A Guide to Slow Feeder Bowls for Pets

Eating your meal at a measured pace tends to be considered basic table manners. Try telling that to your pet, though! Many dogs and cats gobble their grub like they haven’t seen any in weeks. One solution for this is a slow feeder bowl, also known as an anti-gulp bowl. Here's our round-up of the best slow-feeding dog and cat accessories out there.

why is my dog eating so fast

Why’s my dog eating so fast?

Like humans, some pets are just enthusiastic foodies – if you’ve ever met a Labrador, for example, you’ll probably recognise the trait. Some other breeds have more wolf-like tendencies in general and that can lead them to – yep – wolf down their meals. Very occasionally, there’s a medical reason why your dog is always hungry, for example, if they have parasites, a disease, or their food isn’t nutritious enough, and your vet should be able to easily help rule these out. Often, it’s because it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and a hungry litter of puppies can be a competitive place to learn about food. They might have had to eat quickly to stop brothers and sisters stealing their grub when they were pups. This can happen in multi-dog households too, and it’s not uncommon for dogs to bully cats for their food either.

Why do you need a slow feeder bowl

Why do you need a slow feeder bowl?

While racing to finish your food like your life depends on it can be a quirky habit in humans that leaves you wondering how your dinner guest didn’t get indigestion, in dogs it can cause serious issues. Vomiting and choking are often the result of a speed snuffle, but dogs can also develop gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) or bloat, which can be lethal. Some breeds – such as Great Danes, Weimaraners and Setters – are more prone to this anyway, but it can happen to any dog, so a slow feeder dog bowl is a good means of prevention. Another reason a slow eating dog bowl can be useful is if you have a canine companion who’s easily bored or needs plenty of mental stimulation. These little mazes, in addition to treat puzzles, help keep their brains ticking over.

What about a slow feeder bowl for my cat

What about a slow feeder bowl for my cat?

Many cats too, for various and often mysterious reasons, also wolf down their meals and then throw them up soon afterwards. Clearly, throwing up all the time is not good for any animal, so a slow eating cat bowl is perfect to stop them scoffing their grub. They also help with weight loss, as they stop your cat finishing its food so quickly and immediately going on the prowl for more. Another reason you might want one is to manage feeding time if you’ve got multiple furry friends. Slow feeding bowls can keep all your cats occupied and stop the dominant one in the household bullying others out of their food.

What types of slow feeder bowls are there

What types of slow feeder bowls are there?

Ridged, maze bowls:

By far the most common kind of slow feeder bowl is the tried-and-tested bowl with an integrated maze. Brands like Jasgood, Decyam and Outward Hound have designs in various sizes for different-sized pups as well as cute colours and, perhaps most importantly, with various different maze types. They’re made from sturdy plastic, ceramic or stainless steel – or in the case of the Pet Impact design, eco-friendly bamboo – so are similar to your normal dog bowl and suitable for wet, dry and raw foods. Dogs with shorter, flatter snouts may prefer a wide and shallow design, like the one from Neater Pets, while furry friends with long noses usually do well with a deep design, like the specialist model by Leashboss.

Non-flip-able bowls:

Some people report the downside that their dog learnt quite quickly to flip their bowl over, giving them quick access to their food and making a mighty mess too. The honeycomb design by Iokheira gets around this issue with a suction cup on the bottom of the bowl, securing it in place. It’s made of silicone though, so worth avoiding for aggressive chewers in favour of something made from more durable ceramic or stainless steel.

Feeder mats:

The first benefit of a mat, like the Outward Hound Fun Mat, is that they’re harder to flip over than bowls, eliminating that handy workaround that some crafty canines have found. They’re also good for fussy eaters. Some cats and dogs baulk at putting their head inside a bowl – perhaps because they feel at risk when doing it – and will find eating from a mat like the Northmate ‘Green’ Dog Slow Feeder more acceptable. Mats are also said to be fun for puppies too. The downside, of course, is that they can be messing when dealing with wet or raw food and they’re slightly less durable by virtue of the fact that they’re flexible.

Elevated feeders:

Elevated feeders still contain the puzzle or maze element that slows down the feeding but are extra comfortable for taller dogs, like Weimeraners, Pointers and Great Danes, for example. The elevated position of models like the Outward Hound elevated slow feed bowl makes it easier for dogs to get at their food and is better for their digestion. This particular model is even adjustable. The Super Design ceramic raised bowl is another trendy-looking option.

Designed for cats:

While many cat owners say that plenty of the doggy designs work for their feline friends, there are lots of cat slow feeders too. One is the Pioneer Pet ceramic Slow Feeding Station, where the bowl is sort of flipped, and the cat needs to work out how to get under it to find its food. The Northmate Interactive Cat Feeder is designed to mimic your cat’s hunting instinct, while soft silicone puzzle mats are good for flat-faced cat breeds that can struggle with deeper bowls.

If the choice on offer feels a little overwhelming, it can pay to keep things simple and just think about your pet’s height, snout or face shape and diet.

As with many things in pet care, finding the right feeder, food and feeding schedule is often a bit of trial and error. That’s why there are some great second-hand Good Finds for pets on Gumtree that have barely been sniffed by their former wag-tailed owners. You can also find brand new pet accessories at fantastic prices if you have your ear to the ground and your nose on the scent.

Thinking of buying a new pet on Gumtree? Find out everything you should know about online pet sellers in our handy guide.