Dog slow feeders have helped me slow my pup Wally’s eating down.
Over the years, I’ve tried a few different ones, and in today’s blog post, I’ll share my seven favorites!
In case you’re new to the blog, Wally’s raw-fed and eats about 70% homemade raw dog food and 30% pre-made raw meals.
Now here’s the thing – Wally takes his time whenever he’s eating my own meals because they feature larger cuts of meat as well as raw meaty bones.
But his eating speed increases drastically when his bowl features ground cuts of meat.
Whenever that’s the case, he inhales his food like he hasn’t eaten in days!
How To Make Your Raw-Fed Dog Eat Slower: Dog Slow Feeders
Disclaimer: This blog post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated in 2023. It contains affiliate links I may earn compensation through at no additional cost to you.
What Happens If A Dog Eats Too Fast? Bloat Explained
Before I go into detail about the slow feeders, I want to talk about why it can be problematic when dogs eat too fast.
First of all, they can throw up their food.
While that’s mostly gross, it can also cause bloat.
Bloat is a serious condition where the stomach fills with gas.
Unfortunately, it’s usually fatal if the dog’s stomach ends up twisting on itself and doesn’t get treated by a vet right away.
According to integrative veterinarian Dr. Becker, bloat has a 30% mortality rate.
So when you notice any of the symptoms listed below in your pooch, it’s better to be safe than sorry and head to your vet or closest emergency vet.
Signs of Bloat
- Bloated belly
- Abdominal pain
- Unproductive retching
- Pale gums
- State of shock
- Shallow rapid breathing
Keeping that in mind, the following breeds are particularly prone to bloat:
- Great Danes
- Saint Bernards
- Irish Setters
- Gordon Setters
- Standard Poodles
- Basset Hounds
- Old English Sheephounds
- German Shorthaired Pointers
- German Shepherds
But any dog regardless of their breed can get bloat.
Did you know? Most kibble can contribute to bloat!
That’s because it’s high in carbs which are fermentable and cause gas.
If the gas gets trapped within the body, the risk of bloat occurs.
How Do Dog Slow Feeders Work at Slowing Down a Dog’s Eating?
Dog food puzzles are designed specifically to slow down a dog’s eating pace by engaging a dog’s natural foraging instincts.
Well, the dog has to figure out how to maneuver their snout and tongue around obstacles to access their food.
These obstacles can be ridges, circles and bumps that are built into the slow feeder.
They make it more challenging for them to access their food by:
- Spacing it out
- Making access to it trickier
My Favorite 7 Dog Slow Feeders
Ok, now on to the fun part!
I’m happy to report that I’ve managed to find 7 slow feeders for dogs that make Wally eat his raw dog food -well, more slowly!
- First, a simple ice cube tray.
- Next, a stuffable KONG toy.
- Followed by 4 slow feeder bowls.
- Also, LickiMats!
Tip: They also work for kibble and wet dog food, but I obviously only use them for raw dog food.
Check out my dog slow feeder playlist on YouTube to see them in action!
Dog Slow Feeder #1: Ice Cube Trays
I found these particular ice cube trays on Amazon, priced at around $10.00 for a set of two.
Features of the ice cube trays:
- Made of food-grade silicone
- They come with lids
Tip: They also work great to store ground secreting organs in the freezer.
Secreting organs are an essential part of raw dog food, but some dogs are super picky and won’t eat them whole.
So what you can do is simply pop one or two out come feeding time and add them to your dog’s raw meal.
Dog Slow Feeder #2: KONG Toys
These are the slow feeders I’ve been familiar with the longest!
I got them for my pups Missy and Buzz mostly for entertainment purposes during the hot summer months back in 2012.
They’re thick rubber dog toys that can be filled with food, and Missy and Buzz loved going to town on them.
Especially when I popped them into the freezer overnight. That makes them last extra long .
Of course I also bought Wally a few Kongs.
A set of large KONG toys retails on Amazon for around $25.00, but any good pet retail store carries them.
Features of the KONGs:
- Made of natural, non-toxic rubber
- Also work as bouncy fetch toys!
Dog Slow Feeder #3: Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo Bowl
I can also fill a regular raw dog food meal into slow feeder dog bowls.
For example, the Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo Bowl.
The bowl itself is large enough for me to put some smaller raw meaty bones and whole fish in there.
For example, duck wings or feet, thread herring, as well as smaller cuts of raw meat and/or puréed veggies.
The Fun Feeder is available on Amazon and retails for $14.99. That’s for the medium size. It’s also available in small and large.
Features of the Fun Feeder:
- Non-slip base
- Food-safe materials
Dog Slow Feeder #4: Allygoods Silicone Slow Feeder
I found the Allygoods slow feeder when I was browsing Amazon for more slow feeders. It comes in small ($22) and large ($39).
Features of the Slow Feeder:
- Lead- and phthalte-free
- Suction cup non-slip base
- Food-safe materials
Dog Slow Feeder #5: Mighty Paw Slow Feeder Dog Bowl
The Mighty Paw Slow feeder bowl is made of silicone and can either be inserted into an existing dog bowl or used on its own.
I was introduced to it back when I worked for the brand.
Since it fits perfectly into my medium size Yeti’s Boomer 4 dog bowl (I have the Nordic Blue), I like combining them!
It’s available on Amazon for around $12, features 6 silicone waves and comes in one size.
