Why Do Some Dogs Swallow Their Food Whole?

Red cocker spaniel and black and white husky standing over their food bowls, swallowing their kibble whole.

We get it. You humans are curious about us. In your collective opinion we may even showcase strange behavior in comparison to what you all consider “normal.” Eating and the way we (dogs) eat is just another one of those cases. For instance, you may be wondering why some dogs have a tendency to swallow their food whole. Let’s dive into that a bit deeper. Shall we?

Some dogs swallow their food whole due to an innate and intrinsic behavior attributed to survival. This is an evolutionary characteristic that some dogs may still exhibit. A dog’s teeth aren’t necessarily designed to savor their food, but to instead shred and devour.

I personally chew my food, but my husky sister swallows hers whole. As I’ve mentioned before, huskies are a breed on their own and are still aesthetically and mentally closely aligned with their animalistic wolf brethren. This is the most simplistic form of the answer to the “why do some dogs swallow their food whole” question you’re searching for. In short, survival. That’s why.

But keep reading. There’s more.

Disclaimer: The Can My Dog articles contain information based on the individual research and opinions of the author of the site – who just so happens to be a dog. How you utilize the information given is completely up to you. Proceed at your own risk.

Where the Behavior For Dogs to Swallow Their Food Whole Comes From

As I briefly alluded to in the introductory section of this article, some dogs swallow their food whole as an act of survival.

But why?

Let’s think about this concept for a moment. Dogs, or canines by nature, are scavengers. They have historically had to scavenge and hunt for their food sources on a daily basis. Oftentimes, this means coming in contact with potential danger or other threats looking for the same food they have in their mouths in that very moment. Or even worse, larger game looking to feast on slightly smaller game currently feasting on another less fortunate animal.

I don’t know about you, but that would make me swallow my food whole and get on about my business in a hurried manner as well.

Think survival of the fittest here. Wild animals eat to live, rather than living to eat. Pleasure isn’t a top priority, but sustenance and survival is.

Oftentimes this means eating in a hurry and the fastest way to eat anything is to swallow it whole.

Is It Safe For a Dog to Swallow Their Food Whole?

Within reason, and assuming your dog isn’t attempting to swallow massive amounts of raw meat at once – swallowing their food whole poses no immediate threat to their health and well being.

Just observe them and watch them closely when they eat.

Don’t leave food out for them at all times and especially when you’re not there.

It’s best to monitor a dog who swallows their food whole to be there to help mitigate the risk of your dog possibly choking.

A Dog’s Teeth Aren’t Designed to Savor Food

Let’s take a macro approach to observing teeth for a minute. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but my human parents are vegan. As a matter of fact they feed us a vegan diet as well.

I bring this up not because all vegans brag about being vegan, but to highlight the argument on shredding meat with your teeth and chewing for pleasure versus demolishing for survival.

Let’s take a closer look.

Close up of a woman's top teeth as she smiles.
Human teeth – Flat and meant for chewing, tasting, and savoring food.

Here we have a set of human teeth. What do you see here? Flat, relatively all the same length, optimal for chewing, tasting, and savoring food. Food that’s most likely not extremely tough or hard. You know, like cupcakes and stuff!

Now take a look at these pearly whites below.

Close up of a dog's top teeth while holding a toy in his mouth.
Dog teeth – Sharp and separated best used for ripping and tearing food.

I know what you’re thinking. Dogs are carnivores like humans. This is one of the main reasons why you should never feed your dog cat food. But that’s a topic for another day.

I want you to mainly focus on the K-9’s right now. The long sharp vampire-like teeth on both sides of your dog’s mouth. These bad boys are designed to tear, rip, and shred food if necessary.

The shape and function of your dog’s mouth and teeth are not meant to smack gum and blow bubbles all day like your human mouth is. Ours just doesn’t work this way.

We get in and we get out when it comes to food and nourishing our bodies with whatever we happen to find that day. Even if it is just the same old dry nuggets you feed your dog on a daily basis. The rules still remain. Get in and get out. Swallow the food whole to expedite the entire process.

Other Reasons Some Dogs Swallow Their Food Whole

Let us not rule out the possibility of a medical condition here.

While the predominance of this behavior can be chalked up to time constraints derived from evolutionary survival tactics, other times it’s important to consider dog dental issues.

Have you considered that your dog may be swallowing their food whole now because they have a massive tooth ache? This may especially be the case if this is a new trait you’re beginning to observe in your dog.

Sudden changes in your dogs usual behavior (especially in the way they generally eat) are huge red flags as far as medical issues are concerned.

If you dog use to chew their food and now you’ve noticed them swallowing it whole, call your vet immediately. It’s crucial to get the underlying reasoning sorted out sooner than later.

Gum, tooth, dental, oral, and all the above are health concerns that need to be taken seriously in your dog.

Ways to Stop Your Dog From Swallowing Their Food Whole

Altering an innate behavior such as survival traits in your dog can be quite difficult. But not impossible. With enough time, attention, and consistency, you’ll be able to essentially train the unwanted behavior out of your dog.

Start here and adjust accordingly. One or a combination of a couple of these should do the trick. Remember, consistence and routine will always be the key when it comes to training your dog to do anything!


I get it. Food is good and sometimes it’s hard to slow down long enough to chew.

Have patience with your dog if you’re trying to discourage this behavior. If you don’t care and you came to this post to make sure it was safe for your dog to swallow their food whole – then rest assured. All is well, and not all that uncommon.

Onwards and upwards, humans. Just continue to Live, Love, Laugh, and Scratch our Bellies often.

Love you guys,


P.S. If you’re new to this world, you may want to check out my Ultimate Guide for First Time Dog Parents. It’s a great reference to get you started on this journey.

This article has been reviewed by our Editorial Board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our Editorial Policies.

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