Little Dog, Big Appetite

by Sam Mazzotta

Dear Paws4Pets: I have a 7-month-old Chihuahua that treats each meal like it was her last. “Janie” has been like this since I got her at six weeks. She never chews her food, and eats so fast that she chokes. I have had giver her the “Heimlich” on several occasions to make her cough up the food in order to breathe. I have tried soaking her food to make it soft, but she still gobbles it down. I feed her in another room from my two other dogs so she won’t try to run to their food bowl after she gets through. Is there any way to stop her from eating so quickly? – Hiding the Food Bowl in Crossett, AK

Dear Hiding: Gulping food and eating too fast can be problematic for both dogs and owners. In addition to the potential for choking on larger pieces of food, dogs that eat too much at once can also develop a severe gastric issue called “bloat” or GVD (gastric-dilation volvulus) that must be treated immediately by a veterinarian. So dogs with this tendency have to be watched closely by their owners, not just at feeding time but throughout the day, as they will hunt for a food source between meals.

One recommended way to slow down a gulping dog is to place an inedible object in its food bowl that is too large to swallow — like a baseball. More than one object is fine, too. The idea is to make Janie work to get at her food. You could also spread her dry kibble around a large area so she has to run around eating a bit at a time.

You should continue to feed Janie separately from the other dogs and supervise her mealtimes. I also recommend bringing up this issue with her vet to see if any health issues are causing her to gulp food.

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