How do dogs eat?

April 13, 2012

Gosh! Why is this dog eating so fast? The dog is so greedy. It’s as if it would be its last meal. First time dog owners would probably marvel at the way their pet eats. Dogs really do eat very fast! Dogs gobble up the food. Moreover you would be amazed at the amount of food a dog can put away.

Dog owners need not be concerned with this eating behavior of their pets. We humans eat slowly; chew the food thoroughly to savor its taste. The digestion process in humans starts in the mouth. The saliva that mixes with the food when it is chewed prepares the food to be digested when it reached the stomach. Dog’s digestion does not commence until the food reached the stomach hence dogs don’t have to chew their food. Moreover, a dog’s teeth are not really designed for chewing. Unlike human teeth that are flat to facilitate chewing, canine teeth are pointed and actually designed to grab the food or tear the meat to be swallowed whole. In the Voyage of the Fox it was written that a pack of Eskimo dogs have gobbled up 65 pounds of chopped seal meat in 42 seconds. Did you know that incisors of Eskimo dogs are removed to prevent the dogs from chewing the leash made of seal hide? Because of this the dogs would swallow the food (meat) whole.

A dog, no matter how well fed and good natured will growl if you attempt to take away some of the food it is eating. Domesticated dogs have evolved from wolves. In times gone by, wolves need to scavenge to survive in the wild. Dogs nowadays don’t have to worry where their next meal would come from as every meal time the doggie bowl will be filled by their loving masters. Dogs these days can dawdle and eat their food slowly. Their ancestors don’t have this luxury. To survive, dogs in the wild have to eat fast and stuff themselves full as they would not know when the next meal would be. If food is scarce these dogs would go for days without eating. There is so much competition among animals to survive. A dog’s prey can be snatched by a bigger and more dominant animal. Dogs have to eat fast before other animals can scent and get wind of the available food. Wolves hunt in packs, but food is not divided equally. The pack hierarchy dictates that the alpha dog will have a first go on the prey and to have the best part. Other dogs cannot eat until the leader of the pack have had its fill. When it is their time to eat, dogs of lower ranks have to eat fast. They gobble up the food or else they would not get their fill. Thousands of years of domestication has not “cured” the dog from this kind of eating behavior. The competition for food has been eliminated, dogs need not hunt and scavenge for food, as food is provided regularly. However the dog still have the urge to eat fast and to swallow the food whole.

These voracious eaters can be off food once in a while. A pet that is not eating is one of the most common problems of dog owners nowadays. Unless the dog is ill, losing weight or lethargic non-eating is not a concern. Just make sure that water is always available. After a day or two the dog will normally be its usual self… eat very fast and gobble the food as if another animal is tying to take its food away.

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