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.