What is the point of a slow feeder? Are slow feeders good for mental stimulation?

What is the point of a slow feeder? Are slow feeders good for mental stimulation?

In our fast-paced world, it's easy to overlook the benefits of taking things slow, especially for our pets. Slow feeders are designed to do just that—slow down your pet's eating pace to prevent health issues like bloat, aid in weight management, and offer mental stimulation. This post will explore how slow feeders work, their benefits for both dogs and cats, and tips on choosing the right one for your furry friend. Join us as we dive into why a slow feeder might just be the key to a healthier, happier pet.

What is the point of a slow feeder?

Slow feeders are designed deliberately to make animals consume their food slower than they would using a traditional pet bowl. This has a few benefits that shouldn’t be underestimated! Some of the benefits of slow feeders include preventing bloat (also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus) and indigestion, managing weight, and providing mental enrichment.


Fast eating can lead to bloating, discomfort, and indigestion in dogs. Bloating can be particularly serious, potentially leading to life-threatening conditions like gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) in susceptible breeds. Slow feeders make dogs eat at a more gradual pace, reducing the risk of these issues.

Weight Management

By slowing down the eating process, pets may feel fuller sooner and thus eat less, which can be beneficial for weight management or weight loss efforts.

Are slow feeders good for mental stimulation?

slow feeder showing why they are better

Using a slow feeder is something called contrafreeloading. "Contrafreeloading is the behaviour seen in most animals that when an animal is offered a choice between free food or identical food that requires effort, the animal prefers the food that requires effort" (Glen Jensen, 1963). Dogs naturally like to be challenged to get their food. The anticipation generated from working for food gives a hit of dopamine that stimulates the pleasure centre of a dog’s brain.

Are slow feeders better for dogs?

*photo produced by @kitwithfood

In short, yes. For the most part, using a slow feeder is mostly better for your dog. Eating slower helps with digestion and nutrient absorption and most dogs prefer to eat their food this way. However, if a slow feeder seems to discourage your dog or cat from eating at all, we would recommend going back to a traditional dog bowl.

Do dogs get frustrated with slow feeders?

dog sniffing slow feeder and not frustrated

*photo produced by @eltonthevizla_

Though relatively uncommon, some dogs can get frustrated with slow feeders. If your dog has been exposed to other puzzle toys in the past, this shouldn’t be an issue, but if this is your dog’s first time eating their food this way, it may take a little getting used to. Monitor your dog’s body language to ensure they look happy and relaxed while eating. You can even offer them a few words of encouragement or praise for using their slow feeder, especially if it’s their first time.

What does a slow feeder do for cats?

Many cats are what they call, “scarfer and barfers.” The concept is that some cats eat so quickly that they immediately vomit after consuming their food. Slow feeders can also help with this.

Which slow feeder is best for dogs?

Better slow feeder with paws
*photo produced by @gunner.shiba

The slow feeder that is the best is the one that your dog enjoys eating from! So, knowing your dog is the key to finding the best slow feeder for them. Consider the level of appropriate challenge for your pet as well as the size of the feeder relative to them (eg. smaller feeders better suit smaller dogs!).

Here are a few questions I would ask myself before buying a new slow feeder:

  • Does my dog like working for her food and is she intent on getting any food that spills out of her bowl? If the answer is yes then consider a bowl that has small openings and higher walls, as this bowl will be more challenging for her!
  • Does my dog often leave some of his food in his bowl after finishing his meal? If the answer is yes, then opt for a slow feeder with wider openings and a lower profile, making it easier for your dog to access his good.
  • Is my dog hard on toys, a big time chewer or an accidental finger-nibbler when taking treats? If the answer is yes, choose a ceramic or a hard plastic slow feeder which will be more resistant to dog destruction. If the answer is no, then a silicone slow feeder is often best.

Can pugs use slow feeder bowls? Are slow feeder bowls good for French bulldogs? We want to know for the flat faced dogs!

Yes, pugs and French bulldogs can use slow feeder bowls, and they are especially beneficial for them. Flat-faced dogs, also known as brachycephalic breeds, tend to eat quickly, which can lead to digestion issues, choking, and obesity. Slow feeder bowls are designed with ridges or obstacles that make dogs eat more slowly, promoting better chewing and reducing the risk of these problems. However, it's important to choose a slow feeder bowl suitable for flat-faced dogs, ensuring it is shallow enough for them to reach the food without strain. These bowls not only enhance feeding times by turning them into a stimulating activity but also contribute to the overall health and well-being of pugs, French bulldogs and other similar breeds.

These are just a few questions to ask yourself before finding the right slow feeder for you and your pup. Still unsure? Shoot us an email! We would love to chat.

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