- Outward Hound
- The Outward Hound Fun Feeder Dog Bowl slows down dogs that eat too fast, decreasing the likelihood of choking, vomiting, and bloat.
- It’s a simple but effective dog bowl that compartmentalizes food with sturdy BPA-free plastic ridges to prevent a dog from scarfing it down too quickly.
- It comes in five different patterns and colors and stays looking new for years.
The first time I was over at Buster’s dinnertime, I watched wide-eyed and horrified as my boyfriend’s dog scarfed down a bowl of kibble in 10 seconds flat. There were no other dogs around, and we humans were a good 20 feet away from his meal. “He’s always eaten like this,” my boyfriend shrugged.
A couple days later I showed up with a solution, an Outward Hound Fun Feeder Dog Bowl. In my day job as a certified professional dog trainer, one of my most universal recommendations is to feed dogs out of mentally stimulating puzzle toys, but Buster already got a couple of those a day filled with tasty snacks. I knew my boyfriend preferred to keep mealtimes simple.
When dinner rolled around, we poured Buster’s dinner into the labyrinth of ridges contained within the teal dog dish. When it was time, Buster descended on his meal, ready to hoover it up the way he had done for years. All those ridges, though, prevented the big Great Dane-pit mix from accessing more than a couple of pieces at once. The meal was a two-minute-long success.
How the Outward Hound Fun Feeder Dog Bowl works
The bowl is simple but effective. Made of heavy BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free plastic, the flat dish comes in either a spiral or criss-cross pattern of high ridges. There are several designs to choose from – Buster’s teal bowl was a spiral design – but in each case, those ridges are close enough together that the dog can’t get their snout all the way to the bowl’s basin. Compartmentalizing the meal forces the dog to slow down as they eat.
The Fun Feeder Bowl comes in a “mini” size that holds 2 cups of food and a “regular” size that holds 4 cups. Easy to clean and dishwasher-safe, the nonslip bowl works like a charm for any kind of diet, from store-bought kibble to homemade.
While I have only tried the teal, purple, and orange versions of Outward Hound‘s five different Fun Feeder designs, some are better than others. The unbroken spiral in the orange bowl, for example, is so narrow in places that it’s nearly impossible for a dog to get enough traction to pick up their food.
When I gave Ripley, a long-legged Chihuahua mix, the chance to test it out, I noticed she had to push some of the pieces of food all the way around the spiral before she could get it in her mouth. For some dogs that might be good additional mental gymnastics, but for others, it is likely to cause frustration and discontent.
The potential benefits of an Outward Hound Fun Feeder
- Shoshi Parks
There are some cognitive benefits to slowing a dog down at mealtime. While the Fun Feeder may not be as effective at providing mental stimulation as puzzle toys, these bowls help to tap into a dog’s scavenging instincts. By working for their food, a dog gets more out of the meal than nutrition alone.
Equally as important are the potential health benefits a Fun Feeder bowl can provide. The faster a dog eats, the more thoughtless the activity becomes, making it easier for them to choke, vomit, or experience gastrointestinal distress.
And then there’s bloat. When a dog eats too fast, they swallow air along with their food, a potentially deadly condition called aerophagia. As the stomach fills with air, its blood vessels compress, leading to hypovolemic shock or even twisting of the stomach. By slowing down a dog’s consumption, these bowls can decrease the likelihood of bloat.
What this dog bowl can’t do
What the bowl doesn’t tell you is why your dog is eating is so fast. While hunger could be what’s driving some dogs to hoover their meals, Dr. Carlo Siracusa, DVM, associate professor of clinical animal behavior and welfare at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, says that it’s important to look at the whole picture.
“There might be many reasons. One might be that you have more dogs in the house and they are not fed separately, and even if they are, there’s not a physical barrier and they are afraid the other dog might come,” Dr. Siracusa says. If you do select a slow feeder like the Outward Hound, he recommends watching your dog’s body language to be sure they are enjoying the challenge the bowl presents.
The bottom line
For Buster, the teal Outward Hound Fun Feeder was a hit. The dish held every meal he ate for the next two years, and when he passed away unexpectedly at the age of 10, it still looked brand new – not one chip or ding or stain. If you’ve ruled out other possible behavioral triggers, these bowls are a great way to slow down a dog who eats too quickly.
Pros: Slows down a dog that eats too fast, decreases likelihood of bloat, choking and GI distress, free of BPA and other chemicals, sturdy and well-made, comes in five designs and colors
Cons: May be too frustrating for some dogs, won’t solve behavioral problems associated with eating too fast, the ridges on the orange bowl are very narrow