If your dog gets excited at the sight of their food and gobbles it down too quickly, it can be hazardous to their health. Slow feeders for dogs help extend the duration of mealtime by temporarily limiting their access to their food.
“Dogs who eat too quickly tend to swallow air, which can increase the risk of bloat in some large dogs,” says Denise Lott, veterinarian assistant at Hello Ralphie, a pet telehealth company. “Eating too quickly can also carry the risk of choking on food.”
Slow feeder bowls make use of divots, walls, and grooves to temporarily obstruct your dog from their food. Most are compatible with kibble and wet food, and they can also help with portion control. Our favorite is the Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo Bowl in the turquoise drop shape. It has deep, challenging grooves along with a non-skid base, and is available in two sizes.
Outward Hound Turquoise Drop Fun Feeder Slo Bowl
Deep, challenging grooves
Top-rack dishwasher safe
Two sizes, holds up to four cups
Grooves can be too big for some small dogs
Outward Hound makes a large array of slow feeder bowls in different designs, sizes, and colors. This simple one with deep circular swirls is a favorite. A pup has to take time to pick up kibble in all the grooves and crannies in the maze-like bowl.
The trenches are deep, which makes this even more challenging for dogs that have mastered puzzle bowls. It can be frustrating for pups new to the slow-feeder challenge, but most figure it out fairly quickly.
This pattern comes in two sizes. The mini/medium holds two cups and the regular/large holds four. One of our test dogs eats 1/2 cup per meal and uses the regular/large size. That means all pieces fall in the grooves and it takes some time to eat them. The bowl is made from plastic that is BPA, PVC, and phthalate free. It has a non-skid base and can be cleaned on the top shelf of the dishwasher.
Price at time of publish: $9 (medium)
Dimensions: 9.5 x 8 x 2.65 inches (medium/mini); 12.75 x 11 x 2.88 inches (regular/large) | Volume: 2 cups; 4 cups | Material: Plastic
Best Stainless Steel
Neater Pets Stainless Steel Slow Feeder Bowl
Easy to clean
Non-slip silicone ring on bottom
Might be too easy for some pups
Stainless steel bowls are durable and easy to keep clean. This particular bowl has a big raised bump in the middle to slow down feeding just a little. It appears to be easier for dogs than dishes with more intricate obstacles. It’s safe to clean in the top rack of the dishwasher and because there aren’t so many little crannies, it cleans more easily than some others.
The bowl comes in four sizes with the largest holding up to five cups of food and the smallest holding three-fourths of a cup. There’s a non-slip silicone ring around the base to help keep the bowl from skidding when eager pups eat.
Price at time of publish: $15 (1.5 cups)
Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.4 inches; 10 x 2 inches; 11.25 x 2 inches; 12.6 x 2.5 inches | Volume: 0.75 cup; 1.5 cups; 3 cups; 5 cups | Material: Stainless steel
BanditBowl The Original Ceramic Slow Feeder Pet Bowl
Beautiful and handmade
Six size options and six colors
Safe for dishwasher, microwave, and oven
Ceramic bowls are heavy to move around
These handmade ceramic bowls are both beautiful and useful. They’re crafted of non-toxic clay and finished to order with lead-free glazes. They’re available in four diameters and have an extra-deep and an extra-shallow version. They come in six colors ranging from speckled white or mottled teal green to a rich, shiny black.
The artist has very detailed and helpful instructions on how to choose the right size for your pup. Part of the process is determining how fast your dog inhales their food or where they rate on the “Hoover scale.” Although the bowls are safe to use in the dishwasher, microwave, or oven, handwashing is recommended.
Price at time of publish: $90 (large)
Dimensions: 5 x 2 inches; 6 x 2 inches; 8 x 2 inches; 9.5 x 2 inches | Volume: 0.3 cup; 0.75 cup; 2 cups; 3 cups; 4 cups | Material: Ceramic
Best for Beginners
Outward Hound Purple Flower Fun Feeder Slo Bowl
Easy to use for dogs of many sizes
Comes in two sizes
Top-rack dishwasher safe
Can be hard to clean completely
Another bowl from Outward Hound, this slow feeder is easier for dogs to retrieve food from than our top pick, which makes it a good choice for dogs who aren’t yet used to eating from a slow feeder. The swirly, flower-shaped design offers more surfaces for food to be pushed against. That can make it less frustrating for dogs who have trouble with less intricate designs. However, if your dog easily masters these puzzles, this one might be too simple!
