Why Does My Dog Eat So Fast?

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When humans sit down for a meal, they usually take time to enjoy their food. Your dog, though, takes a completely different approach — they usually devour their kibble in seconds. Read on to learn any potential issues that can happen with your dog eating too fast, plus what you can do to slow them down.

Why Does My Dog Eat So Fast?

Border collie laying down licking the inside of a green bowl.
While it's possible that your pooch just really likes their food, here are a few more likely reasons why your dog eats fast:

  • Competition: If you have more than one dog, your fast eater may feel they have to eat quickly to keep other dogs from snatching food from them, says PetSafe. Or, they may have had to compete for food as a puppy with their littermates. This sense of competition could also be instinctual. So, even if you have an only dog, they may view other members of the household, including cats and people, as competition.
  • Irregular meal timing: If you adopted your dog from the shelter, it's possible that their previous owners did not follow proper feeding etiquette or keep to a regular feeding schedule, so your dog eats as if they aren't sure when they'll get their next meal. This can also be true of dogs who were formerly strays and had to find food in the wild. After time, care and lots of love, your dog may start to slow down, realising that their next meal isn't too far away.
  • Underlying illness: It's possible that an underlying health condition is causing your dog to feel excessively hungry. Diabetes and Cushing's syndrome can impact your dog's metabolism and increase their appetite, says Puppytip. Worms or other parasites could also be the culprit.

The Dangers of Dogs Eating Too Fast

Woman hand feeding a blonde pomeranian sitting on gray fabric couch.
Not only can fast-eating signal an untreated illness — but it can also cause your dog to become sick. If your dog eats too fast, they could experience digestive problems and vomiting. More seriously, consuming food without chewing is a choking hazard. According to Blue Cross, another risk is a serious condition called bloat, which occurs when a dog swallows a lot of air as a result of eating too quickly. Bloat is very uncomfortable for your dog. Bloat (officially called gastric dilatation volvulus or GDV) requires immediate veterinary attention because your dog’s stomach is twisted, which can lead to a rupture and death.

If the reason for your dog's fast eating isn't clear, it's a good idea to have them checked out by a vet — especially if it's a new behaviour.

How to Slow Down Speed-Eating Dogs

If it turns out that your dog has an underlying illness, treating the condition will hopefully return their appetite to normal and slow down their eating. If low-quality food is the issue, then switching to one of better quality should solve the problem. Feeding competitive eaters separately from other pets in a place where they feel safe to eat more slowly might take care of that particular problem. But if none of those solutions slow your fast eater, here are a few tricks you can try:

  • Increase feedings: Serving your dog smaller meals two or three times a day instead of giving them all of their food at once may help. Having smaller meals also decreases their risk for bloat, says Dogster.
  • Use a slow feeder bowl: Slow feeder bowls have built-in obstacles specifically designed to cause dogs to eat more slowly. Commercially made bowls are available, but you can also make your own by placing a smaller bowl upside down inside your dog's regular dish and pouring their food around it.
  • Make mealtime fun: Serve your pooch's food inside a food-dispensing dog toy that only releases a few pieces of kibble at a time. You can make your own version by simply placing a muffin tin upside down and pouring their food in between the muffin molds, so they have to fish it out.

While the reason behind your dog's fast eating may not be serious, if left unchecked, these eating habits could lead to a medical issue. Next time you see your dog inhale their food, remember that what seems like just quirky behaviour could have a serious impact on their health.

Contributor Bio

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.

Reviewed by Dr. Hein Meyer, DVM, PhD, Dipl-ECVIM-CA