The Slow Food Movement: How to Feed Your Dog Properly

Wolfing down an entire day's worth of food in under a minute can lead to serious digestive problems


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Wolf–verb (used with object) 9. to devour voraciously (often fol. by down): He wolfed his food.

What your dog eats is important, yes, but so is the way he eats. Scarfing down a day’s worth of food in 30 seconds can lead to digestive problems, bloat, or even a deadly condition called gastric torsion. Here are some tips on how to feed your dog, regardless of what you feed.

1. Feed your dog twice a day. I’d often heard that since dogs are carnivores and thus evolutionarily adapted to go for long stretches between meals, you can feed them once a day. Then Sue reminded me that dogs aren’t carnivores, they’re scavengers—and in the case of Danger, panivores. One larger meal a day will work, but two will lead to better digestion, less bloat, and less hunger-related anxiety around the house. Remember to subtract the calories of any treats or scraps you give your dog from his food bowl.

2. Get a bowl that forces your dog to slow down. You can buy bowls that have posts in them, or, if you have a bowl with a hollow rim (pictured), just turn it over and feed from the edge.

3. Give your dog a quiet area to eat. If Cooper approaches while Danger is eating, Danger aggressively inhales his food as a defense.

4. Have your dog offer a behavior, like a sit, before you set the food down. If you can manage, also require him to sit still until you release him to eat. (A dog that knows to release by name will learn other name-related tasks easier, too.)

This article originally appeared on Outside K9, the former dog blog of Outside magazine, on October 5, 2009.

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