The passion that dogs put into eating can be a little off-putting to the people who feed them – and who have to watch their terrible manners. There’s the drooling and whining. The unseemly snorting as they bury their faces in their food. And, worst of all, the regurgitation that may occur afterward. This, too, is part of nature’s plan.
When wolves stuffed themselves with 40 pounds of meat, their bodies couldn’t actually process that much at once. So they would waddle away from the table, throw up a little bit, then eat it to get the nutrients.
Dogs are a lot smaller than wolves, and it doesn’t take 40 pounds of meat to turn their stomachs. That’s why the kibble you pour in the bowl occasionally gets deposited in the corner a few minutes later. This has nothing to do with physical health or social graces. Their brains and stomachs are telling them that dogs who waste not, want not, and so they follow orders.
Given a chance to raid the food bag, most dogs will instantly revert to their old habits. Even when they don’t eat a lot, they do eat fast, and eating fast means that what goes in is going to try to come out.
Here are a few ways to protect the floors and keep their stomachs calm.
1. Give them more time: Dogs learn from experience. If you always pick up the food bowl the minute they’re done, they’ll figure that they’d better eat faster just in case you pick it up early. Leaving the bowl on the floor for 10 to 15 minutes after it’s empty will help them understand that they don’t have to rush.
2. Wet the food: Most dogs like a little gravy with their meals, and moistening dry food with warm water makes it more appealing. More important, it makes it easier to digest. Dogs are less likely to toss up their food when it’s not in hard chunks.
3. Give them less food, more often: Even though dogs are designed to handle very large meals, it’s better for their digestion to eat smaller amounts, more often. Veterinarians often recommend feeding dogs at least twice a day. Some say it’s better to feed them three, four, or even five times a day. The total amount of food will be the same, but the leisurely pace will help ensure that it stays where it’s supposed to.