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How Dogs Eat

Why do dogs seem to gulp down any and all food put in front of them?

puppies eating

Photo: josephflythe (flickr)

Some puppies eagerly enjoy a meal

If you’ve ever watched a dog eat you’ve probably marveled at how quickly it gulps down its food.  You might even wonder why, no matter how hungry a dog is, it will often eat as much food as you put in front of it.

Dog Manners

Dog owners may be concerned about this behavior, but it poses no problems for the dog.  People chew their food and try to teach their children to eat slowly because digestion for humans begins in the mouth.

Our saliva mixes with food and prepares that food to be broken down into its primary nutrients once it enters the stomach.

A dog’s digestion, on the other hand, doesn’t begin until the food reaches the stomach so they do not need to take time chewing their dinners.

Speedy Eaters

Most dogs probably eat so quickly because in the days before they were domesticated, they had to survive by eating their prey before another dog or scavenger animal stole it.  The evolutionary programming of dogs dictates that they eat and keep moving.  As a species in the wild, they didn’t have the luxury of hanging around and eating at their leisure.

Even their teeth aren’t designed for them to savor their food.  While most of the teeth in a human’s mouth are flat and designed to facilitate chewing, most of the teeth in a dog’s mouth are pointed, and designed to allow a dog to grab its food and swallow it whole.

Hundreds of years of domestication hasn’t changed most dogs’ eating habits very much.  Even if a dog has been given regular, dependable meals every day, it will still gulp those meals down in a flash, ensuring that no scavenger will take its food away.

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  • God is working on me!

    Glad I read this.

  • Theron Winsby

    Dogs DO chew and were meant to chew meat and bones, fish etc. The bones should be in proportion to their size.
    If you feed your dog kibble then yes the dog will basically just swallow it.
    I watch my cattle dog chew raw chicken legs and sardine fish all the time.
    So, Do your dog a favor, and feed it some real food like raw meat, fish and bones once in a while. Bones are good for several reasons – including teeth cleaning.

  • http://www.mysmarttv.ca PG Man

    Omg don’t give your dog chicken bones, that is really bad and wrong! As is raw meat. But let’s talk about bones – they can be deadly, especially cooked chicken and turkey bones, chicken bones in general. They don’t digest, and can harm your dog BADLY. It can cause internal bleeding, as bones lounge into intestines, or choke them. Don’t believe and go by amateur random replies by anybody, it is NOT a wise thing to do. Search feeding dog chicken or turkey bones, and you will find the right answer.

  • http://www.mysmarttv.ca PG Man

    Man, what a Terrible advice by an amateur. The most dangerous thing to feed your dog is chicken and turkey bones, especially cooked. They do not digest and can if not choke them, cause internal bleeding and severe health problems. Google feeding dog chicken or turkey bones. I also assumed this was ok until I got educated.

  • Victory Chicken

    What kind of dog do you have? How do you know the bones don’t digest? I am not trying to argue. I just want real facts. I am open to any and all advice. If I am am amateur, Are you an expert? If so how? I will google but will that make me an expert?

  • Victory Chicken

    Keep in mind I said RAW meat! Raw i the key here. Also make sure your dog is used to chewing and not just “wolfing” down crappy Kibble.

  • http://www.mysmarttv.ca PG Man

    No you’re not arguing but are sure blatant with that sarcasm lol. I wasn’t addressing you at all, but Theron Winsby person above you. I didn’t imply I’m am an expert once, but yes, taking time to google a subject and reading up on several sources can make you very well informed, especially when caring about your beloved pet is in question. Reading a single response from a random person online will never do. After much research, it looks like smaller amounts of bones will possibly be digested due to strong acids in the dogs stomach, but you see, this also depends on the type of a dog it is. A wild dog or wolf always eat bones, but they also end up eating the fur from the animal, which helps coat those bones and when they don’t get digested, they safely pass through the dog. Smaller, domesticated dogs that mainly eat kibbles and such foods like my Shih Tzu dog, bones, especially cooked and brittle and super sharp chicken and turkey bones, can become a very serious, even life-threatening issue! That’s why it is best to not ever feed them those bones. Good idea is to give them a big pork bone, cooked or smoked, a bone they cannot chew through, but can nibble and make their teeth stronger. There are other natural chew sticks from processed bones that don’t go brittle that are very good for teeth cleaning. If your dog ends up eating lots of cooked chicken or turkey bones, you may feed it lots of bread soon after, if they don’t want to eat plain bread, if you still got lunch meat or leftovers, you may dab the bread onto it to give it some smell and flavour from the meat, even though you can’t smell it, a dog can, and it just might eat it. Watch how he poops for the next 3 days, if there is discomfort, if the poop shows sign od blood, if he has diarrhea a lot, or doesn’t poop at all, seems in pain and stops playing or even eating, it is best to take it to the vet for an xray and whatever further must be done. There, don’t I sound like an expert? I am not, and so that’s the trouble. Anyone can with a little effort and an eye on their grammar and vocabulary. So don’t take me or any one individual as a be all end all solution, but keep looking around and comparing information. Have a good day, and try and avoid bones completely. There aren’t any far reaching benefits that would justify feeding bones to your dog that outweigh the negatives. Also don’t feed your dog raw meat, especially chicken and pork. They could get seriously Ill with ring worms and such from contaminated meat, which doesn’t affect us because we cook it.

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