The bowl comes in two sizes which hold as much as two or four cups of kibble. It has a non-skid bottom and is made of BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free plastic which is safe to wash in the top rack of the dishwasher.
Because of the twisty design, it can get grungy quickly and sometimes a top-rack wash isn’t enough to get it incredibly clean. In that case, soak in warm water and detergent first before scrubbing.
Price at time of publish: $18 (large)
Dimensions: 8.5 x 11.75 inches | Volume: 2 cups; 4 cups | Material: Plastic
LickiMat Wobble Slow Feeder Bowl
Bowl and lick mat combined
Not as messy as traditional mats
Only one size and color
Lick mats are an easy way to keep your pup entertained. They are typically flat pieces of silicone or rubber with ridges and shapes. Smear in some peanut butter, yogurt, or wet food and either feed like that or freeze. Then your dog works hard to get into the crannies.
This slow feeder from Lickimat is a lick mat in a bowl form. You can spread some creamy treats in the ridges and then fill it up with kibble or other treats. It’s not as messy as mats can be and the wobbling motion offers an extra challenge. It’s made from dishwasher-safe natural rubber and comes in turquoise.
Price at time of publish: $17
Dimensions: 6.3 x 6.3 x 4.5 inches | Volume: N/A | Material: Rubber
Frisco Bone Shaped Ridges Slow Feed Bowl
Less expensive than others
Top-rack dishwasher safe
Nonskid bottom and notch for easy lifting
Only one size
If you’re not sure if your pup will like a slow feeder and just want to start with an inexpensive one, this sturdy puzzle bowl from Frisco is a good entry-level option. It comes in pink or blue and features ridges and three bone-shaped obstacles to keep your pup from gulping down dinner. It has some nice features like a skid-proof bottom and a notch on the side to make the bowl easier to pick up.
The bowl can be cleaned in the top rack of the dishwasher. It only comes in one size, which holds up to three cups of food. That might be too big for puppies or small dogs who don’t eat that much at one sitting.
Price at time of publish: $8
Dimensions: 9 x 1.5 inches | Volume: 3 cups | Material: Plastic
Best for Short Snouts
Leashboss Tilted Flat Face Slow Feeder
Designed for flat-faced breeds
Rubber feet to resist sliding
Only one size available
Flat-faced breeds like pugs and bulldogs can have trouble reaching their mouths into some bowls, particularly those that are very deep. This slow feeder from Leashboss is designed particularly for short-snouted breeds. The feeder is tilted and has shallow grooves so pups won’t get frustrated trying to eat food around obstacles.
The bowl is made from BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free plastic and can be washed in the top rack of the dishwasher. It has non-skid rubber feet to keep it from sliding. It comes in two colors and also has a handle on the side which makes it easier to pick up.
Price at time of publish: $20
Dimensions: 8 x 0.5 inches | Volume: 1.5 cups | Material: Plastic
Neater Pets Raised Slow Feeder
Food only or food and water combination
Two sizes and three colors
Adjusts to three heights
Might be too easy for some dogs
These elevated feeders come as a food-only bowl or with combination side-by-side food and water dishes. The slow feeder has lots of elevated nubs and many crannies to slow down your pup during meals. The feeder adjusts to three heights: 2 inches, 3 inches, and 4.5 inches depending on the size of your dog.
The feeder is made in the U.S. of BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free plastic. It’s safe to clean in the top rack of the dishwasher, but you might want to remove the stand’s rubber feet before cleaning. It comes in three colors and in two sizes.
