Puppies eating

Bringing a puppy home is quite an adventure. As the cute little fluff adapts to his new home, it is important to set him up for success. Beginning with proper nutrition is important, and once your pup gets home, you may notice that he gobbles up his food like there is no tomorrow. Eating too quickly can be a choking hazard for your pup, can cause pain and discomfort, and can even cause severe gastrointestinal conditions like volvulus, or stomach twisting. 

The Speedy Origins

When you went to pick up your new pup, chances are she was in a pen with several other puppies and a few bowls dispersed throughout the pen for them all to share. Your pup may have had to compete for food, having to nudge in and eat as fast as she possibly could to ensure she got enough to eat. This was one of her first lessons in life, and it can take work to help your pup unlearn this bad habit. 

It is important to intervene when your puppy is young to try to stop the kibble killing behavior. The following tips can help you try to tame your chowhound down:

Limit the Competition

If your household has other dogs, your pup may still feel that mealtime is a competition. It may be best to feed your dogs separately to limit that perception of competition for food. If you provide your pup with his own space to eat, he may feel less anxious about eating as quickly as he can. Once your pup begins to relax, knowing that he will always get his food, he may naturally slow down his eating cadence.

Quality Over Quantity

You can limit the amount of food your pup receives at one time. While this will result in having to feed your pup more times throughout the day, it will reduce the availability of food to gobble in a single feeding. If you are concerned about not being able to do this because you aren’t able to be home enough throughout the day, there are programmable feeders that you can utilize which can control the amount and times of feedings. Smaller, more frequent feedings throughout the day can also help your pup feel that food isn’t scarce and reduce their anxiety about eating as much as possible.

Create an Obstacle Course

One way to slow your puppy down is to create an obstacle for them to reach each bite of food. They have no choice but to slow down when each bite is a bit more difficult to take. There are several food puzzle bowls available in pet stores that can be used to create the obstacles or you could always create your own by putting some puppy-safe toys in the bowl along with the food so your puppy would have to remove the toys to reach the food.  

Make It A Game

You can challenge your puppy’s brain during mealtimes and make them “hunt” for their food by placing small portions of food in different locations throughout the house or the yard. It will take time for them to find their nibbles and will support their learning through sniffing. Plus, they will get a bit of exercise at the same time!

By implementing some of these tips, hopefully your puppy will grow into being a nibbler instead of an inhaler. Each puppy is unique, so you may need to try a few different things. The team at Bowman Veterinary Hospital would also be happy to discuss some methods to help your pup get on the right track with his nutrition. Request an appointment to learn more about puppy wellness.