Meet Whiskey. A sweet, smart, loving and happy-go-lucky dog. He was about six months old when we adopted him, and we were swept up by his joyful energy.
Unfortunately, he was swept up by his joy of eating. We watched in amazement as he devoured his food in seconds. “This can’t be good,” we agreed. Our elderly Chow, Audrey, has Bloated more times than we or our vets can believe. Unfortunately, we’ve become amateur experts on the deadly condition known as “Bloat” (aka Gastric Torsion or Gastric Dilation).
Simply put, Bloat is a painful and potentially life-threatening condition in which the stomach twists and does not empty but continues to digest, releasing gas in the process, which cannot escape. The dog’s stomach increases in size, bloating like a basketball, filling with air. If veterinary help is not sought immediately, the dog will die (and quite painfully).
While the causes of Bloat are still unknown, the advice we received from our veterinarians to try to prevent this disorder included not exercising right before or after meals, feeding two or more small meals throughout the day, rather than one large meal, adding a bit of liquid to a dry kibble diet, and discouraging the dog from eating too quickly. While the genetic factors that make a dog prone to a greater risk of Bloat are out of our control, at least we can make dietary modifications to help lower the risk.
Now, as we watched Whiskey inhale his food, we knew we had to do something. Nothing that I tried seemed to work. I fed him by hand, but this only seemed to make him more ravenous and eager to get to the food I was too-slowly doling out. He was already on a twice-a-day feeding schedule, and I always mix some healthy canned food in with his healthy dry.
I tried putting a tennis ball into his bowl, but this just made a mess, didn’t slow him down, and didn’t seem very sanitary.
On the verge of giving up, I happened to visit a pet boutique in Santa Fe. There on display, I saw the Brake-Fast bowl. It had the unusual shape of a plastic bowl with three plastic humps in the middle. “Speed bumps!” I told my husband. I figured it was worth a try, and brought it home, eager to see what Whiskey thought.
That night, the food went into the bowl, I placed it down in front of Whiskey, and watched in amazement as he ate his dinner. No wolfing occurred. Instead, he carefully ate all around the bowl, managing to get every drop, in about four times the amount of time it took him prior to the Brake-Fast bowl. It was incredible! Those ‘speed bumps’ really slowed him down.
We were thrilled, and Whiskey seemed very happy with the process (and his new dinnerware).
To anyone who has experienced the anguish of a pet with bloat, you can appreciate the importance of doing anything you can to try to prevent it. The Brake-Fast bowl is great design that truly slows your dog’s eating rate.
At DogParent, we highly recommend the Brake-Fast bowl. It comes in three sizes, depending on the size of your dog. And you can read more about Bloat here.