QUESTION: Our young dog eats too fast and swallows his dry food whole, which causes him to throw it up within minutes after eating. I have reduced his portions drastically, so that he can only swallow small amounts. Now I have to feed him so often, it is ridiculous. He seems to feel the need to eat quickly so as not to miss out on anything else going on in the house or with his family. He usually won't eat unless someone is in the room with him and will quit eating if we leave the room, unless he is really hungry.

ANSWER: There are many reasons for this so I will list the main ones as I don't know enough about your puppy. All can cause a dog to wolf it's food down to the point of gagging or regurgitating the food when consumed to fast.

(1) The usual reason is simply not being fed enough. The dog is just plain hungry. "Many times a person is following the recommended portion of food on the container and for that particular dog it simply is not enough food". Especially if the dog is a high energy dog who is burning the calories off quicker than receiving them. And/or a young, growing pup. Medium to large breeds of dogs are all pups well into their first year of life, up to 20 months old for very large, heavy breeds. With some smaller breeds reaching maturity from 1 year to 14 months. NOTE: Under this heading is also an incorrect diet. Human food or a poor quality type of dog food which is passing through the intestinal tract, only partly being digested, which again means the dog is always hungry because its system is demanding a better food source. The required nutrients simply are not present in the diet.

(2) BOREDOM. Some dogs lead a very boring life (often are alone for long stretches of time OR have to beg for attention/demand attention from the owners). Over disciplining or under disciplining actually either makes the dog display "Submissive Behavior" or become even more of a "Can't Let You Out Of My Site" begging for some/more time spent with it. They wolf their food down to the point of gagging and/or regurgitating the food so that they can get back to following their humans around. Often these types appear to not want to even eat unless the person(s) are right in the room with them. Recommendation is more outside exercise (especially off leash where they can run and leap and jump freely but preferably WITH THEIR HUMAN(s), hands on play time and learning (being taught things, dogs love to learn and please their owners).
More toys (but not all at once)! Give them just two or so of their toys per day and switch to the dogs other toys often, putting those ones away. Especially CHEW Toys such as "Good Quality Rawhide Chews" that take awhile to devour. Always throw them in the garbage once down to only a piece of the Chew Bone to prevent the dog choking on the remaining end of it.
Lots more time spent with the dog. And, YES, they will eat if your not in the room. No healthy dog will starve itself because you aren't there to pay attention to it as it eats. Simply put the food down and walk away. They will figure it out.

(3) The dog is spoiled. Over loved. It reaches the point where it just wolfs the food down in order to get back to being coddled and picked up and played with. NOTE: These types can be just the opposite though too. They may barely eat, only a piece here or there and often are so spoiled, they end up making the owner think, they simply won't eat if not "Hand Fed". And "Hand Fed" only special things it likes. Which is not true. No HEALTHY dog will starve itself. They will eventually eat what is given to them by themselves.

(4) STRESS: Dogs are very sensitive to stress in their home (territory). A dog who feels that his beloved owners are stressed, may become stressed themselves because they sense it. These dogs often wolf their food down, etc and either always are under foot or may instead go into semi hiding out of the way under tables or in corners. They eat quickly to get it over with because they are tense and/or nervous.

(5) Other pets, especially other dogs. It is a Hereditary Instinct left over from their wild relatives from long ago. They wolf down their food to make sure they get their share of the food as wild canines only get to eat when food is available. Especially if the other dog(s) is/are dominate over them.

(6) Never had enough to eat in their past home(s). Once a dog has been incorrectly fed or even starved for food, they can develop the habit of wolfing food down. This is a next to impossible habit to break, which is understandable. Especially if other pets (usually other dogs in the home) See number 5 above.

(7) We have discussed Mental Anguish above in number 4. If a dog is in a low level amount of Physical pain continually, 24/7, it may eat rapidly to either take it's mind off the pain and/or because of the pain. This is most often seen with "dental/mouth" pain or "internal digestive system" pain. While most dogs with such physical pain eat slowly or not enough, some actually do eat more rapidly.

(8) The dog or puppy desperately needs to be dewormed. Internal Parasites rob a dog of many required nutrients, making them always hungry.

First a visit to the Vet to rule out any Physical reason. A thorough examination should be done. Followed by blood work and urine/stool Analysis for a complete diagnosis. Then go from there on the usual reasons listed above. It is always recommended to feed such dogs the correct amount but divided into 4 feedings per day. It is also a good idea to buy such toys as "KonK" toys where pieces of food are placed inside the toy and the dog must worry and harass the toy to get the pieces of food out. This relieves "SOME" of the dogs Boredom and Stress.

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