Is your dog acting like it’s never been fed for forever? Most dogs are food-driven, so it’s not surprising that many of them will seek food whenever they can. Bulldogs, for one, have a voracious appetite, and they will always beg for food. With this, knowing how to deal with a dog that is always hungry is key to putting an end to your pet’s food-begging habits.
Take note that while it’s normal for dogs to be always hungry, it can also point to health problems in some cases. The key here is identifying the symptoms. Below, I discussed this in length to help fellow dog owners.
Why is my dog always hungry?
If your dog is acting hungry all the time, the following might be the reasons why:
🐶It’s in the breed
Sometimes, your dog’s unending hunger is just due to the breed. The likes of Bulldogs, Dachshunds, Beagles, Golden Retrievers, and Pugs have an insatiable appetite. Unfortunately, this also makes them prone to obesity and other orthopedic problems.
In contrast, dog breeds like Huskies and Boston Terriers can be picky eaters. In the end, it’s all about knowing your dog’s personality and observing whether their hunger is accompanied by other symptoms.
Aside from that, this obsession with food might be a result of learned behavior. You’re probably tossing your dog table scraps whenever it starts to beg. This will lead to a slew of behavioral problems in the long run.
Intestinal parasites can also lead to unending hunger in canines. This is because the worms are stealing nutrition from the canine, which will cause hunger and unexplained weight loss.
Aside from that, dogs with intestinal parasites will suffer from recurring diarrhea and vomiting. This happens as the body tries to expel the growing worm population.
Take note that intestinal parasites feed on your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. They steal nutrients, so no matter how you feed your dog with premium food, it will still feel hungry and look malnourished. And even as your dog eats more, it will not show weight gain.
Intestinal parasites in dogs rarely go away on their own. Without treatment, your canine’s health will suffer and can lead to death in no time.
Another thing pet owners should know about intestinal parasites is that it’s highly contagious. So if you suspect that one of your dogs has worms, you should isolate it right away from the rest of the pack.
Aging dogs often experience a change in appetite. Some will start to be finicky, while others will be hungrier than ever. Take note that this increase in hunger among senior dogs is often related to health problems, which require immediate veterinary care.
For example, middle-aged to senior canines have a higher risk of developing hyperthyroidism. This health problem causes the body’s metabolism to go on overdrive. That means your pooch will suffer from a faster heartbeat, nervousness, and an increased appetite.
🐶Side effects of medications
Another potential reason behind your dog’s hunger is the side effects of its medications. Some medications used by vets mimic the effect of ghrelin. This is the hormone that signals the dog’s brain to feel hungry. With this, it’s normal for your dog to become extra hungry while taking the medication.
It’s important to discuss this with your dog’s vet to confirm whether the increase in appetite is related to its current medication. This will also give your dog the chance to be diagnosed properly in case the vet suspects another condition.
Canine diabetes is similar to human diabetes. It can either be triggered by insulin insensitivity or lack of insulin. One of its hallmark symptoms is increased hunger accompanied by weight loss, lethargy, degrading eyesight, and increased thirst/urination.
Diabetic dogs get hungry all the time because their cells aren’t receiving the glucose that’s floating in their bloodstream. This can happen even if your pet is eating enough food.
In the process, the glucose in the blood will not be absorbed by the body. It will be flushed out through the kidney, which is taxing to the internal organ. So aside from experiencing lingering hunger, your dog will soon succumb to kidney failure if its diabetes isn’t controlled.
Gastrointestinal issues can cause poor nutrient absorption in dogs even if parasites aren’t present. When this happens, the much-needed nutrients will be excreted instead of being absorbed into the body. This will make your dog hungrier than usual, not to mention that it will be accompanied by weight loss.
If your dog is eating anything it can put its paws on, you should have it checked for Pica. This may initially appear as a mere case of hunger until your dog starts eating inedible items. This can be grass, your shoes, paper, and so on. No matter how much you feed your pet, it will keep on consuming these non-food items.
