Dogs eat so fast that dog owners are often puzzled. Where's the rush? It's not like anybody has intention to steal their food! The food is always in good supply and last thing you knew there were never shortages, so why do dogs eat so fast like there's no tomorrow?
Do dogs even get to enjoy their foods or is eating just a mechanical action with not much emotions involved?
These are surely some interesting questions, but in the meanwhile, one thing is for sure: Rover certainly wouldn’t make your best dining companion for a leisurely, five-course meal. By the time you have finished your appetizer, your dog would be already licking his chops upon finishing dessert!
A Matter of Feast or Famine
While it's tempting to compare dogs to wolves, it's important to point out that dogs are domesticated beings and that there are many differences between dogs and wolves.
Yes, it's true that wolves are considered a dog's ancestors, but both parties have split into two separate lineages 27,000 to 40,000 years ago. However, despite this great divergence, dogs have retained certain instincts and the urge to fill up quickly is one of them.
Back in the olden days, a dog's ancestors were hunters, and as such, they were forced to catch their own meals. Now, meals were never predictable. One day they could have had a whole deer to munch on, the next three days they could have had none.
This feast and famine lifestyle meant that, when food was available, it was best to wolf it down as fast as possible, also considering that each member or the group had to get their own fill, and that even after that, there were plenty of other opportunistic animals waiting for any tasty remnants. So yes, in case you were wondering, that is where the saying "wolf it down" comes from.
Ancient dogs therefore filled up to their full capacity, but not just out of gluttony, but because they lived in a feast or famine fashion. While dogs have been around humans for thousands of years, their past evolutionary habits still linger no matter what and eating fast seems to be one instinct that is here to stay.
Did you know? According to the The National Wildlife Federation, adult wolves are capable of consuming 20 pounds of meat in just one single meal! It's a shame though that ravens steal up to one third of a carcass!
A Matter of Competition
Let face it: dogs are not masters when it comes to sharing. Dogs like to try to steal food from each other and other dogs know it. When dogs are therefore placed in closed quarters and fed, there are good chances they may be nervous and sometimes even defensive about it.
Competition sets in and each dog wants to eat as fast as possible so to prevent the other dog from stealing or trying to steal the tasty morsels.
After all, if we think about this, from an evolutionary standpoint, competition over food is an adaptive trait. If animals allowed sharing, they would not have survived.
When a dog's ancestors were eating a meal, they had to therefore eat quickly. If they didn't, ravens, vultures and other opportunistic small mammals like martens or foxes would have stolen a significant portion of the kill.
Dogs feel the same way when they are eating and there are other dogs or animals nearby, and sometimes they may feel competitive too when there are humans. They will therefore eat fast in fear of their food being stolen, and in some cases, some dogs may even growl. and show signs of resource guarding.
As Long as It's Edible
Dog owners often wonder if dogs have any interest in enjoying their foods. Dogs who inhale their foods quickly like there 's no tomorrow don't seem to even have the time to appreciate the taste. They just appear to mechanically gobble their food. Why is that?
Well for starters, if there was ever a taste contest between humans and dogs, dogs would definitely lose. The average person possesses about 10,000 taste buds, while dogs have just a mere 1,500.
Dogs were never crafted for wine tasting nor were they crafted for giving out Michelin stars, as there was no real adaptive purpose for them to need many taste buds. After all, what's the point in savoring foods that were gulped down fast before other animals could steal their portion?
A smaller number of taste buds led to dogs who would happily settle for anything that is remotely edible. All that matters to them is that they get in their nutrients as there is little room for getting passionate about the taste.
However, dogs have special taste receptors that have been crafted to pick up on fats and certain chemicals in meats, not to mention, dogs are blessed with their powerful sense of smell.
As anyone with a head cold can attest, food tastes quite different when the sense of smell is impaired. So a dog's almighty nose might cause dogs to enjoy foods before they are gulped down, while us humans enjoy them as we sit down and chew them.
Did you know? According to a study, Labradors have a gene alteration that causes them to be prone to obesity. Intrigued? Discover more on why Labradors are always hungry.
Now That You Know...
As seen, dogs have several good reasons to eat quickly. Although dogs are now mostly eating kibble from a bag served in shiny food bowls, the instinct to eat fast still prevails.
However, eating fast can cause dogs to ingest too much air and some predisposed dog breeds may even develop bloat, a potentially life threatening condition.
Slowing these dogs down can therefore be beneficial. Following are some tips on how to stop dogs from eating too fast.
- Invest in a slow feeder. Slow feeders come in a variety of shapes and sizes nowadays.
- Put your dog's kibble into a muffin tin. This should slow your dog down considerably. Want to add a challenge? Cover the muffin tins with tennis balls. Your dog will have to remove the tennis balls in order to eat.
- Feed your dog's meal in a Kong Wobbler. This toy wobbles around as your dog nudges and paws at it causing small portions of kibble come out.
- To each their own. If you have several dogs, feed them in separate areas so that they don't feel like competing with one another and eating fast.
- Invest in special dog bowls crafted for dogs who eat fast.
- Give your dog time. Don't be ready to pick up that food bowl the moment your dog finishes eating. This will only teach your dog to eat faster. Instead, let your dog relax, wait for him to leave, and once he's done, pick it up.
- Feed your dog twice a day. If you feed him one large meal, he'll likely feel super hungry and will eat it very quickly.