Benefits of Using a Slow Feeder for Your Pup

Does your dog get a little too excited for meal time and gobble up their food before you know it?
You might want to consider incorporating a slow feeder into your pup’s routine! Eating too quickly can result in some serious health consequences, from minor digestive upset to life-threatening conditions. But reshaping your dog’s eating habits might seem like an overwhelming task, which is where slow feeders come in! Although it might just seem like a fun, colorful bowl or toy, slow feeders provide a multitude of health benefits for dogs.

Types of Slow Feeders
Slow feeders, interactive feeders, or puzzle toys are an item that holds your dog’s meal, with some sort of obstruction preventing them from eating their food too quickly. These feeding tools require your pup to use their brain to solve some sort of problem or puzzle to access their food, slowing them down while also providing mental enrichment. Slow feeders can be a variety of sizes, made out of various materials, and have varying levels of difficulty. Finding the right fit for your dog can be a bit of trial and error, as there are many options to choose from.

  • Traditional slow feeder bowls: Pet parents are often most familiar with standard slow feeder bowls that resemble the shape of a dog bowl, but may include a fun design that places walls of plastic or metal domes in the way of your dog’s food, creating a maze for them to eat around. Traditional slow feeders come in both plastic and stainless steel. The plastic bowls have more intricate designs, but can be a chew risk for dogs with particularly strong mouths. Stainless steel bowls can also be easier to clean, which might be a better fit for raw feeders.
  • Puzzle Toys: If your pup is particularly smart, or enjoys a good challenge, puzzle toys might be a great option to keep their mind busy and slow down their eating! There are countless puzzle toys on the market, including balls that wobble and spill out kibble and games that require moving pieces to reveal food. Puzzle toys come in various levels of difficulty, and you can rotate between a few to keep your dog’s mind sharp! A downside to puzzle toys is their limited space to hold large quantities of food, and they can be problematic for raw feeders due to all the corners to clean.
  • Stuffable Toys: Everyone loves a classic stuffable dog toy! But have you ever used your stuffable toy for your dog’s meal, not just a tasty snack? No matter what you feed, toys like KONGs and Toppls can be prepped in advance and utilized for mealtime. Stuffable toys most easily lend themselves to raw feeders, but you can also soak dry food or blend it with some water to create a paste that can be stuffed inside your toy of choice.
  • Snuffle Mats: Snuffle mats are a fun, interactive slow feeder for our pet parents who feed dry or freeze-dried dog food. They function by utilizing your dog’s natural foraging instinct, scattering food throughout strips of fabric. Your pup must use their nose to search through the fabric and pick out their food, one piece at a time. Experts equate 10-15 minutes of mental stimulation using a snuffle mat to 1 hour of physical exercise.

Health Benefits of Slow Feeders
Slowing down rate of eating: As is obvious given the name, the main reason for slow feeders is to reduce how quickly your dog is consuming their food. Changing your pup’s mindset when eating and teaching them mealtime requires patience and can reshape their eating habits.

Improved digestion: Eating too quickly can overwhelm the digestive system, and your dog may result in digestive upset or vomit soon after finishing their meal. Dogs who consume too much food, eat too quickly, or fail to chew their food can experience gas, constipation, and just an overall heavy, uncomfortable feeling in their gut. Forcing your pup to take smaller mouthfuls, in turn reducing the rate at which the food enters the digestive system can lead to better digestion overall.

Mental stimulation: Mental enrichment is as important as physical exercise for your dog’s health and happiness. Incorporating various slow feeder activities into your weekly routine can keep your pup’s mind busy, lowering stress and helping prevent negative behaviors that often result from boredom. To receive the best mental stimulation benefits from slow feeders, we recommend rotating between different types of bowls, puzzles, stuffable toys, and snuffle mats to continue presenting a challenge for your pet.

Preventing Bloat: One of the most important reasons for slowing down your dog’s eating habits is the life-threatening risk of bloat. This condition can appear quickly, and oftentimes by the time you realize what’s happening it’s too late. Gastric dilation and volvulus(GDV), more commonly known as bloat, occurs when the stomach fills beyond capacity with gas, liquid, or food. This sudden increase in size of the stomach puts pressure on surrounding organs, and in some cases the stomach may also twist, leading to life-threatening complications. Some breeds are more susceptible to bloat, but all dogs are at risk when consuming food too quickly. Integrating a slow feeder into your routine is an inexpensive, easy step to preventing this frightening, costly, and oftentimes deadly condition.

No matter what the motivation for making the switch, we highly recommend incorporating a slow feeder into your dog’s mealtimes. Raw Rations carries many slow feeder options for dogs of various breeds, ages, sizes, and eating styles. Raw feeders, those who feed kibble, and pet parents who offer a variety of food formats all have many options when it comes to slow feeders. Whether you have a power chewer, a senior pup who needs some mental stimulation, or a puppy that inhales their food in seconds our team would love to help you find the slow feeder that’s right for you!

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