Moreover, vets aren’t sure what causes Pica in dogs. Still, some cases are related to gastrointestinal anemia, pancreatic disease, and liver problems. Whatever it is, you should seek immediate veterinary care for your pet.
Cushing’s disease is a condition wherein the adrenal glands of a canine overproduces cortisol or the stress hormone. Cortisol is the main stress hormone of the body, which acts as an alarm system.
Since cortisol levels are at a high, your dog will be more compelled to seek food. This hunger is the body’s survival response as it detects a threat. Aside from excessive eating, you’ll notice your dog drinking more.
Over time, a dog with Cushing’s disease will appear pot-bellied as fat levels within the abdominal organs increase. When not treated right away, the affected canine will start to have breathing issues, infections, and other serious health issues.
Most of the time, Cushing’s disease is triggered by a pituitary or adrenal tumor. It’s crucial to get your dog checked by a veterinarian to diagnose the problem properly.
How to deal with a dog that is always hungry
Having a voracious appetite will seem cute at first, but once your dog’s food-begging behavior becomes worse, it will start to be annoying. Before that happens, you should take action. Here are some of my proven recommendations:
✔️Get your dog checked first
The first thing you should do with an always-hungry dog is to bring it to the vet. This is especially important if you suspect that your pet is suffering from other health conditions. If an increase in appetite is accompanied by an increase in urination, lethargy, sleepiness, and weight loss, you should get the dog checked.
It’s important to rule out potential health problems first. And in case your pet gets diagnosed with a health problem, the vet can provide a set of instructions on how to handle the condition. This will include managing your dog’s hunger pangs.
✔️Assess what’s causing hunger pangs
Once the vet has ruled out any health problems, it’s important to check what’s causing hunger pangs on your canine. Most of the time, we, humans, are the main reasons why our dogs have an insatiable hunger.
Many pet owners are guilty of humanizing their pets. They feel bad whenever their dogs show up with the ‘starving face’ (Bulldog owners know this well!). In turn, they give in and feed the pooch. Aside from that, your dog’s hunger might be an attention-seeking behavior.
By understanding the root cause of the problem, you can approach it properly. You can also involve the vet in the process if you’re not sure what’s wrong with your dog.
✔️Divide meals into multiple servings
For dogs that get hungry easily in between meals, multiple servings may work. Take note that you’re just going to increase the servings, not the amount of food. Still, you have to make sure that you’re not underfeeding your dog.
Instead of two servings for an adult canine, you can divide the day’s entire food supply into three or four meals. This way, your doggo won’t have to wait for long periods before it can have food.
However, this method will prove challenging for those who are busy and working long hours. Nevertheless, smart feeders with a scheduling feature will be a big help here. You can also hire pet sitters to check on your dog and feed it as scheduled.
✔️Be smart with treats
Another way to curb your dog’s hunger is to use treats in between meals. This will bridge the waiting time, so your doggo will not beg for food or whine due to hunger.
I recommend giving high-fiber treats that will keep your dog full for long periods. And just like your dog’s actual meals, the treats should have ample nutrition and healthy ingredients.
For this, I highly recommend the Fruitables All Natural Pumpkin Baked Dog Treats. This has pumpkin and oats as the main ingredients, which are a good source of fiber. It’s also blended with barley, potatoes, and superfoods that will keep your dog full in between meals.
These treats come in various flavors, which will suit even the finickiest canine. It also comes at a pack of five for a low price.
✔️Stick to a strict feeding schedule
Many dogs that appear hungry all the time are used to being free-fed all day long. This isn’t a healthy habit and will often lead to food-begging problems later on.
Remember that canines are beings of habits. Once they get used to a feeding routine, they will be able to predict the next mealtimes. This will potentially reduce food begging.
For puppies, it’s ideal to schedule four to five meals spread throughout the day. As your dog grows bigger and older, you can start reducing the meal frequency and combining them into bigger servings.
✔️Curb food-begging behavior
Your dog’s unending hunger can be a learned behavior. This is why you should stop giving table scraps or tossing food whenever your pet demands it.
