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Question / Answer

My dog gulps his food is that normal?

Gulping food is a natural behavior for dogs. In fact, canines weren’t designed  to chew food like humans do—that’s why their molars consist of sharp edges for shearing, rather than flat surfaces for grinding. Dogs can also handle swallowing a big piece of food, whereas for humans it’s not possible to do that without choking.

Wild or feral dogs tend to tear off chunks of food and swallow them whole—sometimes very quickly, since food may be scarce and they might only have one meal per day. Filling the stomach as quickly as possible is a strong instinct that helped wild dogs survive.

Modern dogs certainly lead a very different lifestyle inside our homes, where food is plentiful. Our canine companions have adjusted to a domesticated lifestyle, especially breeds that are physiologically very different from their wild ancestors.

That being said, pet dogs still have molars designed for shearing, and many still retain the habit of eating as quickly as possible, without chewing. This can be instinctual. It can also be a learned habit if they ever had to compete for food (which can start as young as competing with their littermates for nursing spots).

Unfortunately, this urge to eat as quickly as possible may cause weight gain, digestive upset (such as vomiting food right after eating), and dangerous stomach bloat.

If your pup inhales their food, try these measures to slow down their eating:

  • Feed smaller, more frequent meals.
  • Purchase a slow feeder bowl, with ridges or raised areas to separate food so it can’t all be gulped down at once.
  • Use a puzzle feeder. This will dispense kibbles a few at a time, while also keeping your pet entertained and mentally stimulated.
  • If you have more than one dog, consider feeding them in separate rooms. This minimizes any competitive instincts.
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