume, this stainless steel slow feeder bowl for dogs is durable and easy to clean. Crafted with a raised center with a sweet paw print for your dog to work around, it also fits in most elevated feeder slots for two-quart food bowls.Find on Amazon
Instead of a bowl, the Gobble Stopper is a bone-shaped device you plop into your existing dog bowl via suction cup, turning any regular bowl into a slow feeding one. It’s available in three sizes; while some dogs have great success with this budget-friendly item, others may want to pull it out. One reviewer noted that the suction works best with ceramic dog bowls.Shop on Chewy
The flat design of this bone-shaped slow feeder may be less frustrating for your dog than some of the others on this list. Hyper Pet’s dish helps your dog slow down via its small pockets for food and treats. Note, this bowl is hand-wash only.Shop on Chewy
Frisco’s bone maze slow feeder bowl for dogs is BPA free—not to mention, super cute! Plus, you can pop it into the top rack of the dishwasher between meals.Shop on Chewy
Another flat feeding option, this “bowl” is made from eco-friendly silicone that is food safe. The wavy ridges slow down munches of kibble and the flat bottom is designed to keep the feeder in place, with no worries about tipping. It does require handwashing, but the material helps the food slide off more easily.Find on Amazon
The raised columns in a star pattern help slow Fido’s food snarfing down in this slow feeding bowl. Made from food-safe plastic with a grippy base, we love that this bowl comes in a long snout and short snout option for different types of dogs, as well as three neutral color combos.Shop on Chewy
This silicone mat does it all. One side contains a removable stainless steel water bowl, and the other is a built-in shallow bowl with elevated edges and ridges inside for slowed down feasting. The bone-shaped mat itself has raised edges to contain food and water spillage. Bonus? The whole shebang can be popped in the dishwasher.Shop on Chewy
Constructed with four raised edges around the bowl’s perimeter, JW Pets’ bowl is a real tank of a slow feeder. Designed from heavy-duty materials, this bowl will not slide, rust, or stain and it even resists bacteria, to boot! Dishwasher safe.Shop on Chewy
Our second selection from Neater Pet, this all-in-one slow feeder bowl for dogs combines a lot of qualities we like: It’s made in the USA from non-toxic plastic; it’s elevated, non-slip, and adjustable; and it has both an open side for water and a shallow, pocketed side for slow noshing.Find on Amazon
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Featured image by Mat Coulton/Pixabay