Should You Replace Your Dog Bowl With A Slow Feeder?

Subhead: Three Good Reasons to Consider a Switch

Do you have a chow hound in your household, a dog that inhales food? The kind of dog that can polish off a mean in about five seconds? I do, and I wasn’t sure what to do about it until I discovered the wonderful world of slow feeders.

Slow feeders simply slow your dog or cat down by creating an impediment to gobbling up all their food as fast as they can. Slow feeders limit the amount of food your pet can get with every bite. Even people are being instructed by doctors to slow down at meal time and chew our food to help digestion.

The same applies to our furry friends. Sammie, the English Pointer, is one of those dogs who can’t eat fast enough. She would suck down her food, then ten minutes later she’d be belching. I thought that couldn’t possibly be good for her. Now her slow feeders have corrected that behavior. Meals that were gobbled in mere seconds now take several minutes.

Another benefit is that it gives your dog something to do. While Sammie needed the slow feeder to change her eating style, I put my German Shorthair Pointer on a slow feeder just to give her a challenge. She thinks it’s a game.

Larger breeds susceptible to bloat may benefit most from slowing down their meals. Canine bloat or twisted stomach occurs when a dog eats too quickly and gulps down a lot of air. The air turns into gas in the stomach and causes the abdomen to swell, putting pressure on the heart, lungs and other organs. In serious cases, the stomach rotates and blood vessels and nerves get pinched. The condition can be fatal.

Slow feeders can’t guarantee to prevent bloat but they can help modify the eating behavior that often leads to it.

The market offers a wide variety of slow feeders, and they all work a little differently. Some are harder for a dog to learn than others.

The first video demonstrates the Busy Buddy, which took Sammie the longest to figure out. It’s a container that releases food as the dog plays with it. I almost gave up on this feeder. When Sammie didn’t figure it out initially, I replaced it with something a little easier. But when we tried the Busy Buddy again later, she caught on. Maybe she just needed more time to think this one through.

The Busy Buddy (available in small, medium and large sizes) is designed to be a treat dispenser, but I use it as a slow feeder. With this dispenser you must be thoughtful about the size of the kibble to be used. If your kibble is very small, it will fall out too easily. As you’ll see in the video, I’ve removed the rope so Sammie has a higher success rate with each tip of the bottle.

(Use YouTube video of Yellow Lab plus Sammie video) (busy buddy images on Google)

The second feeder is the Northmate “Green,” which earned the 2013 Global Pet Expo Best-in-Show award for best new dog product. Green is a one-piece molded feeder of hard phthalate-free plastic. Green consists of 43 “blades of grass,” in several sizes and all rounded at the top. These blades replicate the sensation of sniffing through the grass for discoveries, hence the name “Green.”

Green is a one-size-fits-all model designed for both dry and wet food, and it’s extremely easy to use by both owner and pup. I really like the wide base of this feeder as it doesn’t tip or even move while in use.

(pull the video from Lambert Vet Supply or Green site)

Third up is the Kyjen Coral Slo-Bowl Slow Feeder, designed as a natural, healthy and playful experience for dogs. This design requires your dogs to forage for their meals. It presents a maze in which dogs can chase their food, making mealtime a fun hunting game. Dogs quickly learn to chase their food through the maze of ridges and valleys and, because the Slo-Bowl “rewards” their play with bits of food, dogs become more engaged as the meal goes on.

I like this one for my GSP, but some reviewers find it difficult for small dogs. Kyjen does offer other models for smaller dogs.

(video of Libbie with her feeder)

The last group of slow feeders are the interactive puzzles. The puzzles usually hide the food in multiple compartments with covers that your pet (these are designed for dogs, cats and even ferrets) must remove to reach the food.

Nina Ottosson is the leader in this arena with multiple toys under wide distribution with the most popular being the Dog Smart, Dog Brick and Dog Tornado. All three are available in both plastic and wood, and the Ottosson line offers several degrees of difficulty within each product.

(video from Ottosson site or Sammie using hers)

If your dog can benefit from any of these features, stop by your local pet supply store and discuss slow feeders with the staff. And we always advise that you check in with your vet regarding all changes in your feeding regimen.

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Top 10 Things to know about Fostering a Pet

What is Fostering?

Help save a pet’s a life and create space in the shelter for other homeless pets.

From biggest groups like ARL to smallest breed groups.

Your generosity provides young and old, injured and sick, abused and under socialized and death row pets a second chance to live, grow or heal before finding their forever homes.

Fosters are needed for dogs, cats, horses and even bunnies and goats! There are ten things you need to know about fostering pets.

  1. The average stay for a pet in a foster home is about 2 months. Puppies may only stay a few weeks. Certain breeds and senior dogs may stay longer.
  2. You must sign and submit a Foster Application and Agreement for review before you can physically meet a foster pet. Once reviewed, suitable applicants will be contacted for a home visit. Once approved, the pet and parents will be paired based on preferences.

Example questions that are asked on the Dog foster application:

  • Are your family/roommates aware you would like to foster?
  • Are you available for adoption events?
  • Descriptions of the pets in your home
  • Are your pets spayed/neutered?
  • How many people reside in your household?
  • If your yard fenced? Type of fence?
  • Can you provide food?
  • How would you handle a foster dog that doesn’t get along with other dogs?
  • How much time will the dog spend alone during the day?
  • Where will he/she spend time when no one is home? Crate, gate, garage, free roam?
  • List all vets you have used and their contact info
  • List 2 non-relative personal references
  • Do you own a crate?
  • Have you fostered before?
  • Can you take a dog to and from vet care?
  • What kinds of dogs are you able to handle? High energy, senior, puppies, females, exercise, etc
  • Why do you want to foster?
  • How do you feel about Euthanasia?
  • How long can the foster dog stay in your home?
  1. You CAN adopt your foster pet just as long as you meet the requirements necessary for adoption. Actually, foster parents have the first choice to adopt their foster dog, but must go through the same process as everyone else and pay the adoption fee. FOSTER FAILURE!
  2. If you are unable to foster any longer, you can return your foster pet. However, it is extremely stressful for the pet to be moved from home to home. Give the rescue as much notice as possible so they can look for a new home to transfer the pet to.
  3. Prepare your pets – Protect your personal animals. Make sure your animals are up to date with all of their vaccinations.
  4. Prepare your home – Safeguard your belongings. It is necessary to animal-proof your entire house. Pay attention to small and dangerous objects, electrical cords, household chemicals, toilets, children’s toys, poisonous house plants, and more.
  5. Prepare your yard – Check for holes if you have a fenced backyard. Do not leave your foster pet outside unsupervised. Keep the pet on a leash for his/her first few trips outside as he/she explores the new environment.
  6. Have the right supplies – For example, if you already have a cat, you will still need a second litter box for a foster cat. You will also need the space, basic training, toys, exercise, and love.
  7. Be strict with yourself and your foster pet – You cant just be the “cool” uncle or aunt that foster pets get to hang out with and do what they want with no rules or discipline. You will be handing over the foster pet to their future owners, so train them to follow the rules you expect your pets to follow.
  8. Don’t get too attached – be ready to say goodbye – Be prepared to give your foster pet away and remind yourself that it is going to happen. If you have kids, be sure that they understand the situation.

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