Trying to make your puppy chew their food is almost impossible because their teeth weren’t designed for that purpose. But you can slow them down from gulping their food which is better for them.
if your puppy won’t chew their food, you can slow their eating by:
- Have smaller, more frequent meals to avoid hunger.
- Ensure your other dogs aren’t stealing their meal.
- Space out the meal bowls if you have other pets.
- Put meals in a puzzle tray which slows your puppy down.
- Keep mealtimes calm
Your puppy’s teeth are designed to rip and tear at food, which they automatically swallow, and their stomach acid does the digestion. They don’t chew unless it is a tough bone.
Instead of trying to get them to chew, try to get them to slow down. Mealtimes should not be a big production number. Keep the atmosphere relaxed and make sure there is enough food for all pets and that they are supervised so that no one will steal another’s food.
Slowing your puppy’s eating can be overcome by hand feeding their meal to them. Regulating their food is important as you don’t want your little pooch to choke, vomit or suffer bloating.
Hand-feeding your puppy also provides valuable bonding time between you and your buddy.
Never play with your puppy’s food by taking it away from them, even for a second, as it will only make them more anxious. A grown dog will bite because they take food very seriously. So leave them to enjoy their food.
They Eat the Food Before Another Takes It
Puppies love their food; they often act as though their stomachs are bottomless pits. The moment they finish wolfing down their meal, they are on the prowl for scraps!
They don’t chew because that wastes valuable eating time; they can get more in by swallowing the food whole.
Let’s look at some canine biology.
- Puppies (and dogs) don’t chew as we do, as their teeth are designed to rip and tear chunks of food.
- Instinctively they swallow to try and get as much food as they can.
- The canine throat can expand to five times its normal width.
- They can swallow large bits of food without getting indigestion.
- Canines have stronger stomach acid than ours, this allows for the rapid digestion of large pieces of food.
- Like their ancestor, the wolf, or a pack of wild dogs, the first to the food got the best. Speed was essential for a young pup to survive. They had to grab and run before a larger wolf stole their food.
- Often wild dogs or wolves had to go without for days before getting a decent meal.
So when food was available, first the highest-ranking dog pair got the choice of meat, and then it was every dog for themselves.
- Today, canine mealtimes can be stressful if they are competing with other pets. A puppy who comes from a large litter may have had to compete early in life for their food.
- Once this becomes a habit it is hard to overcome.
That doesn’t mean you should let your little puppy gobble their meal as there is a limit to how much they can stuff down their throat! But a happy medium is a goal to aim for.
Solutions that will Slow Your Puppy’s Eating.
There are countless ways of slowing a gutsy puppy down. Sadly, chewing isn’t one of them.
- Use puzzle bowls or mats, so they have to eat around obstacles to find their food.Try a snuffle mat or a blanket where you can hide the food within them.
- Hand-feeding their meals (great for bonding as well).
- Hide their meal in the grass outside on a fine day.
- Food dispensing toys like a Kong, or a Wobbler. It takes longer to shake the food out.
- In summer, try freezing portions of their meal in a broth block.
- In winter, you could warm up some broth and drop their meal into that.
- Spread out a meal on a tray so they can’t gulp a mouthful at a time.
- There are so many types of puzzle feeds on the market that you are bound to find one that suits your purpose.
- You can even put the meal in a large bowl and introduce an item like a tennis ball (it has to be something they can’t swallow) so that your puppy has to eat around the ball.
These tricks will slow your puppy down, but as for chewing their food, it’s probably never going to happen. They are happy to swallow it whole and let their round tummies do the digesting bit.
Other Pets May Steal Your Puppies Food.
While your other pets may accept your new puppy happily, some are not above seizing an opportunity and will try to steal your puppy’s food.
The blame is not just on your older dogs, a resident cat is just as likely to bully the puppy out of their dinner.
Mealtimes among pets should always be supervised, especially if a smaller pet is part of your family.
It will only take a few stolen meals for a puppy to get the idea to eat as fast as possible at mealtimes. That empty feeling in their tummy when they missed a meal is not a nice feeling.
Allow a large space between each feeding station. That means your puppy won’t feel as crowded and threatened.
And again, watch at all times, because … well older cats and dogs are sneaky! And your puppy will suffer from missed meals unless you are there to protect them.
Feeding Your Puppy The Correct Amount.
Puppies are busy little beavers, always playing with their toys, chasing older animals around and biting their tails, or getting into places a puppy shouldn’t be.
They are either playing, exploring, sleeping, or eating.
Puppies use up a ton of energy, so perhaps your puppy needs a little more in the food bowl than they have been getting?
Or maybe they have to wait too long between meals?
Try more frequent meals, but smaller portions as this can often satisfy that hungry puppy who seems to inhale all their food at once.
If that doesn’t slow them down, try hiding small portions of their meal, so they have to find it or use a treat dispenser to distribute the food slowly. That will allow your puppy’s stomach to signal to the brain that it is full up!
Do not ever make a game of their meal by taking it away and then letting them beg for it back. This can lead to full-blown anxiety, and they will eat even faster.
Food is a serious item for a puppy. Once you give them their food, don’t take it away. Stealing their food can lead to distrust, aggression, or anxiety, and you don’t want to go down that track.
You have heard the slogan – wolfing down your food? Well, that is what your puppy believes. Wolfing food down means you can grab more food. So forget about the chewing; train them to slow down when they eat.
Ensure Your Puppy’s Diet Is Balanced.
Another cause of gulping down their food might be your puppy’s diet. If the diet lacks something they need, it can make their feeding behavior desperate and panicky.
Not getting enough essential nourishment in their diet can lead to ravenous eating at mealtimes.
In other words, they just scoff their food as fast as they can, which is not a pretty sight and can lead to digestive issues such as choking, gagging, vomiting the food back out, or bloat which can be a serious issue.
Puppies and parasites go hand in hand, so your puppy may be suffering from parasites who are getting the nutrients that your puppy needs.
Book in with your local vet for a full health check. They can investigate your pup’s health and the vet can suggest ways to improve their diet so that they are getting all the nutrients that they need.
Choosing soothing foods such as cooked chicken, egg, or sausages, can provide serotonin which is a hormone that helps prevent anxiety. This can slow your dog down by relaxing them, so they don’t gulp their food.
Vary their diet to cover a range of foods so that they get as many nutrients as are required to grow into a healthy dog.
Apart from behavioral causes such as other pets being fed alongside your puppy that causes anxiety when eating, there are medical issues that may be at the root of your puppy’s behavior.
Hyperthyroidism is a disease that causes an abundance of the hormone thyroxin.
- A ravenous appetite.
- Eating at a rapid pace.
- An increase in your puppy’s metabolism.
- Weight loss because their elevated metabolism burns up the food rapidly.
- Reluctance to exercise.
If left unchecked, your puppy will continue to eat but get no benefit from the food. Eventually, complications can set in that can be fatal.
If you have any doubts about your puppy’s eating behavior, book them in for a check-up with your vet.
Puppies Just Love Food.
When all is said and done, puppies just love their food, and that will never change.
It is hard work to get them to slow down when they eat. And chewing is not in their vocabulary. Why chew when you can swallow in one gulp.
They love the smell of it, and they like the feeling when their rotund little tummies are full.
A puppy is like a vacuum cleaner, they suck up any little crumbs of food they can find.
When it comes to puppies, pick your battles. Demanding they chew is a losing battle, but if you can slow them down a bit, you have gained a win.
So enjoy your little puppy and employ some of the suggestions made here to at least slow down the inhaling of their food!
Writer: Jean Brewer