Give Now

A Moment of Science

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.

  • Pingback: 10 Awesome Things To Know About Your Pet | A Moment of Science - Indiana Public Media

  • 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.

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science