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Are Slow Feeders Good for Dogs? Vet-Reviewed Purpose & How to Use Them

Written by: Jordyn Alger

Last Updated on June 19, 2024 by Dogster Team

Retriever dog holding a slow bowl in it's mouth in the kitchen

Are Slow Feeders Good for Dogs? Vet-Reviewed Purpose & How to Use Them

VET APPROVED

Dr. Chyrle Bonk Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Does your dog practically inhale their food? If so, you may want to consider a slow-feeder dog bowl. Slow-feeder bowls are designed to make food harder to get so that your dog has to pick around, gathering a kibble or two at a time. They prevent them from eating large mouthfuls of food at once, thus slowing down the speed of your dog’s eating.

There are several types of slow-feeder bowls available, all with different designs and purposes. If you are curious to learn more about slow feeders and whether or not they are right for your dog, keep reading below.

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Purpose of Slow Feeders for Dogs

Slow feeders are ideal for hungry dogs, and there are many reasons why. First, slow feeders force your dog to eat at a more moderate pace. This reduces the risk of choking, especially if your dog is prone to gobbling everything up as fast as they can without chewing. Slower eating can also prevent overeating and weight gain, which are two issues that regular food bowls cannot combat.

Another benefit of slow feeders is that they provide enrichment. Your dog’s ancestors spent a lot of time hunting for food. In the modern era, most dogs simply receive their meals on a silver platter.

If your dog has hunting instincts they want to engage in, having their food so easily handed to them can be incredibly dull. Slow feeders can make their meals more of a challenge, keeping them mentally and physically enriched.

Some slow feeders are designed with specific purposes in mind. For example, some are made for wet food or spreadable food, aggressive chewers, and dogs who need extra mental stimulation.

Dry dog food kibble in a slow feed Bowl (or slow feeder)
Image Credit: Longfin Media, Shutterstock

How to Use a Slow Feeder

The great thing about slow feeder bowls is that they provide plenty of benefits for your dog with minimal upkeep on your end. Using a slow feeder is simple: just fill it with food like a standard dog food bowl.

Depending on the design of the bowl, it may be a bit harder to clean. Getting into the grooves of the slow feeder will take a little extra work.

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Is a Slow Feeder Right for Your Dog?

Slow feeders benefit many dogs, but how do you know if they are right for yours? While you don’t need a reason to give your dog a slow feeder beyond wanting to moderate their eating pace, there are some other reasons you might want to consider a slow feeder.

Minimize Destructive Behaviors

As mentioned previously, meals served from a standard bowl can be boring for your dog. To entertain themselves, bored dogs can quickly become destructive, so you must provide plenty of enrichment for your pet. Since slow feeders can help keep your dog’s mind busy, they may aid in minimizing destructive behaviors.

Jack Russell Terrier dog eats dry food from slow feeding bowl
Image Credit: Reshetnikov_art, Shutterstock

Alleviate Separation Anxiety

If your dog struggles with separation anxiety, a slow feeder may be able to help. When combined with other separation anxiety solutions, slow feeders can keep your pet distracted and lessen the effects of separation anxiety. While it won’t solve your dog’s problems, it can reduce them.

Reduce the Risk of Digestive Issues

Dogs that eat rapidly may be prone to digestive issues like regurgitation, vomiting, or bloat. Slow feeders force your dog to decrease their feeding pace and reduce the risk of these conditions.

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Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re planning on getting a slow feeder for your dog, you may want to take a look at our frequently asked questions before making a purchase.

How Do You Pick the Right Slow Feeder for Your Dog?

When searching for a slow feeder, pay attention to the product’s design. Does it appear effective at slowing down your dog’s eating habits? If so, it could be right for you.

You should also consider other factors, such as:
  • Safety
  • Value
  • Size
  • Reviews

Consider the material the slow feeder is made with to ensure it is safe for your pet. You can also use reviews from other pet parents to determine whether a particular slow feeder is right for you.

Slow feeding bowl for dogs or cats filled with treats and food
Image Credit: Stely Nikolova, Shutterstock

Can Wet Food Be Placed in a Slow Feeder?

Whether or not you can place wet food in a slow feeder will depend on which slow feeder you buy. Some are built specifically for wet food, while others are not designed for it.

In some cases, wet food can become trapped in a slow feeder and lead to bacterial growth. If you want to give your dog wet food in a slow feeder, ensure it is built for spreadable food and is well-cleaned between each feeding.

Are Slow Feeders Good for Puppies?

Yes, slow feeders are a great option for puppies! They are especially helpful for puppies that have made a habit of eating too quickly, and they can break the habit early on.

However, some slow feeders can be a bit confusing for puppies, so you may need to provide extra guidance while they figure out their new food bowl.

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Final Thoughts

Slow feeders are excellent tools for dogs that eat too quickly. They can also be used to manage other issues, such as destructive behaviors, separation anxiety, and digestive issues. Whatever your reason for buying a slow feeder, make sure that it is the right material, size, and design for your pet. The better suited it is for your pet’s needs, the better your results will be.


Featured Image Credit: Zuzanna Paluch, Shutterstock

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