Monday, August 3, 2009

Slow Down, Horsey

I have been feeding the dogs a homemade raw diet for about 10 years now. Having witnessed the benefits with my own eyes on my german shepherds, Jasper & Sammy, I could not in good conscience ever go back to commercial feeding without a very very very good reason.

Because all the dogs I've ever had tend to be gulpers, I grind most of their food for fear of choking on a whole meaty bone (even though most raw fed dogs do fine with whole bones, which have added benefits over ground).

The problem--well, not really a problem, just the way it has been--is that the dogs usually just open up their jaws, scoop up a big hunk, and then swallow. I exaggerate not when I say that most dogs take about 5 seconds to finish their bowl.

I didn't like how quickly they gobbled up their food, but as long as it didn't cause issues, I was ok with it. I've heard enough horror stories about bloat to be freaked out--though they have always involved kibble, not fresh raw food.

But last night, I decided I was going to try to figure out a way to make them slow down for once. Even though it may not cause any noticeable or long-term problems, I'm sure eating so quickly can't be good for them. Plus, considering the time I put into creating such gourmet canine feasts, I would like each meal to last longer.

So I did some internet research and found dog bowls that have been specifically designed to slow down the doggy gourmand.

The concept is the same with all of them. Provide some kind of obstruction in the bowl so that the dog can't stick his whole muzzle in to grab a mouthful and instead has to go around the protrusions to get to the food, which will slow him down. I think as long as you get the right sized bowl for your dog, it should work very well (although I imagine washing it might be a pain).

The problem with all of these bowls though is that they are plastic. I prefer ceramic or stainless to minimize the possibility of bacteria growth, especially considering that raw meat is used.

I read online that you can also just put a tennis ball in the bowl and it works the same way, but again, no-can-do with raw meat. So then I found this.

Durapet Stainless Steel Slow Dog Feed Bowl. There's just one big bump in the middle, so it probably doesn't slow the dog down as much as the plastic bowls above. But, again assuming you have the right size for your dog, it should still slow them down somewhat. I ordered the smallest one for Popeye last night. If I like it, I'll get a couple more for Boomer and Phoebe.

In the meantime, I tried to create a makeshift version of the Slow Feed Bowl at breakfast this morning and I was very happy with how much slower it forced the dogs to eat. I just took a small ceramic bowl, flipped it upside down, placed it in the middle of the dogs' regular bowl and then filled the perimeter around the small bowl with food.

Worked like a charm. I would say it took the dogs at least a full minute to finish their meal. That may not sound like a lot compared to how long we humans take to eat, but compared to the usual 5 seconds, a minute is almost like eternity.

The only problem to that method is that as the food is eaten, the center bowl starts to move around and clanks against the bigger bowl. Phoebe is a big wuss about things like that and it scares her.

The one possible problem I see with the Durapet bowl is that there may still be too much space between the outer bowl and the center bump, allowing the dog enough room to chomp down on a big portion of food. If the Durapet bowl doesn't work, I'm wondering if this would:

Just flip the bowl upside down, like you see in the bottom right image, and feed the food in the crevice. The problem with that is that the bowl is likely to skid that way, so you'd need a rubber surface.


Wild Dingo said...

OMG neat. i really need to figure out how to feed raw, like organically and easily. its a major pain in the butt to do daily shopping when you live and work in the mountains. i really should get a raw feed book and learn how to store raw (for freezer) and feed raw. i'm scardey-cat tho of learning new things.

there's a GREAT no spill bowl for water. i'm dying to try it since both my dogs are sloppy drinkers and it supposedly keeps the dog from making a mess around the bowl. i had to put the water outside for them because it would be a slip-n-slide in my house if it was in the kitchen! i've seen demo's of the bowl and you can put it on the roof of a car and bang the car into another car at 40mph and no water comes out, yet the dog can still drink from it... wild.

fosterdogblog said...

I've heard that ceramic bowls are the best for water--don't know why or if that's true. But it's what we use (just b/c ceramic bowls come in so many pretty designs). The ones we have are weighted down on the bottom so they won't slide or tip over (but it does make for heavy bowls--not fun to wash). We elevate the water bowl on a little shelf and put a towel under it and never have issues with sliding.

I would be really interested to learn more about the water bowl you're talking about just because it sounds pretty cool.

Now if someone will just invent something to catch the waterfall that spills down the dogs' chins right after they drink . . .

Wild Dingo said...

the chins...that's what i'm talking about...half of loki's water comes OUT of his mouth...i'll email you the link...

Anonymous said...

Can you use non toxic glue to attach a small disk on the inside of the large one. Does not have to be upside down I imagine as long as it does not move. Good Luck and hug hugs for all the love you show your furry friends.
Blissings, Laura

fosterdogblog said...

Hmm, that's an interesting idea. I've never used glue like that. I'm wondering though if the juices from the raw meat would seep under the disk?

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

just tinking, maybe it's these Bowls that were meant in the first comments:

You can't really see it in the picture, the bowl has a top that is bent to the inside, so the water catches there and does not spill. We've got one like that outside on our little balcon, but ours is plastic, haven't got round to replace it after testing. Works just fine though, no spilling.

And i read somewhere (on a german shop site) that the food bowls with the little spikes/towers in them (brake fast bowls) can be ordered in stainless steel from the producers. Apparently they think, only vets, clinics and breeders use bowls made of stainless steel...

Peggi Sue said...

I just stumbled upon your dog Popeyes story via LOL dogs! I am enjoying reading about what you do, and I too have a 'food inHALER' as opposed to 'tasting the stuff'...

And I too have researched the idea of different dishes and thought, as you, that the plastic was out. Youre idea of inverting the stainless steel dish is amazing, and another suggestion of NOT inverting the smaller ceramic dish was good as well.

Bless you for all you do for these precious creature and know that in writing about them, with your trails and errors you are helping others!

My friend rescued a GSD puppy in August of 08, (or was it 07, man has it been that long?) named him Quent and spent the next 6 months transporting him from one vet to another, specialists at Ohio State even.

Quent was finally diagnosed with Quadracept Contracture of both his hind legs and after much soul searching it was decided to 'leave him the way God made him' and he is just a happy go lucky goofball of a dog, all who meet him just love him. Doing a search on You Tube of Sweet Quent will start you in the right direction.

Again, Bless you for all that your doing for these precious fur-babies.