Handmade Slow Feeders

by Jim Chesters

Dogs who eat too rapidly can choke. They can also swallow a lot of air, make themselves sick and are at risk for bloat, a life-threatening condition where the stomach can distend and rotate.Rapid eating is also not a rewarding use of a dog’s time. Instead using a slow feeding device or technique means the dog has to think and work for his or her food which is both stimulating and enriching and can help reduce risks.

Daisy from Love-A-Bull

There’s plenty of slow feeders and activity toys available on the market if your organization has the budget for them (they’re also great products to request as donations) but there’s also some do-it-yourself ways to create one.

The videos below come from Bobby and Bella and demonstrate two different types of bottle feeder games. Holes are drilled in plastic bottles so that they can be suspended by a rod a few inches off the ground. This lets the bottles spin freely around the rod so, when filled with food, the dog has a challenging puzzle to solve for dinner. There are also some less complicated ways to develop slow feeding methods for your pets. One cheap and easy method comes from the Charleston Animal Society. Take the cardboard tube from a paper towel roll, twist one end shut, fill it with food and then twist the other end closed. Give it to your dog or freeze it for later.

Some stainless steel dog bowls, when turned upside down, have a concave ring around the convex hump of where the bowl is. Simply pouring the food in this ring and serving in the upside down bowl can make a dog slow down to eat. If your bowls aren’t built like this you can also create a similar effect by placing a tennis ball in the middle of the dish, requiring your dog to eat around the ball.

Offering these type of slow feeding enrichment meals is one way to keep the pets in your care healthy and mentally active, and with some creativity they can be created while keeping your budget intact.