If your chowhound inhales food at an alarming rate, a slow feeder is an essential tool. Slow feeding dog bowls are incredibly effective, and not just for dogs that eat fast, but all dogs!
Just like in humans, slowing down and better-chewing foods significantly improve digestion, resulting in less bloat, less gas, reduced regurgitation, chocking and general better gut health. In addition, slow feeder bowls are mentally stimulating for your dog. Mental exercise is an important yet often overlooked way to help develop a healthy and well-balanced pup.
Tip: Did you know that slow feeders can increase the amount of time it takes a dog to finish a meal up to 10 times! No, they won’t hate you for making it take that long, in fact in the long run, they will love you for it.
Dog’s eating too quickly is no joke. Continued over extended periods of time, inhaling foods can cause life-threatening conditions, from the more immediate chocking, to gastric torsions or twisted stomach. Thousands of dogs suffer a twisted stomach in the US every year, and one of the leading causes is known to be eating too quickly and overeating. Slow feeders assist with both of these issues with minimal effort.
That is what made the slow feeder so popular in recent years, and why we have SO MANY options. There are a great variety of feeders to choose from, and though that is fantastic, it can also leave some overwhelmed with choice.
Which Slow feeder is going to best for my dog?
What we need in a slow feeder is merely something that is effective, safe and durable. We considered the following three metrics in our assessment:
Puzzle Style & Difficulty:
Which dog slow feeder puzzle shape is best? Our personal preference is for puzzle shapes that move the food toward the center of the bowl and in some cases (like the Orange Outward Hound) change in difficulty level as it gets closer to the center. That being said, the difficulty level of most slow feeders are very similar, different shapes and puzzles present dogs with a new challenge. If your dog gets good at one particular puzzle shape, consider swapping it out for a different puzzle type, it will present your dog with a whole new challenge.
Tip: When putting food into these bowls aim to place the food roughly on the outside rim of the bowl.
The last consideration for finding the most suitable slow feeding bowl is size, though the main products we have suggested here will work perfectly well for dog’s of most shapes and sizes, as large as a German shepherd or golden retriever to as small as a beagle or a pug. If you have a very large or small dog or a dog breed with a very short snout you will find specific size recommendations here:
Tip: Did you know that slow feeders can also be used for water! If your dog is scoffing down water too fast, consider using a slow feeder as water bowl also. Just make sure you don’t fill it above the ridges of the inner puzzle.
You’ll find that most of the dog feeders in our list are made from plastic, we firmly believe that this is the best material for slow feeders because it is durable, easy to clean, antibacterial, affordable and comes in the most shapes, sizes, and patterns due to its moldability. All the slow feeders we have recommended are made from non-toxic or BPA free materials, to keep your puppy safe. If you would prefer to look at slow feeders made from other materials, as we know the preferred material for traditional dog bowls is stainless steel and ceramic, we have made some recommendations here:
Top 4 Recommended Products
1. Outward Hound Fun Feeders:
Outward Hound is a well-known brand in the pet industry, and they build beautiful quality products, of which the slow feeder is their most popular. With a sturdy base and strong rubber feet, it sits firmly on the floor with minimal slip. With deep grooves and high sides, we find that the outward hound slow feeders do a great job of reducing the speed your dog consumes food when compared to some of the others. They come in multiple shapes and colors. You may consider getting more than one to provide a different challenge for your pup. The small size holds up to 2 cups of food and the large size up to 4 cups.
Though all the styles they have are effective, our personal favorite is the orange spiral shaped feeder. It forces the food into the center of the bowl and makes the dog think and strategize how to get the food more efficiently.
Tip: With deep channels and intricate patterns, these feeders from outbound are the most challenging and most ideal for fast eaters. They will slow your dog’s food consumption down a lot!
2. IAMUQ Slow Feeders:
The slow feeder range from IAMUQ offers an excellent variety of patterns, shapes, and difficulties. For the most part, these feeders have a capacity just under 4 cups so would be suitable from most small, medium and even large dogs. Please note that the “maze” style feeders from IAMUQ are much smaller than the rest. These are not suitable for most medium to large dog’s but are ideal for smaller dogs.
These bowls are made from heavy gauge, food-safe plastic and are very sturdy.
3. Happy Hunting Bowl:
We particularly like the patterns this slow feeder utilizes. It’s said to be specifically designed to mimic the dogs foraging process in nature. Well, we are not too sure about that, but we did find that with the inconsistency of the inner ridges, it proved to be a real challenge for our dogs without being so much so that they just gave up.
