Does Your Pet Need a Slow Feeder Bowl?
If you have noticed your pet scarfing down their food at record speeds, it may be time to consider a slow feeder bowl. "The ridges and barriers in a slow feeder create a bit more work for your pup at meal time, as the food is a bit harder to access as quickly," explains Dr. Jennifer Freeman, DVM, PetSmart's resident veterinarian and pet care expert. That way, your pet won't be able to rush their meal. Slow eating can improve your pet's overall health as well as prevent dangerous side effects like bloat.
What else is important to know about slow feeder bowls? Here, we asked Dr. Freeman for her expert insight and product recommendations.
Why Slow Eating Is Important
Rushing through food may mean that your pet is excited about mealtimes or overly hungry, but the main reason to be concerned about fast eating habits is that your pet could be swallowing large amounts of air with every gulp. "Ingesting air can lead to upset stomach in your pup or worse, it can increase risk of gastric dilatation with volvulus (GDV) or more commonly known as bloat, which is a life-threatening condition in dogs that requires emergency surgery," says Dr. Freeman. According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, GDV expands the stomach to the point that it may not be able to relieve itself of food and gas. Symptoms of the condition include a very distended belly, your pet seemingly preoccupied with their stomach, drooling, and vomiting without expelling anything.
Choosing a Slow Feeder Bowl
That said, not every slow feeder bowl will be the right one for your pet, which is why Dr. Freeman recommends speaking to your veterinarian to see which bowls they recommend. However, Dr. Freeman regularly recommends the following picks for her own patients:
The Top Paw Slow-Feeder Pet Bowl ($12.99, petsmart.com) looks like a maze and comes in either pink or blue; because of the maze-like interior of the bowl, your dog will need to work for his food which will naturally slow him down while he eats. For smaller dogs or puppies, the Top Paw Slow Feeder Double-Sided Silicone Diner Dog Mat ($21.99, petsmart.com) is rated best; it features a spot for a water bowl and a raised mat where you would present your dog's food. Otherwise, the Outward Hound Fun Feeder Dog Bowl (from $9.98, amazon.com) is sized for small, medium, and large breeds while featuring an inner spiral maze.