I’ve just recently started reading your column because my hubby was given a delightful Golden Retriever puppy. She’s now three-months-old and has a wonderful disposition. The one concern we have is that she eats like she has never eaten, and this is her last meal. She devours it so quickly and seems almost frantic to finish it. We have bought her one of those maze dishes, but it didn’t slow her down much. Now she just turns the bowl over and devours the food. Is there anything else we can do to slow her down?
-Fran, Long Island, Seaford
There are many ways to slow down a fast eater. Let’s run through them, so you can determine what works best for your puppy.
First, continue to use the slow-down bowl, but add water to the food. Sit with her while she eats so you can keep her from flipping the dish. Hold down the dish and gently correct her with a “Shh” sound, and a quick “no,” if she tries to flip it.
Second, feed her smaller meals throughout the day. Dogs should eat two meals a day, but if you're home with her, feed her smaller, more frequent meals to prevent her from overeating at one meal. Overeating and eating too fast is what causes bloat.
Third, train her to be more patient by handfeeding her a few pieces at a time. Make sure she has thoroughly finished chewing and swallowing before giving her more. Don’t give her any food if she is pawing or whining at you. She needs to sit quietly to eat. Only do this if you are giving her several small meals during the day. Otherwise, it could reinforce her need to devour her food when she sees it. Also, this type of training is not meant to be done indefinitely.
Fourth, put her meal into a simple puzzle toy, like the Kong Wobbler. Dogs have to paw at the wobbler to get it to spin, tip and dispense food (or treats). This will extend her feeding time and give her brain a workout.
Finally, consider getting her a snuffle dog eating mat. Hide her food in the mat and let her natural foraging instincts mimic the hunt for food in grass and fields. Dogs are happiest when they are busy.
Let me know what ends up working for your puppy.
I have a cat that is around 18-years-old. For the past few months, she has been throwing up her food after she eats. I don’t know if it happens every day because sometimes, we do not find the vomit immediately. (It blends in with the flooring). I tried changing her food, giving her less food, adding some water to her food. I have dry food out for her to munch on all day long and give her soft food only in the morning. She doesn’t eat that much of either food. She is a love, but I just can’t figure out what to try next.
-Jayne, Crossville, Tennessee
I am assuming you’ve already taken her to the veterinarian for a heath check. If you haven’t, please do. At her advanced age, there could be a number of health problems causing this issue, so please don’t delay.
If she gets a clean bill of health, there could be other causes. She could be having hairball problems, which can be addressed with hairball supplements. They come in chews, drops, and gels, so determine what’s easiest to administer to your feline. (You don’t have to see hairballs for them to be an issue.)
She also could have developed an allergy or sensitivity to her diet. Some dogs and cats become sensitive to proteins, like chicken, found in most pet foods. Look up “hypoallergenic cat food” or “limited-ingredient cat food” on the internet. As implied, these foods limit the ingredients in the food and have different protein sources to reduce allergies or sensitivities caused by diet. Do your homework as there is both dry and wet food available. These foods cost a little more but are worth it if you have a pet who has digestive issues. The one I like best is Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Cat Food. It has a single protein and a single carb source making it very digestible for sensitive tummies.
But I am worried she has a more serious health problem, so please have her checked out. She is of an age when things can start going wrong.
(Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)
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