has written in about her dog, Molly, a spayed female
Labrador retriever. Molly is "absolutely
crazy" about her food, and quickly gulps her kibble
down at every meal. Once she is certain there is no more
food available, Molly calms down, but Julie is worried
about her ‘vacuum cleaner’ impersonation every time
she is fed. She inhales her food so quickly that she
often chokes it back up again.
goes on to say that she has begun to give her more at
each meal now, thinking Molly is "starving"
due to her behavior, and is exceeding the feeding
guidelines on the bag of dog kibble for a dog her size.
are lots of dogs out there that fit your description,
Julie, and there can be many contributing factors,
including metabolic rate, quality of food, and
competition from other dogs. There can also be medical
reasons for this behavior to occur, including
hyperthyroidism, which is a disease that causes an
overproduction of the hormone thyroxin. Symptoms of
hyperthyroidism include ravenous appetite, weight loss
and hyper activity. So before making any other changes,
Julie, I’d suggest a thorough examination and blood
work up at your veterinarian’s office.
there are no physical problems at the root of this
behavior, then I’d start getting creative in other
ways. First, I’d suggest you look carefully at the
type of food you are offering. Dogs require a diet of
about 70 percent protein, and contrary to what is in a
lot of commercial dog food, they are not big grain
eaters. Make sure the quality of the food offered is
high, with no grain in the formula.
Molly is fed in the company of other dogs, or even the
family cat, I’d change the routine to be sure she eats
alone. Sometimes the mere presence of another pet can
cause the dog to accelerate the eating process. Molly
may consider other pets as competition, and she
definitely doesn’t want to share, so may eat faster as
you will need to do something to physically slow Molly
down during meal time. You can discard the food bowl and
toss her kibble all over the floor, or place it single
layer in a shallow pan. Doing so will require that Molly
pick up each piece of kibble individually, instead of
successfully gobbling up mouthfuls at a time. Don’t
expect her to do a lot of chewing. Dogs are carnivores,
and their teeth are shaped to bite, tear and shred food,
not grind it to a pulp.
option is to buy a specialty food bowl; one with
separators built right in, which causes the kibble to
settle in numerous, little compartments within the bowl,
forcing the dog to really slow down and work to retrieve
each little piece. You could also get more creative, and
offer Molly her food in a type of puzzle. There are
numerous toys on the market that are specifically
designed to hold a full meal; my favorites include the
Buster Cube and the Kong Wobbler. There are various ways
to make these toys dispense some of the food, but it
usually involves nosing or pawing it around in some way,
and a little kibble at a time falls out. Some of these
toys can stretch out a meal to last 30 minutes or more.
The benefits of making sure Molly slows down while
eating almost pale in comparison to the mental
stimulation they provide; a win-win for your dog. These
options may give Molly the feeling of getting more at
each meal, although in reality you will only be adding
to the length of time, not increasing the amount of
are well known for their love of food and mealtime.
Consider offering Molly more activities that involve
food, but not her kibble. For example, offering her a
big femur bone to chew on a few days a week will likely
please her to no end, while the additional calories
consumed will be minimal.
when looking for guidelines as to how much kibble to
feed your dog, forget about what the label on the food
bag recommends; look to Molly’s actual weight and
activity level to determine how much to feed her. Start
with a fixed, measured amount, then weigh her, reassess,
and adjust the quantity every couple of weeks until you’re
certain that the amount of food you’re offering her is
keeping her at a healthy weight. If you’re not sure
whether or not she is overweight, ask your veterinarian
to assess Molly for you. "Bon appetit," Molly!