Have you ever noticed your dog gulping down his food without even chewing it? Sometimes this behavior can upset the dog’s stomach which may lead to your dog throwing up whole food pieces. However, often times your dog is perfectly fine after eating a whole meal without chewing once. That leads us to wonder, why dogs don’t chew their food. Many pets exhibit this behavior, including cats. Yet the way dogs are built is a key reason behind why they sometimes eat this way. Dogs don’t understand the concept of savoring your food like humans do. Their instincts are more to fill their bellies instead of a need to taste food.
The Root of the Behavior
There are several reasons why dogs don’t chew their food. First of all, this type of behavior goes back to their instincts or pack mentality. In the wild as a dog, you eat your food fast and move on for your own safety. Also, food scavenged for would be divided among the pack, so you would quickly grab the food that was yours and eat fast in order to avoid fights within the pack.
Another reason behind this swallowing behavior has to do with the biology of the dog. A canine throat is meant to stretch and be able to swallow whole pieces of food at once. This is something humans really cannot do without choking. Also, unlike the flat teeth of humans which are meant for savoring and tasting our food, dogs have pointy teeth that allows them to quickly grab and eat much larger pieces at once.
Also, a good thing to point out is your dog's environment. For instance, if you have several dogs, your dog may fear it has to fight for food and which will lead to him eating at a much faster rate. Or, if you use a glass or metal bowl to feed your dog that allows for the dogs tags to clank on it or loud movement it can frighten your dog into eating faster.
The bottom line on this swallowing food whole behavior is that dogs are built to swallow this way and many things can trigger this instinct in them. It is not always the safest idea for your dog to eat too fast and not chew. This can at times lead to an upset stomach or some dogs may even choke. The best thing you can do is realize what is triggering this behavior and try to remedy it for your dog before it becomes an issue.
Encouraging the Behavior
In order to slow your dog down and help him not to swallow food whole, there are several things you can do. First of all, make sure that his eating environment is relaxing and does not feel like a hostile place to eat. You can also help him to slow down and chew his food by moistening his food with water or switching to wet food. Another alternative is to get larger kibbles that will stop him from swallowing too many whole pieces. The dog food bowl that you use may also be the problem. It is much better to have a larger bowl with a single layer of food in it. A small bowl with multiple layers of food will encourage your dog to eat more pieces whole at a faster rate. It is also a good idea to swap out the metal or glass bowl for a plastic bowl instead. This will cut down on the noise. Not only that, it is recommended to heighten the bowl off the ground in order to have it closer to the dog's mouth. This will help your dog feel like his food is safer and as if he does not have to protect it as much.
Other Solutions and Considerations
The way your dog eats is natural instinct for them. You can ease the tension and help them chew food more properly just by changing a few things like their food or bowls. But do not worry too much about this habit unless it becomes a digestive problem. Dogs will be dogs after all.