- Can A Dog Eat Too Much Dry Food?
- So, What Happens If A Dog Eats Too Much Dry Food?
- Does Dry Food Cause Bloat in Dogs?
- Should Dry Dog Food Be Moistened?
- How Does a Healthy Diet Help My Dog?
- How Do I Help My Dog With Bloat? Preventing GDV
- To Sum It Up
Dogs can definitely eat too much dry food if given the chance.
Dogs will overeat pretty much anything they can get their furry little paws on!
Whether this means wolfing down delicacies they’re not supposed to eat like cat lysine treats or Thin Mints, or filling their tummies with inedible objects such as chalk or LEGO pieces, canines definitely have a tendency to ‘eat first, ask questions later’.
If your dog gorged on dry food excessively, there’s a pretty good chance that it’s going to start feeling pretty icky pretty quickly (more on why this happens in the section below!)
This is because dry dog kibble has a tendency to soak up any liquid– such as water, milk, or miscellaneous stomach fluids- that it comes into contact with.
As the food soaks up this liquid, it expands. Commonly, dry food will enlarge to twice its original size once fully saturated!
What this means is that what was already a sizably large amount of grub just doubled its real estate inside the dog’s belly. You can just imagine how a pooch’s stomach must feel as this happens (Not great!).
Whether your pup got into the bag of dog food or ate from their bowl at incredible speed, dogs that eat too much dry food are at risk for some pretty urgent ailments.
The most common signs your dog has eaten too much dry food are:
- Increased gas
- Generalized stomach issues
Aside from bloating, which I’ll address soon, you can easily overlook the other symptoms of overeating as a virus or infection your dog may have caught. If you suspect your dog is eating too quickly, watch them next time they eat.
Bloating- otherwise known as GDV (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus) in dogs- is the gravest symptom that a dog may experience if it gorges on dry food.
Bloating can be a life-threatening affliction for your dog, so you must take your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect bloat. Now, let’s take a closer look at the causes of bloating and how to prevent the condition!
Dry food does have the ability to cause bloat in your dog, but it’s not as straightforward as simply switching your pup off dry kibble.
For instance, you can’t just give your dog wet food and assume that all bloating problems will go away automatically.
Instead, the underlying reason as to why your dog is getting bloated has to be addressed. More often than not, it’s because they eat too quickly!
So no, dry food does not cause bloat on its own.
Whether your dog gorged on dry food, wet food, a dead squirrel found outside, or any other type of food, they can be at risk of canine bloat. So what is canine bloat, and why is it so dangerous?
Human and dog stomachs aren’t so different. You can think of both of them as balloon-like structures.
Stomachs inflate when they receive food. If your dog eats too much food, its stomach continues gaining volume- even as it damages other parts of its body.
As such, canine bloat or GDV describes the situation where the distended stomach twists inside your dog’s body.
When the twisting occurs, all three of gas, fluid, and food are typically trapped inside. This causes the dog’s stomach to be at risk for significant damage such as tearing.
Aside from tearing, canine bloat can also cause restricted blood flow to your dog’s stomach or surrounding organs. The constricted blood flow occurs because the swollen and twisted stomach puts pressure on surrounding blood vessels and organs.
As you might imagine, GDV is an extremely painful affliction for the poor pup. This is due to the fact that the dog will no longer be able to poop, burp, or pass air under this condition.
Additional horrific consequences of GDV can also include:
- Stomach membrane rupture;
- Loss of blood flow to the heart;
- Reduction in effectiveness of normal breathing functions due to excessive pressure on the diaphragm.
Bloating in canines isn’t a condition that will resolve on its own or respond to home remedies. It will only get worse, causing a dog to go into shock and possibly even die. If you suspect your dog is experiencing bloat, visit a vet immediately.
Aside from a bloated look, you should be able to notice other symptoms associated with bloat. The most visible symptoms include:
- Excessive drooling
- Restlessness or pacing
- Uncharacteristic anxiety
- Swollen stomach or abdomen
- A stomach area that is painful to touch
- Dry heaving
- Rapid panting
- Look of discomfort
- Weakness and lethargy
- Obvious stomach distension
- Elevated or weak pulse
- Faster respiration rate
- Sudden collapse
The causes of canine bloat are a slight mystery. We know that if your dog eats too much or too quickly, their chance of bloat increases, but that’s not the whole story.
Some dog breeds have a higher chance of contracting the affliction. Dog breeds that are much taller than they are wide (otherwise known as being deep-chested) have an increased chance of developing canine bloat. These breeds include Bernese Mountain Dogs, German Shepards, Great Danes, Greyhounds, and more.
Some other risk factors include:
- Being a larger dog
- Using a raised bowl
- Exercising or playing shortly after eating
- Advanced age
- High stress levels and environments
- Spleen has previously been removed
- Eating only one meal a day.
Although dogs with a healthy diet are less likely to develop bloat, giving your pet moistened, dry dog food hasn’t been proven to do anything to prevent the condition.
Many people think that if they give their pet moist food they will digest the food easier, hypothetically resulting in a lesser probability of bloat.
However, that’s not the case. Dogs can develop bloat from any type of food, including canned wet food.
That’s because canine bloat isn’t just about the amount of solid food in your dog’s stomach, but also about the liquids that it drinks and the gas that develops in its stomach during digestion.
