Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Food Bowl Woes

 I'll admit that we use a plethora of things to feed Roxie and a regular food bowl is at the very bottom of the list closet. Literally, in the floor of the hall closet collecting dust when our son isn't fishing it out to use as a boat for his animals.

We have a couple of food dispensing balls that she can roll around, a Buster Cube to roll around, a handful of Kongs and two Kyjen Slo-Feed Bowls that we alternate. We generally stick with the slo-bowls for her meals because her (human toddler) brother likes to help feed her and these are the easiest for him to help with. The Buster Cube we only use if we are heading out for a few hours since it's a little noisy. Her food-dispensing balls are used every other day or more and the Kongs are used a few times a week when I actually have the forethought to fill and freeze it before I leave- room temperature peanut butter is way too easy for her.

Sometimes, during a voyage with animals, the plain food bowl gets left out and our son is amazed that it can also be a vessel for Roxie's food, "like OUR bowl, mom?" Unfortunately, the novelty stops there. If we dare to feed the brat-queen with this strange stainless steel creation, she looks at the bowl and then I swear rolls her eyes before looking at it again and eating. Don't get me wrong, she loves food and this exchange lasts about 18 seconds, but I'm pretty sure she's ticked off about the bowl.
When we use any of the alternative food delivery methods, she jumps around a bit before sitting with her tail wagging so hard her whole body is wiggling around.

Why does she get so excited about eating her food in a different way?
Because it is a more natural way for her to eat. I am not saying she is a wolf and needs to hunt for her own food or that she would be able to catch her own food if she had to, but there is a level of predatory drive that just isn't provided by a plain, easy to eat out of bowl. When she uses the food-dispensing toys like the Buster Cube, the food falls out randomly and she smells around on the floor for it. This may be the messiest way to feed her, but definitely keeps her busy the longest. When she eats out of a Slo-Bowl, she gets to lick around and catch the little pieces of food as they slip away from her in the maze of a bowl. Sometimes, she goes back a few minutes later to see if there were and pieces that she missed. When she eats out of a plain, boring bowl, she comes to find us and glances longingly at her empty bowl. She gets the same amount of food no matter what we use to feed her, but 30 seconds of food feels like less than 10 minutes of chasing it around the living room.
Back to the natural way to eat thing. Dogs have evolved as scavengers in their many years living with people, so having to do a little more than scarf it down from an easy bowl is only natural.
You know what else it is? Mental and physical exercise. Mental and physical exercise are two of the most important things you need to provide your dog to help them be happy and healthy!! As a scavenger, she would have to search out food in all kinds of places and it would not be as easy as finding a bowl with food waiting for her three times a day. Even waaaay back when the common ancestor of current domesticated dogs and wolves was loping around, they were hunters and scavengers- they had to work to get their food.

Also, she eats slower so she is less likely to choke or get bloat or eat so fast that she pukes it all up (she's done this a few times in the past). Now, she's not a large breed so bloat really isn't a concern. I will say that with some dogs, the Slo-Bowls are not ideal to help with bloat because they get so excited/frustrated trying to get each piece that they take in more air, which really isn't what you are after. If your dog swallows a cup of food all at once, try feeding a little at a time and waiting a few minutes before giving more. Of course, with anything medical you should always consult your trusted veterinarian before reading anybody's blog. The food-dispensing balls and food puzzles are great though.

This week, do your dog a favor and recycle or donate that old food bowl and get a new way to feed! There are tons of different kinds out there and there is bound to be one that works for you and your dog.

Please, remember to always supervise your dog with any new toy or feeding device the first few times, so you are certain they won't eat it in addition to the food!

References/some of my favorite alternative feeders:

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