Eating too fast:
Most dogs are food motivated, so it’s really no surprise they attack their meals as though they haven’t eaten in days and may never eat again. However, dogs who down their dinners in the blink of an eye are more likely to create problems for themselves than those who eat at a more leisurely pace. For example, there’s always the risk of choking when food is inhaled rather than chewed. There’s also an increased risk your pet will immediately vomit his meal, though this tends to happen more often with speed-eating cats than dogs. If you happen to have a large dog with a deep chest, there’s also the very real danger that eating too fast will bring on a case of life-threatening bloat, or gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV). If the speed at which your dog eats makes you nervous, or if she routinely chokes or vomits during or immediately after a meal because she ate too fast, or if you have a breed prone to bloat, here are some useful tips for slowing her down.
Curbing the Need to Gulp Down Food:
Some pets eat like they are never going to see food again, gulping it down so fast they barely have time to chew it, let alone taste it. If it seems that your dog or cat is eating meals faster than necessary, and is behaving in an obsessive manner towards the food, there are some methods you can use to modify your pet’s behavior.
Why is Eating Fast Bad:
First, why should you be concerned with your pet’s eating speed? Because they are not chewing their food thoroughly, rapid eating can lead to choking or gagging. Also, because this type of eating behavior often is associated with greedy behavior, it can lead to aggressive behavior if another pet or person comes close while the animal is eating. In households with children or other animals, an animal that gobbles down its food can be a danger to anyone it perceives as a competitor for its food.
There is also a medical condition that affects some animals, especially large-breed dogs, called gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). The rapid eating and gulping results in excessive air, fluid and food filling the stomach, followed by swelling (dilatation) of the stomach cavity. As the stomach expands, it can twist around on its axis (volvulus), making it impossible for anything to pass through the stomach to the intestines. If this occurs, the animal can go into shock and die quickly.
What Causes This Behavior:
For some puppies and kittens, mealtime is a competition to get enough food before it is all gone — a casualty of their littermates and the adult animals. It may have even started while the animal was nursing. This becomes a pattern of behavior, and is carried on into a new home. The behavior may be most pronounced when there are other animals in the home, but it may also be present even if s/he no longer has competitors.
Of course, there are also underlying medical conditions that can lead to this behavior. Your pet may be infected with parasites that are affecting the body’s ability to absorb the nutrients in the food. Another possibility to consider is that the food is simply nutritionally inadequate for the animal’s needs and is leaving the animal feeling hungrier than it should as a result.