With the base being so much wider than the top of the bowl, this was the least likely to topple over. Though it does have rubber feet, which somewhat do the job, they are tiny, and we would have preferred to see them a little bigger. Overall this is still a fantastic slow feeder and hard to beat for the money.
4. AmazonBasics :
Amazon has made some terrific pet products recently. They are always well built and good quality for the money. This slow feeder with a Tic-Tac-Toe pattern is shallow, with a simple layout making it easy to clean, easy to fill and yet presents a decent challenge for your dog. Be it slightly less of a challenge than some of the deeper and more complex patterns other models have. It is perfect for shorter snouted dogs also like the pug.
Made from food-safe plastic and dishwasher safe, it is no surprise why it has been on the Amazon bestseller list for so long.
Best Slow Feeder For Large Dogs
Is your dog so big you need more like an 8 cup capacity? The standard slow feeder by Outward Hound mentioned earlier, in a large size holds 4 cups of dry food. In our testing this was sufficient for most large dogs but if you need something even bigger we have you covered. We also strongly recommend raised feeders for larger or especially older dogs.
1. OurPets DuraPet:
Though this bowl is less of a challenge than some of the previously recommended products, it will still somewhat slow down food intake, and it has its benefits. It is made in the USA from heavy gauge stainless steel, and it is practically indestructible! We absolutely love the heavy duty rubber base as well, it works great and is durable, even outside on concrete.
Most importantly, a medium size holds 5 cups, and a large holds 8 cups! If that’s still not big enough for your dog, we think you need to start looking at buckets in home depot.
This is the idea bowl for breeds like:
- Great Danes
- Dogue de Bordeaux
- Saint Bernard’s
2. Outward Hound Raised Fun Feeder:
The advantage of a raised feeder is often overlooked. For a large or tall dog, a raised slow feeder puts your dog in a more comfortable position when eating. Their throat is more open allowing for food to enter better. You can try swallowing right now with your chin pushed into your chest, it’s not easy, is it? That’s how some large dogs can feel while eating from the floor.
This raised slow feeder is made with the same hardened and quality plastic as all the outward hound feeders, and its puzzle shape is specifically designed for larger bread dogs so the challenge for them will be spot on.
Best Slow Feeder For Small Or Short Snouted Dogs
Smaller dogs are not as likely to suffer from bloat as larger breed dogs. However, they can still greatly benefit from slowing down its food intake. Breeds like Pug’s and French Bulldogs tend to have problems with gas, a slow feeder is one way you can aid in reducing this.
1. Dogit Go Slow:
It may not look like much, but actually, this little bowl is perfectly designed for small dogs. It offers the right balance of challenge and simplicity, with smooth edges and a deep channel, most small dogs will find this bowl perfect. It is the number one seller for small dog breeds.
It comes in a range of colors (we like the pink one pictured here) but most importantly it comes in a small and extra small perfect for Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Yorkshire Terriers, and any other very small dog breed.
- Small: 7″ across, holds 1 cup of food
- Extra Small: 5.7″ across, holds 1/2 cup of food
2. Outward Hound Fun Feeder Matt:
Though the intended use of this feeder is travel due to it being made form a foldable rubber, we found it to be the very best solution for a small dog and short-snouted dogs in particular. Because of its softer rubber material, shorter nosed dogs can push their whole face into it without causing any discomfort. If you have a Pug, Small or French Bulldog, Pekingese, Lhasa Apso or Shih Tsu, this is the solution for you.
Unlike the other outward hound slow feeders, this one comes with the same pattern no matter the color you choose.
Tip: To increase the challenge you can try placing it in the bottom of a food bowl.
BEST STAINLESS STEEL SLOW FEEDER
When it comes to stainless steel, there is really only one style option, and in our research, we found that of the several currently available the stainless steel slow feeder from OurPets, was leagues better than the rest in every way.
We know many vets recommend people use stainless steel as a food bowl, due to its antibacterial properties, so here is the best of the bunch. However please keep in mind that they don’t tend to slow eating down as much as plastic slow feeders do. So if you have a dog that really hoofs down food, consider the benefit of slowing down eating, may outweigh the slight disadvantage of plastic bowls being less antibacterial.
Just a beautiful, well crafted stainless steel bowl. You can feel the quality in its weight and see it in the design. It is a perfectly casted piece of steel and has a heavy-duty integrated rubber bottom that is the most effective we have come across.