Price at time of publish: $27 (2.5 cups food)
Dimensions: 12.25 x 8.5 x 2.25 inches; 15.5 x 10.5 x 3 inches | Volume: 2.5 cups; 6 cups | Material: Plastic
Best for Small Dogs
Dogit Go Slow Anti-Gulping Dog Dish
Four sizes, including extra-small
More fragile than other bowls
This simple bowl can be used for wet food, dry kibble, or water. It has just a few peaks and ridges to make meals a little more challenging. The bowl comes in four sizes, including extra-small, which holds just 1/2 cup of food and is just over 5 inches wide. It’s made of BPA- and PVC-free plastic and can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
The bowl comes in four colors—pink, blue, black, and white—and has a non-skid base. It’s made of a sturdy melamine plastic which has a little more weight than softer, lighter materials. Rowdy dogs aren’t easily able to move it or tip it over.
Price at time of publish: $10
Dimensions: 1.6 x 5.5 inches (extra-small); 2.3 x 6.9 inches (small); 2.7 x 8.7 inches (medium); 3.3 x 10.7 (large) | Volume: 0.5 cup; 1.25 cups; 2.5 cups; 5 cups | Material: Plastic
Best for Large Dogs
Leashboss Slow Feed Dog Bowl
Three sizes, including one that holds 4 cups for large dogs
Standalone or can be used in an elevated feeder
Top-rack dishwasher safe
Can be hard to clean all the grooves
This Leashboss slow feed bowl can be used as a standalone dish or it can be placed inside an elevated feeder. The plastic bowl has a lip to keep it in place in a feeder and the non-slip rubber helps keep it stationary if you set the bowl on a floor or on a mat. It’s made of BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free material.
The bowl comes in three sizes with the largest holding up to four cups of kibble or wet food. The maze-filled bowl can be washed in the top rack of a dishwasher. It comes in two colors: blue and gray.
Price at time of publish: $16
Dimensions: 6.5 x 6.5 x 2 inches; 8.25 x 7.25 x 1.7 inches; 9.75 x 9.75 x 2 inches | Volume: 1.5 cups; 2 cups; 4 cups | Material: Plastic
Our Pets Spiral Slow Feeder Insert
Can be moved between bowls
Top-rack dishwasher safe
Only one color and size
Too big for small bowls
This pinwheel insert can be placed into a regular dog food bowl to turn it into a slow feeder. It fits most bowls, but ideally works best in large ones that hold between four and 11 cups where there’s plenty of room. There’s a suction cup on the bottom to help it stay in place. Start with a clean bowl before attaching the insert.
It’s made of BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free flexible silicone and is safe to clean in the top rack of the dishwasher. It only comes in one size and one color (turquoise) and may be too big for particularly small bowls.
Price at time of publish: $14
Dimensions: 5 x 2.4 inches | Volume: N/A | Material: Silicone
Best Puzzle Feeder Toy
West Paw Zogoflex Toppl Puzzle Toy
Good with dry or wet food
Nest in each other to be more challenging
Three sizes and several colors
Great for freezing snacks
There are so many ways to use this durable, colorful puzzle toy from West Paw. You can simply put either wet or dry food in the toy and then let your dog lick it and roll out the pieces. To make it more challenging, you can top a large Toppl with a small one so there’s only a small spot where the kibble can pop through.
There are teeth-like ridges in the bottom that can trap treats and other goodies. You can spoon in wet food, yogurt, or kibble that has been soaked in water or broth. Then freeze it for a long-lasting treat or meal. The Toppl comes in three sizes and five colors.
Toppls are made in Montana with BPA-free, dishwasher-safe plastic. They come with a guarantee that your pet will love it or they’ll replace it.
Price at time of publish: $25 (large)
Dimensions: 2.5 x 3 x 3 inches (small); 3.5 x 4 x 3.5 inches (large); 3.75 x 4.75 x 4.75 inches (extra large) | Volume: 0.25 cup; 0.75 cup; 1.75 cups | Material: Plastic
Our favorite slow feeder is the Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo Bowl in the turquoise drop shape. It has deep, challenging grooves, a non-skid base, and comes in two sizes. If you prefer stainless steel over plastic, check out the Neater Pets Stainless Steel Slow Feeder Bowl. It’s durable, easy to clean, and also comes in two sizes.
What to Look for in a Slow Feeder Bowl
"Make sure the size of the dish is appropriate for your dog’s size and will adequately hold the amount of food in their meals,” Denise Lott, veterinarian assistant at Hello Ralphie, a pet telehealth company, told The Spruce Pets.