Whether or not you feed your dog wet or dry food, gas will develop in their stomach during digestion. So, if your dog gorged on wet food, their chances of developing bloat are in reality the same as if they ate dry food.
A healthy diet will help your dog in various ways, but the most important for a dog that gorges on its food is that it’ll be less hungry when it’s meal time.
In my own experience with my three pups, a dog that gorges on its food is missing something in its diet. A lack of proper nutrition is often the reason why they feel the need to eat their food so fast.
Not only will a healthy diet help alleviate any vitamin or mineral deficiency, but your dog will also have a more well-rounded diet that includes adequate fiber and meat protein.
It especially goes without saying that if your dog is eating the correct amount of fiber, they won’t feel so hungry at mealtime.
So, if you’re in the market for a new type of dog food, you can always ask your vet what they think or analyze the ingredients in your current dog food. If you see a glaring deficiency in the food, don’t hesitate to switch to a brand that caters to that need!
If your dog gorged on dry food, it may be time to look into ways to make them eat slower. In my experience, there are a few different ways to do this, such as using a slow feeder or splitting their meals into smaller portions.
Here’s a brief overview of the possible strategies that you could implement to help prevent bloating in your best friend!
(Side note: I am a member of the Amazon Associates program. From time to time I like to recommend products in my posts that I feel may truly be helpful to readers and their pets. If you do end up buying something by clicking the links on my site, I may receive a tiny amount of commission from the big guys.
And if you do end up buying something- Thank you! I really appreciate your support and I’ll always do my best to put out more quality content for you 🙂 )
Slow feeders are bowls or dishes with grooves. The grooves force the dog to take a much longer time getting each mouthful.
In fact, as I’ve shown in this article, using a slow feeder bowl to hold your dog’s meals can slow its eating speed by up to 500% (*as tested with my own pup Maximus below)!
By taking so much more time, the chances of your dog eating too much too fast are very slim. You can find slow feeders pretty easily on Amazon or at your local pet supply store.
If you want a simple and effective solution, I can highly recommend using the Outward Hound Fun Feeder bowl shown above.
If you don’t want to switch up your dog’s bowl (maybe because it’s got a super ornate, fancy one like this monstrosity), you can still slow down your dog’s eating pace through the use of a Portion Pacer ball or Snuffle Mat.
Alternatively, you can also just scatter its food all over the floor and not even use a bowl at all! This will force your pup to locate and pick up each piece of kibble one by one, significantly increasing the time it takes to eat.
With this method, you should aim to feed your dog the same amount of food as before, but now in smaller portions throughout the day.
Let’s use an example to explain this. Let’s say you were feeding your dog two meals a day, each weighing ten ounces.
So instead of two meals for a total of twenty ounces, you should give your dog five meals. That means each meal would weigh just four ounces.
By giving your dog smaller portions they will be physically unable to gorge on their food, and as a result their chance of bloat reduces significantly!
It’s important to make your dog feel safe while eating so that it doesn’t feel stressed out. Here are a few different things you can do:
- If you own more than one dog, give them each ample space to enjoy their food without having to constantly look over their shoulders. This may mean feeding them in different rooms, or even at different times!
Remember, dogs are competitive and territorial especially when it comes to food, so take the tension out of mealtimes as much as possible.
- Teach the kids that dogs need to be afforded their alone time when eating, and refrain from carrying out any loud, frightening activities near the pooch while it is eating.
- Swap out the metal food bowl with a ceramic one to minimize sharp ‘clinking’ sounds
If your dog only ever eats dry food, do an experiment and switch it on to wet food for the next couple of weeks. Wet food will usually encourage the dog to slow down and chew more.
If you choose to stay with dry food no matter what, look into changing to larger kibbles or kibbles with holes in the middle. The latter are designed to get stuck on a canine’s teeth, essentially forcing them to chew rather than gulp.
Whether you decide to go with wet or dry food, make sure that there is only ever a single layer of food in your dog’s bowl. Doing this will make it harder for your pup to swallow a whole mouthful all at once.
It’s extremely important that your best friend gets enough daily exercise, since it’s an absolutely instrumental aspect of maintaining optimal health and wellbeing.
A dog that is fit and at an ideal weight for their breed will be able to keep many adverse health conditions- including bloat- at bay.
Though not a particularly common route taken, there is a minimally-invasive procedure called prophylactic gastropexy which can essentially remove the risk of stomach bloat in breeds that are prone to the affliction.
The maneuver involves taking the canine’s stomach in a fixed state, and is effective in preventing GDV from taking place. If you would like to know more about this option for your pup, definitely consult with your vet about this surgical option.
Canine stomachs are pretty stretchy and flexible.
In the majority of cases where a dog gorged on dry food, it will walk away from the incident no worse for wear!
However, it is possible for the ravenous pup to experience not-so-pleasant aftereffects as well. These can typically include diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy (food coma, anyone?), and increased gas output.
The most dire consequence that can result from a dog overeating dry foods is GDV or canine bloat. This is where the stomach becomes twisted inside the body, resulting in blood circulation being cut off and significant trauma.
GDV will be accompanied by a few different telltale signs, such as a swollen and sore abdomen, unusual anxiety, frantic behavior, dry heaving, changes in heart and respiration rate, and sudden collapse.
Bloating is an extremely serious condition in dogs and can be quickly fatal. Therefore, if you do notice any of the above symptoms, the best thing to do would be to take your pup to the vet immediately for an urgent examination.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.