Tip: Make sure you buy the correct size for your pup, as going too big will prove little to no challenge. Sometimes placing a ball on top of the food can increase the challenge a little if needed.
- Small: 3 cups
- Medium: 5 cups
- Large: 8 cups
Best Ceramic Slow Feeder
Unfortunately, there are limited options available for ceramic slow feeders. Though ceramic has its advantages, primarily being heavy (so the bowls don’t tip over), looking classy, in most cases being chemical free and their ability to keep water cooler. We don’t tend to recommend them for slow feeders unless your dog is small and not obsessed with inhaling its food. The reason being is that larger dogs and dog that are too enthusiastic about being fed will sometimes chip their teeth on ceramic or crack the bowl altogether. All that said, here are a couple of fantastic ceramic slow feeder bowl options if you feel they are still suitable for you.
1. Magisso Ceramic Food Bowl:
One of the most beautiful looking dog bowls we have ever laid eyes on, its sleek pastel colors and matte finish make it a real fashion statement. This bowl is also specially developed to keep food and water cooler for longer, convenient if your feeding raw food and despite it being made of ceramic we are pleasantly surprised by how good a job it does in slowing down a dogs food intake.
See the short video below for a full explanation of how its cooling properties work.
2. Petacc Ceramic Slow Feeder
In a ceramic slow feeder, this is as complex a style as you will get. As you can see it does not come with raised edges, so food will likely spill onto the floor, though that’s its intention, if your pup can get them out, it wins. Our dogs didn’t leave a morsel behind, in-fact the floor was left cleaner than they started.
The feeders doggy bone obstructions have a clean, smooth edge coated with a non-toxic glaze and are a little over an inch high, making it the best alternative to the elaborate plastic feeders. It has a beautiful sleek design, that looks good enough to be left permanently in place next to the water bowl.
Slow Feeder & Water Bowl Combo
This is a brand new product on Amazon. We love it because it integrates the best of both worlds, a stainless steel water bowl, and a challenging plastic food dish. Unfortunately, it only comes in one size and is only suitable for smaller breed dogs. However, it is well built, anti-skid and just super convenient. We think it is supposed to be shaped like a squirrel… but it can be hard to make out.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How often should I use the slow feeder?
A: As often as you can, the mental challenge and benefit of slower eating is a great thing, the only time that your dog won’t benefit from being forced to eat slower is if they are unwell.
Q: Are there any disadvantage of using a slow feeder?
A: There are stories of some dogs ingesting plastic after chewing on the feeder, but these cases are very rare. Also, some dogs can chip a tooth on ceramic slow feeders, which is one of the reasons we have not highly recommended them here. Other than that, compared to a traditional food bowl, slow feeders can be a little more challenging to clean.
Q: What is the best way to clean and maintain my slow feeder?
A: Unlike a regular dog bowl, slow feeders have a lot of crevices and gaps that food can get stuck in, so they can require more thorough cleaning. Some are dishwasher safe, however, we recommend using a one part vinegar three parts water solution for best results, your dog’s health and extending the life of the feeder.
Q: Do slow feeders help with weight problems?
A: By slowing down the rate at which the dog can ingest foods, it is shown they will eat less and feel full for longer and over the long term eat less food. Also, the effort required to eat from a slow feeder (be it minimal) could be considered additional exercise.
Q: Do slow feeders help with dog vomiting?
A: Absolutely! It is one of the core benefits of a slow feeding dog bowl. If purchased correctly will slow the food intake down to a point it can no longer inhale the food. It is also recommended that you do not feed your dog immediately after exercise, as this will increase the chances of vomiting.
Q: Why do dogs hoof down food like its the last meal on earth?
A: There is a lot of detailed research into why dogs do this, in summary, it is due to their wild dog heritage. Their ancestors are survival and hunger driven animals. Wild dogs eat quickly because someone else might come and steal it from them and they didn’t know when the next meal is coming.
Q: What types of dogs really NEED a slow feeder bowl?
A: Dogs prone to boating, choking, vomiting, and gastrointestinal discomfort will benefit the most from a slow feeder. These are all severe conditions that owners should seek to inhibit as much as possible.
Q: How do slow feed dog bowls work?
A: They are all created to work slightly differently, but they all use the same principle that if you are restricting the dog’s teeth and tongue direct access to the food they are forced to think and creatively angle their mouth and tongue in a way that will give them access to small piece of food at a time.