Measure how much food your dog eats at one meal then buy a bowl that holds at least that much. If the bowl is too small, then the food will be piled on top, which defeats the purpose of slowing down your pup at dinnertime. To make it more challenging, buy the next size up from what you would normally feed.
“[These obstructions] physically prevent pets from eating food too fast,” says Laura Robinson, veterinarian and advisor to the online pet clinic Pawp. But they also come with a few other advantages too.
“They can be used to provide enrichment for pets and to mentally stimulate them to work for their food,” says Robinson, and “they can be used for dogs who seem to be always hungry as it forces them to slow down, which will help to send signals to their brain that they are full.”
The shape and spacing of the ridges in a slow feeder bowl will impact how hard it is to use. If your dog gets frustrated easily, you might want to choose a dish with fewer obstacles. If your dog likes puzzles and challenges, then opt for a bowl with deeper grooves and more complex patterns.
All bowls need to be cleaned often and slow feeders are particularly prone to getting gunky because of all the nooks and ridges. It’s a good idea to choose bowls that can be cleaned in the top rack of the dishwasher. You might still need to soak them first if they have a lot of caked-on food left behind.
Like more traditional dishes, slow feeder bowls come in all sorts of materials including plastic, stainless steel, ceramic, and silicone.
Stainless steel bowls are the most durable and easy to clean. They don’t harbor bacteria and are dishwasher safe. Make sure the materials are food-grade and discard them if they develop rust.
Ceramic or stoneware bowls have a protective glaze that also makes them easy to clean. They can break if dropped and the bowls are no longer safe to use if they develop chips or cracks.
If choosing a plastic or silicone item, make sure it's nontoxic and free from BPA, phthalates, and other potentially hazardous materials. If your dog likes to chew, these might not always be the best choice because they can gnaw off pieces.
Dog Breed or Anatomy
Pups with flat faces—like bulldogs and pugs—can have trouble reaching down into the grooves of a slow feeder bowl. For them, look for more shallow ridges so they don’t get frustrated. Likewise, dogs with very long noses might find shallow bowls too easy.
Are slow feeder bowls good for puppies?
Yes, slow feeder bowls can be used for any age, from puppies to seniors. More playful puppies might even enjoy the mealtime stimulation more than an older dog. Plus, with a slow feeder bowl you can help your puppy develop slower eating habits early, making it a good pick for puppies of breeds more susceptible to bloat. Dogs that are larger and deep-chested, such as Great Danes, boxers, and German shepherds are most at risk for bloat.
Do slow feeder bowls work with wet food?
Yes, although slow feeder bowls tend to be used more for dry food.
“Wet food takes a little longer to eat it so can keep them busier longer,” says Robinson, explaining why it's less common to need a slow feeder bowl for dogs accustomed to wet food. But keep in mind that some designs might work better with dry food than with wet food.
"The simpler the feeder is, the better it will work with wet or raw food. Definitely make sure your feeder is dishwasher safe if using wet food," Robinson says.
Why Trust The Spruce Pets?
For this roundup, we talked to dog owners, fosters, and rescue volunteers. We also combed through hundreds of reviews to find the best slow feeder bowls. We evaluated them based on materials, design, volume, and size.
This article was written by Mary Jo DiLonardo, a dog products reviewer for The Spruce Pets. The proud mom of a rescue dog, she has fostered around 60 dogs and puppies. She always feeds her own dog and her foster pups with slow feeders or snuffle mats. She has tried lots of different bowls and is always looking for the most durable and effective pet products. For more than 25 years, she has covered a wide range of topics focused on nature, pets, science, and anything that helps make the world a better place.
When choosing the best dog bowls, we relied on our own experience as dog parents, user reviews, and veterinarian or vet technician recommendations to find bowls that were well-designed, safe, and easy to clean. We spoke to Denise Lott, veterinarian assistant at Hello Ralphie, a pet telehealth company and Laura Robinson, veterinarian and advisor to the online pet clinic Pawp.
A previous version of this roundup was written by Steven Rowe, a writer with a rescue beagle who has a tendency to eat too fast. His dog has tried out several of the bowls on this list.