Sloppy Eaters— What Your Pet is Trying to Tell You With Their Mess

What a mess!Most cats and dogs are pretty neat eaters. Unlike other animals, like birds, whose natural instinct is to fling their food, our furry friends like to keep their meal contained. But, unfortunately, that is not always the case. If you notice your pet making a giant mess of their food bowl or if their food area has started to look like the domain of a wild animal, other factors may be at play.

Medical Causes

The very first thing to check for if your pet starts making a mess is underlying medical issues. There are quite a few medical conditions that can prevent your pet from eating neatly:

Brachycephalic syndrome

This is the short headed condition bred into Bulldogs and other related breeds. This malformation can make chewing really hard for dogs. If you have a short headed dog and you start noticing problems, it is likely time to take them to a vet to see if there is any pain you can help alleviate.

Peridontal disease

If you see your pet not eating it might be due to mouth pain from disease or injury. A messy eater might be your reminder to take your pet in for their annual dental cleaning at a pet dentist.

Oral ulcerations or cancers

Oral ulcers or lumps can be painful and prevent your dog from chewing or swallowing normally. These bumps and spots can be signs of very serious diseases and if you notice them, take your pet immediately to the vet.

Behavioral Causes

If you have ruled out medical causes for your pet’s messy eating by taking them to a vet and pet dentist, the next thing to consider is behavioral problems. There are a two main underlying causes that can lead to messy eating.

Food hoarding

Have you noticed your pet is not just making a mess but seems to be actively trying to spread their food outside of their bowl? Perhaps they are picking up pieces of kibble and carrying them someplace else in the room or the house or they are frantically trying to eat as much as possible and splattering food everywhere in the process. These may be signs that your pet is worried about when they will get their next meal. It may also just be a symptom of general anxiety in your pet.


Do you notice your pet batting around food or splashing or pawing around in their water? This may just be a bored pet having some fun.

If you notice your pet making a mess, don’t just sigh and pull out the broom. Check it out and make sure your pet is healthy and happy. After all, they might be trying to communicate something over that meal.