How to Get My Dog to Chew His Food? (ANSWERED!)

Are you looking for the answer to how to get my dog to chew his food? We’ve been there, and it can be very frustrating for dog owners. Here’s everything you need to know.

It’s time to eat supper! You set down the kibble dish, which is brimming with food. You hear a dog swallow as you glance over your shoulder for a split second. The food has vanished like magic.

How to make your dog chew his food instead of swallowing it whole? Fortunately, this is a simple issue to address.

If your main concern is that you can’t get your dog to chew his food, the most natural approach is to make it more difficult for him to consume.

Slow down Your Dog’s Eating so He’ll Chew

Dog food quality impacts how hungry they are after meals.
A dog must have nutritionally balanced food to feel satisfied after mealtime.

If your question is, “How to get my dog to chew his food,” then slow feeder bowls are one of the best ways to help your dog slow down and enjoy his food!

A slow feeder bowl has ridges or pockets inside the bowl that make it harder for the dog to get to the kibble.

Rather than inhaling the kibble and swallowing it whole, the dog has to pull the kibble in and process it in smaller amounts.

It can still be shocking how fast a dog can make his way around a slow feeder bowl, but for most dogs, it can stretch feeding time to multiple minutes instead of several seconds.

Make Mealtime a Game

For dogs who wolf down their food, turning mealtime into a game is a great way to slow down eating and stimulate mental activity at the same time.

We love using puzzle feeders with our dogs because it slows down their eating and stimulates thinking. A good puzzle feeder can keep a dog occupied for a long time and stimulates its foraging instincts.

When a dog finds it harder to get kibbles into his mouth he’s much more likely to savor and enjoy it.

Why Is My Dog Not Chewing Food?

It is important to understand that dogs are not intended to chew and enjoy their meals in the same manner as people do by nature or biology.

Even though dogs have become our pets, they retain their predecessors’ instincts.

Their best chance of survival in the wild was to consume everything they discovered as soon as possible before moving on to the next source of food.

The good thing is that your dog is not risking his health by eating so fast and not chewing his food. However, this can cause excess gas and bad breath. Some dogs will choke on food when eating this way.

If your dog frequently chokes on food because he’s wolfing it down, a puzzle feeder or slow feeder bowl is recommended. Also make sure the kibbles you’re feeding are not too big for his breed.

Environment Plays a Significant Role in Eating Speed

The environment might have a significant influence on how quickly a dog consumes its meal.

If your dog is startled by loud noises or the appearance of people nearby, it may eat food without chewing to finish as fast as possible.

Furthermore, if you have a large number of dogs at home, their inherent pack mentality may be activated, causing them to compete for food.

This behavior could also be hereditary since the dog was competing with siblings for his or her mother’s milk.

Nutritional Insufficiency

Nutritional insufficiency might also have an impact on how quickly your dog swallows its food.

If the food doesn’t provide adequate nutrition, a dog might be feeling a little bit extra hungry and eat as much as possible every time.

A dog’s appetite might also be increased by certain underlying medical problems. Parasites in your dog’s body are one possibility. These can reduce the dog’s capacity to absorb nutrients from its diet.

Increased hunger, caused by diseases like diabetes or Cushing’s Disease, encourages dogs to eat faster. We always recommend that you take your dog for a vet checkup when eating habits are abnormal.

Is It Dangerous If My Dog Won’t Chew His Food?

teach my dog to eat more slowly
Place an obstacle in your dog’s bowl that forces him to eat around the outside, slowing his pace.

There is the possibility that your dog could choke if he swallows his food without chewing.

When dogs swallow their food whole, the most typical issue they encounter is that it regurgitates back up. This happens because hard-to-digest unchewed foods make the dog’s stomach sour.

Finally, the most serious concern is a medical condition known as gastric dilation volvulus or twisted spleen. It is most frequent in bigger breeds, which are also often the fastest eaters.

How Do I Get My Dog to Chew His Food?

Even if it is in their nature to consume food whole, slowing down your dog when they eat is very beneficial. Here are four simple methods for you to try.

Make a Feeder Bowl

You can make it a simple feeder bowl by inverting a smaller bowl inside the large bowl. This forces food to the outside of the bowl, and the dog must work his way around the outside, eating more slowly.

Use an Automatic Slow Feeder

A great method to avoid the negative effects of overeating excessively quickly is to distribute smaller meals throughout the day.

If you’re home all day you can simply give the dog very small amounts of food more frequently, which will stop the fast eating.

We recommend purchasing an automatic feeder that will dispense food in small amounts throughout the day on a schedule that you program into the feeder.

Put an Obstacle Into the Dog Bowl

This is similar to purchasing a slow-feeder bowl. Place inedible objects into the food bowl that create obstacles for your dog to eat around.

CAUTION: This is very dangerous if your dog is prone to eating inedibles like rocks, dirt, and toys. Always use objects that are too large to ingest like small inverted bowls or large rocks.

Try a Snuffle Mat

A snuffle mat activates a dog’s natural foraging instincts while also providing a long-term challenge.

A snuffle mat is a different type of dog puzzle toy where kibble or treats are hidden inside the mat. The dog must find and chew each kibble. These are very effective for getting dogs to slow down and chew food.

Read our related article on How to Make a Fun and Functional Dog Puzzle Mat. Similar to a snuffle mat, puzzle mats are a great way to challenge your dog using their natural sniffing instincts!

Switch up Your Dog’s Food

If you’ve been feeding your dog only dry food, consider switching to wet food. Wet food can be eaten fast, but dogs tend to savor it more, and there is less risk of choking.

Whatever food you use, make sure there is only a single layer of food in the dish. It’s more difficult for your dog to eat a lot at once as a result of this.

Final Thoughts

While it can be frustrating (and messy) to have a dog that won’t chew his food, it usually is not a life-threatening problem.

We’ll always have dogs that insist on wolfing their food, but these methods have worked well for us. What method do you use to get your dog to chew the food? Let us know in the comments below!

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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