Features of the Slow Feeder Dog Bowl:
- BPA-free silicone
- Quick pull paw tab
- Food-safe materials
- Enough space for RMBs like ribs, wings, feet and necks
Dog Slow Feeder #6: AIPERRO Stainless Steel Slow Feeder Dog Bowl
The AIPERRO slow feeder dog bowl is made of stainless steel and has 4 raised bumps to slow dogs down when they’re eating.
I found it while browsing Amazon for dog slow feeders, and really liked the simple look!
That said, it’s available in two different sizes and retails for around $25.
Features of the AIPERRO slow feeder:
- Made of food-grade stainless steel
- 4 raised bumps
- Non-slip base
- Dishwasher safe
Dog Slow Feeder #7: LickiMat Buddy & LickiMat Slomo
The LickiMats are my most recent find and retail for around $17.00 each.
They work great for Wally’s ground raw meals, and the two I have are the:
Obviously, this only works for ground meats including ground bone and not really larger cuts of meat.
But it does work for whole pieces of fish since fish is so mushy.
Tip: I use a fork for the fish and a spoon for the ground meat.
Features of the LickiMat Buddy Tuff:
- BPA-and silicone free, food-grade rubber
- Non-slip rubber feet
Features of the LickiMat Slomo:
- BPA-and silicone free, food-grade rubber
- Pocket AND bump sections
- Non-slip rubber feet
I think that the pockets were originally intended for kibble, but they actually work nicely for smaller chunks of meat as well (think 1/2 chicken heart size).
What Can I Put In A Licki Mat?
As far as what to put on a LickiMat, the sky is the limit!
You can put anything on there your pup likes and usually eats.
If you’re not quite ready to feed raw dog food, here are some ideas of what you can put on a Licki Mat:
- Plain yogurt
- Peanut butter
- Pumpkin purée
- Sweet potato
- Baby food
- Puréed veggies
- Canned sardines
- Mashed banana or strawberry
The picture below features plain goat yogurt sprinkled with kelp, and this particular LickiMat went into the freezer for a refreshing doggie summer snack!
Raw feeders like myself can put any of the following on the LickiMat:
- Premade raw dog food
- Ground muscle meat
- Ground raw meaty bone
- Ground secreting organs
- Puréed plant matter
- Mashed raw fish
The picture above features:
How to Use Dog Slow Feeders
All I have to do is scoop Wally’s raw dog food into the ice cube trays, KONGs, slow feeder bowls or LickiMats and serve!
I can freeze the trays, KONGs and the LickiMats overnight or at least for a few hours. That way, they’ll last even longer.
That said, the frozen KONGs last Wally about 10-15 minutes.
He empties the frozen ice cube trays in about 2-3 minutes and needs about 1.5 minutes if they didn’t go into the freezer.
That’s the same amount of time he needs to empty the Slo Feeder.
For the LickiMats, it takes him about 3-5 minutes.
UNLESS I freeze the LickiMats – at that point, he stays busy for about 15-20 minutes.
Overall a drastic difference in time needed to finish his raw dog food compared to when it’s simply served in a bowl!
How To Clean A KONG Dog Toy & Other Slow Feeders
Here’s another awesome fact about KONGs and the other slow feeders I mentioned – they’re all dishwasher-safe!
So once your pup’s done eating, you can just pop them into the dishwasher.
Do Dog Slow Feeders Also Provide Mental Stimulation?
When dogs navigate the “obstacles”, they turn their problem-solving skills on and improve their focus and concentration.
That’s particularly beneficial for dogs that are prone to boredom related behavior like destructive chewing.
Obviously, the level of mental stimulation provided by a slow feeder varies depending on the design and complexity of the specific feeder.
But either way, they all help alleviate boredom and provide a form of enrichment.
In a nutshell, dogs who have to figure out how to get to their food are challenged on a cognitive level which entertains them.
I love offering them as a distraction during thunderstorms, fireworks and when I need quiet time in my home office.
So yes, dog food puzzles like slow feeders provide mental stimulation!
Why My Dog Eats His Ground Raw Dog Food So Fast
I can only speculate as to why Wally inhales his ground raw dog food.
My guess is that it has to do with his opportunistic doggie nature.
Wild dogs and wolves have to hunt for their own meals and don’t necessarily get lucky every single day.
So when they manage to capture their prey, they dig in since they can’t be sure when the next meal will come their way.
Another reason that seems plausible to me is that the ground food simply enables fast eating.
I mean, it doesn’t require him to chew, which he has to do when I put my own meals together.
That’s particularly true for raw meaty bones.
Wally Takes His Time Eating Raw Meaty Bones As Part Of His Raw Dog Food
Wally is really good about eating his raw meaty bones (RMBs) slowly.
If you’re new to the concept of raw dog food and raw meaty bones, I suggest you hold one end of the RMB and let your dog start crunching on the other end.
That way, you ensure that your dog doesn’t swallow the bone whole without having crunched down on it a few times.
It also teaches your dog polite manners around food items he considers to be of high value.
I assure you RMBs fall into that category!
It also teaches him that it’s perfectly acceptable and normal that a human touches his food.
Dog Slow Feeders: Bottom Line
Dog slow feeders work well to slow Wally down when he’s eating his raw dog food.
The ice cube trays, KONGs, Slow Feeders and the LickiMats work wonders for this purpose, and clean up is a breeze since all are dishwasher safe.
Fun Fact: When I surveyed my K9s fans in an Instagram story, they told me that 44% use dog slow feeders to slow down their dog’s eating.
What about you? Do you use a slow feeder for you pup(s)?
Leave your comments or questions in the comment section below!
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