Does your dog eat too fast? Mine certainly does! I wondered how to slow down his eating but without spending a lot of money, or getting too fancy. I decided to do a head to head test. I gathered different recommendations, nine different methods to do just that. I tried, tested, recorded, and timed to see what worked the best.
Here are the nine methods tested and compared:
- Fresh Parsley
- Dried Parsley
- Physical Obstacle In Dish
- Floor Feeding
- Slow Feeder Bowl
- Tray Feeding
- Muffin Baking Tin
- High Texture Feeding Mat
- Kibble With Dried & Fresh Parsley
Using dry kibble, the method that worked the best to slow down my dog’s eating is-
Pouring it directly onto a hard surface floor. This slowed my dog’s eating down by over 34%, a full 23 seconds, longer than the runner up, and over 300%, a full minute slower, than his eating out of his traditional bowl.
The runner-up was spreading the dog food onto a spiky textured silicone mat on the floor, which slowed his eating by over 126% than out of his bowl.
My favorite for simplicity and ease of use with multiple dogs is adding dried parsley on top of the dog food. This method slowed my dog’s eating by 70%. Read on to see the other 5 methods tested and their results.
To set up this testing, I fed my dog Jackson, a 50-pound boxer mix rescue dog, a measured amount of dry kibble, and recorded him eating it. I then uploaded these recordings into an editing program and determined the time stamps between when he started eating until he finished.
My dog is fed 2 times a day, so I had plenty of opportunities to record his eating. To see each of these tests, click on the video link below to watch on YouTube.
Dry Kibble In A Bowl
This is the control measurement to test the rest against. My dog gets 3 scoops of dry kibble He has been trained to not touch his food until given the ok to do so to prevent rushing at the dish or knocking us over when we feed him.
For the sake of filming, whenever possible, the food was given in a clear glass bowl, raised up so filming could be done from underneath where you can see the action. This was inspired by filming him drinking water at a slow speed to see how dogs actually drink, It was very interesting, it inspired a “Who knew?” response from me. If you want to see how a dog’s tongue cups under, not up, to drink, check it out on YouTube here.
Jackson ate his food in 30 seconds flat. I am sure we can slow him down.
Fresh parsley is used to freshen doggie breath. Here I tested to see if it would also slow down his eating any. If nothing else, it will help with his breath and maybe his digestion too! I put the dried kibble food in first, then added the parsley. The fresh parsley I snipped into bits with scissors, leaves, stems, and stalks right on top of the food. My dog took 32 seconds to eat this time.
Fresh parsley isn’t always handy, so I tested dried parsley. First the dog kibble, then about 3 tablespoons of dried parsley (go big or go home). This did slow my dog down. It took 51 seconds for him to eat his food. The dried parsley didn’t turn him off, he licked the bowl clean.
Physical Obstacle In Dish
I theorized a physical obstacle would slow a dog down, having to push it aside to get to his kibble. I used an empty Kong chew toy. First the dog kibble, then placed the Kong on its side on top of the food.
I had high hopes for this method and was sure it would slow my dog down. It was not as effective as I had hoped. This is why I trialed these methods. The results are sometimes surprising.
Even with the Kong to push out of the way, my dog was finished eating his dinner in 36 seconds. Only 6 seconds more than with no obstacle.
What happens if there are no walls to contain the dog kibble? This was very effective in slowing my dog down in eating. This took him an entire minute more to eat than in his bowl. The final count was 91 seconds from start to finish. This was not my favorite method, and if you are feeding multiple dogs, this will not be ideal.
Slow Feeder Bowl
This one I went out and purchased a stainless steel slow feeder bowl. Easy to clean, which just ended up meaning, easy for my pup to clean out as well. This bowl slowed him down to 33 seconds. An underwhelming 3 seconds longer than he ate without the slow feeder bowl. If you use different food than us, or a larger dog, this is a good choice for you because of its durability, easy-clean, and non-slide silicone base. Pick one up from Amazon here.
Feeding on the floor was so successful in slowing Jackson down in eating his dog kibble. How could I use this in a way that I liked better than dumping dog food on the floor? A tray was just the ticket.
In my test, I used the top cover of a plastic tote, but a boot tray would be a good choice. Keep the food contained, and off the floor while still slowing your dog down. This method slowed my dog down to 64 seconds, more than double the time eating, over his bowl.
Muffin Baking Tin
This physically puts the food in separate mini bowls that slow your dog’s eating speed. It took my dog 56 seconds to eat, almost double out of just his bowl straight. It did a good job of slowing him down, was tidy, and used something you most likely have at home already. But I personally didn’t like cleaning all those little bowls of doggie slobber…and then to think about making muffins later. I would consider this on a regular basis if I had a dedicated tin just for the dog bowl.
High Texture Feeding Mat
This is a flexible mat found in the baking aisle to cool cookies or drip excess coating off your baking. It was almost as effective as feeding directly on the floor, at 68 seconds. HOWEVER, in trying to get at the kibble, my dog would accidentally get the raised nibbs of silicone in his teeth. A hard surface with the mountain & valley texture instead would be an ideal substitution. Kibble With Dried & Fresh Parsley
This is dog kibble with both dried and fresh parsley used simultaneously as an additive on top. My theory is to get the best of both worlds, the fresh breath benefits from fresh parsley, and the slow-down benefits of dried parsley. I was surprised to find the slowdown effect was not cumulative, but my dog actually ate this combination a little faster, 46 seconds, than dried parsley alone, 51 seconds, on his kibble.
|Method||Time To Eat||Percent More Time To Eat Than Straight Kibble|
|Kibble Alone||30 Seconds||0%|
|Fresh Parsley Added||32 Seconds||6.6%|
|Dried Parsley Added||51 Seconds||70%|
|Kong Added||36 Seconds||20%|
|Floor Feeding||91 Seconds||203%|
|Tray Feeding||64 Seconds||113%|
|12 Muffin Tin Feeding||56 Seconds||86.6%|
|Flex Silicone Mat Feeding||68 Seconds||126.6%|
|Dried&Fresh Parsley Added||46 Seconds||70%|
|Slow Feeder Bowl||33 Seconds||10%|
After testing and timing all of these methods and comparing them to my dog just eating out of his bowl, there are ones that worked the best, and then there are some of my personnel favorites.
The method that slowed his eating down the most was kibble direct on the floor. However, as mentioned above, not always the best choice. My personnel favorite is Parsley, dried, or fresh. Whichever is most handy. I prefer this method because it has more benefits than just slowing my dog’s eating down, it actually adds to my dog’s nutrition and helps with his doggie breath. As well as it is easy and convenient. For travel, I like to use the hard mat, if a clean one is at hand, or the simplicity of the kong in his bowl. I travel with his kong anyway, so this does not take any more planning or packing room, big bonuses.
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