Slowing Your Dog's Aggressive Eating

Behavior and Training  •  Pam Karkow  •  Thursday, May 14, 2020

My parents dog, Lily, is an aggressive eater.  She loves her food, a little too much.  When she visits our house she is all too happy to scarf down her own bowl of food and then bat cleanup after our senior dog.  All this gulping has led to her choking and throwing up after she eats.  

Why do dogs eat their food quickly?

  • It’s a competition!  If your dog came from a large litter, or you have other pets in your home, he may be used to fighting for his food.  

  • He has an underlying medical condition.  If your dog seems ravenous all the time, he may be suffering from hyperthyroidism, diabetes, or even have parasites that are not allowing his body to absorb nutrients in the food.  Have a vet examine him.  Check out the article Five Reasons Your Dog is Extremely Hungry, to learn more about conditions that may affect your pet’s appetite.

  • His food may not be nutritionally adequate.  See Choosing the Best Pet Food for Your Dog’s Health for some tips on choosing dog food that provides key ingredients for your dog.  

Why should you be concerned if your dog eats too quickly?

Have you identified an aggressive eater in your house?  I mean the furry kind.  Dogs who scarf down their food are at risk for many complications, some serious.  

  • He may not be chewing thoroughly.  Not chewing food well enough can lead to choking and/or gagging.

  • A vigorous eater may be overprotective of his food.  Your dog may act aggressive toward anyone who comes near his food, as he sees that person as competition for his meal.  This is especially dangerous in a home with small children.

  • He could experience gastric dilation volvulus or GDV.  GDV (also called bloat) usually affects large breed dogs, and occurs when your dog gulps excessive air, fluid, or food.  The stomach swells and can twist on its axis, making it impossible for anything to pass through the stomach to the intestines.

What can I do to slow my dog’s eating?

My parents tried many things to slow Lily’s eating before landing on the perfect one.  Every dog is different, and what works for one may not work for another.  

  • Feed your dog small meals throughout the day.  By feeding your dog less food, more often, you are decreasing the amount of food he can wolf down at a time.

  • Place a large ball or toy in your dog’s food bowl.  He will have to eat around it, which should slow him down a bit.

  • Use a pet diner, a table that places your dog’s food at chest level.  It provides an ergonomically correct eating position and reduces gas and bloat.

  • Use the Kong Slow Feed Puzzle Bowl.  This is the one that worked for my parents.  Watch the video below to see how Lily went from scarfing down her food in one minute flat, to taking her time as she works around the obstacles in the bottom of the puzzle bowl.



Hopefully these tips will help you slow your aggressive eater, and like Lily’s parents, you’ll find that one strategy that does the trick! If you have an aggressive eater, it may be beneficial to enroll in a pet insurance policy to help protect you from unexpected veterinary bills.

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