Do Dogs Chew Their Food?
[All you need to know]

Aaron Rice Expert Dog Trainer
Written: January 17, 2022

Many owners have been concerned when they see their canine friends gulping down their food as they eat. From the perspective of human eating habits, this is a concerning behavior that seems like it would lead to choking and other kinds of health issues.

Thankfully for worried owners, dogs are not actually designed to chew their food carefully. This is due to evolution and pack behavior which drives dogs to eat their food quickly so that other animals and other dogs do not steal it from them. Wild dogs have to eat quickly to prevent their food from being taken away by littermates, as well as pack mates and scavengers are a daily reality in the wild.

Dog Teeth Are Not Designed for Chewing

The design of a dog’s teeth is not actually made for chewing. They do not have any flat molar surfaces which allow for chewing and instead have a mouth full of pointy teeth which are used to catching food, tearing it up, and swallowing it whole.

This is why dog owners should not be scared when their pet is gulping down their food whole. This is not abnormal behavior, and it can be beneficial for their digestion to eat things in this manner. 

Part of the reason that it seems like dogs do not chew their food at all, is because we feed them modified food sources, not raw meat. They were not made to eat these kinds of foods, but no one wants to have to keep raw meat around to feed to their dog every day!

What Kind of Dog Food Can Dogs Chew the Best?

Most people feed their dog kibble of some kind or another. These kibble diets are carefully balanced for the right nutrition, and kibble is a very healthy way of feeding your dog.

Kibble only causes a problem if your dog eats so fast that it makes itself sick, or sometimes it can be an issue for an older dog with bad teeth. Dog kibble comes in many sizes and textures, and there are other kinds of food that you can buy as well.

If your dog is having trouble eating dry kibble, you can try making it wet and soft before you feed it to your pet. You can also buy cans of wet dog food which are made for puppies or older dogs to eat when they have trouble with kibble.

Some companies also make raw foods that you can buy which have to be refrigerated. This food contains ground-up animal parts and can be quite palatable to dogs who do not like to eat kibble. Some breeds, such as German Shepherds, far better on these kinds of diets in some cases.

How to Know When Your Dog is Having Trouble Eating Kibble

There are some key signs that indicate that it is time to change your dog’s diet.

  • Dropping food

  • Coughing or choking

  • Vomiting

  • Lack of appetite

  • Struggling to get food in the mouth

  • Excessive licking and chewing after eating

  • Losing weight

  • Burping or groaning

You should always consider taking your dog to the vet if they are showing signs of having trouble eating. There might be other health conditions that are causing this behavior rather than a distaste for kibble food.

Some health conditions that can lead to issues with eating food are:

  • Loose or broken teeth
  • Tartar build-up on the teeth
  • Stomach tumors or other internal growths
  • Thyroid issues
  • Nervous behaviors
  • Food allergies
  • Kidney or liver disease

Your veterinarian will be able to rule out health problems as well as recommend a new kind of diet to help your dog to eat if they are having trouble chewing. You want to make sure that your vet has the chance to verify that your dog does not have a serious health condition that is causing their weight loss.

Even if your vet determines that your dog’s eating problems are related to being nervous or other issues in their mealtime arrangements, they can usually help you to figure out how to solve these problems.

How to Get a Dog to Eat Slowly

Some dogs will eat so fast at every meal that they make themselves vomit. This can be behavior that is related to competition with other dogs or worry over the food being taken away. There are some easy ways to make sure that your dog does not bolt its food.

  • Feed Them Away From Other Pets

If other pets are causing your dog to worry about its food being stolen, you can solve this issue in many cases by feeding them in another location. You can feed your pet in the bathroom with the door shut or just feed them at a distance from the other pets. This will make them feel safe and eliminate the feeling of competition for food that can lead to eating too fast.

  • Switch to Wet Food

Switching to wet food can make a big difference for dogs who eat too fast. Wet food will not form a ball in their throat when it is swallowed too quickly, and it is also more challenging for them to pick up, which can make it tough for them to bolt it down as fast.

  • Wet The Kibble

If you don’t want to deal with canned food, you can always just get your dog’s kibble wet each time that you feed them. Make the kibbles just moist enough that they are soft, but don’t make them soupy. Dogs usually will not eat food with standing water in it.


  • Buy a Slow Feeding Bowl

These handy food bowl styles are made to separate your dog’s kibble into unique compartments so that they can only eat a few kibbles at one time. This will help them with their bolting behavior, and it will also make sure that they eat more slowly so that they do not choke on their food or make a lump of kibble in their throat.

  • Feed Smaller Meals

Sometimes the key to handling a dog that eats too fast is to feed many small meals throughout the day. This will make sure that your dog is not feeling hungry and worried over food, and the reduced volume of food in their food bowl can help them with the risk of choking or vomiting related to eating too much too fast.

Dogs Are Not Designed to Chew Their Food

Always remember not to be worried if your dog is swallowing its food whole. They are made to swallow all of their food in this way, and they will not be harmed by eating like this. It is very rare that a dog will chew up its food, so you should not consider your dog’s eating behavior strange or problematic if they are not chewing.

The only time that swallowing food whole is an issue is if your dog is choking, vomiting, or refusing to eat their food. Use these simple tips and tricks to handle food bolting issues, and your dog will be happy and healthy for years to come!