Dogs are passionate about food and that’s reflected in how dogs eat and how they drink. In fact, many dogs will eat anything that doesn’t move faster than they do, and it’s up to owners to ensure the canine diet is appropriate.
How Dogs Eat
The canine style of eating is rooted in evolution. Dog ancestors hunted in packs and required large animal prey to sustain the group. The mouse or rabbit an individual might catch was eaten outright, but larger animals posed a problem. What wasn’t eaten immediately drew scavengers ready and willing to steal leftovers out of canine mouths. That’s one reason many dogs gobble their food.
That’s why most modern dogs are gorgers. Like their ancestors, dogs can eat huge quantities of food at one time. Such a meal would last wild canines several days, which meant they didn’t need to hunt or eat as often. Modern hunting breeds — Labrador Retrievers and Beagles are notorious — tend to be gorgers that gulp mouthfuls of food without chewing until they reach the bottom of the bowl.
Dogs Love Veggies!
Dog ancestors also developed the ability to benefit from vegetables, which is why modern canines share the human enthusiasm for sweet foods. Sweetness is the signal that a plant has reached ultimate ripeness and highest nutrient value. This diet flexibility gave dogs an edge in survival by allowing them to eat whatever was at hand.
A dog’s teeth are designed for an omnivorous diet, that is, one composed of both animals and vegetables. Dagger-shaped canine teeth hold and slash prey, while the small incisors across the front of the jaw gnaw flesh from bone. Molars crush bone, shear meat, and grind vegetable matter. Drinking is accomplished by curling the tongue into a backward spoon to suction up liquid. In this way your dog throws water up into his mouth, and swallows every two to three laps.
Feeding Dogs On Schedule
Dogs are happy to eat anytime — or, all the time — but it’s healthier and easier for you to manage feeding on a routine basis. Feed your dog in the same place and at the same time every day. Most dogs consider eating a social event, and enjoy company while dining.
However, if you have more than one pet, competition may be a problem. Dogs tend to eat more when another pet is present because of their gorger mentality; if I don’t eat it, he will. Make sure each pet has his own bowl, and feed them at separate ends of the kitchen, or even in separate rooms, if necessary. Plenty of clean water should be available at all times.
Are your dogs picky eaters? Do they come and go from the food bowl, or gulp mouthfuls at a time? Magic used to get sick and URPS yellow bile if he waits too long to eat. And Bravo would eat everything, then get excited and lose his lunch. Shadow-Pup appears to be a picky eater, and refuses to munch until he’s sure we’ve finished our human meal and there’s nothing for him.
What are your dogs’ eating habits? Do they eat dirt or other weird things? Do tell!
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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!