Free-feeding is never a smart choice for dogs. Aside from enforcing food begging, it will also make your dog obese. Again, this will bring us back to setting a feeding schedule for your pet.
It’s also important to talk to your family about not giving in to your dog’s begging. It’s also best to prohibit giving human food to your dog.
✔️Make your dog earn its food.
You can leverage your dog’s desire for food into a training opportunity. The good thing here is that you know right away what your dog wants. It will be easier for you to encourage them to heed your commands.
Using food as a training motivation will also help your dog keep its mind off food-begging. Over time, your dog will realize that food isn’t freely given but worked on.
On the other hand, you should consider the possibility that your dog’s hunger could be more emotional than physical. This happens when a dog associates food with playtime or any positive experience with its owner. In this case, try to give a non-food reward and see how your dog will react to it.
✔️Keep the pooch distracted
Keeping your dog busy and distracted in between meals will prevent it from begging for food. Playtime, interactive toys, and walks around the neighborhood are just some of the effective methods to use.
With proper physical and mental stimulation, your dog won’t have the energy to beg for food. However, you should never overdo exercise as it can lead to hypoglycemia. This condition can put your dog’s life at risk, especially if the doggo isn’t given immediate access to food.
Remember that exercise levels should be matched to the size and energy level of your dog. For example, Bulldogs need a lower level of exercise compared to active breeds like Golden Retrievers or German Shepherds.
✔️Deworm your dog regularly
Aside from feeding strategies, it’s also crucial to deworm your dog regularly. This is because parasites are one of the leading causes of unending hunger among canines.
Puppies should be dewormed every two weeks until it reaches 12 weeks of age. After that, deworming can be done monthly up to the dog’s sixth month. Thereafter, adult canines must be dewormed quarterly to ensure optimal protection against nutrient-stealing parasites.
It’s important to involve your dog’s vet in the process to ensure proper and safe deworming. Remember that the dewormer dosages are always matched to the weight of the canine.
Dogs can be stubborn when it comes to food, so you should set boundaries as early as possible.
For example, you should train your dog not to sit near the table when you’re eating. Also, you shouldn’t tolerate whining whenever there’s food that your dog wants.
Positive reinforcement and the reward system will be a big help here. Never use physical violence or any form of punishment, as this will just lead to other behavioral problems.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do dogs stop eating when they are full?
A: Most of the time, dogs don’t know when they are full. This is why many canines will still gobble up food even if their tummies can no longer handle it. It’s also the reason why some dogs suffer from gastric torsion or bloating. As pet owners, it’s our responsibility to ensure that our dogs aren’t consuming too much food than what they need.
Q: Do dogs know when to stop drinking water?
A: Some dogs can be pretty obsessed with drinking water because of health problems. In this case, some of them may not know when to stop. You have to get your dog checked to identify what’s causing the excessive thirst. Most of the time, this behavior is due to metabolic problems like diabetes.
Q: Can dogs have a food addiction?
A: Dogs can become more obsessed and possessive with their food, which some pet owners may perceive as ‘food addiction.’ This can be rooted in resource guarding, where canines exhibit aggressive reactions when another person or pet gets near their food.
Q: How do I know if my dog is really hungry?
A: If you can see your dog’s ribs, that could mean that your pooch is undernourished and in need of more food. This might also be the reason why your pet seems to be hungrier than ever. Also, weakness and reluctance to move may mean that your pet is succumbing to hypoglycemia due to skipped or insufficient meals.
Q: Why is my dog getting aggressive over food?
A: Food aggression is a common problem among canines. The dog will become hostile when another pet or person tries to get near their food. This often occurs when a canine isn’t trained or socialized well. While this problem can be intimidating, there are workarounds pet owners can explore.
Knowing how to deal with a dog that is always hungry is crucial for every pet owner. This will save you from annoying behavior and your dog from the risk of obesity. You can also seek the help of a veterinarian if all your efforts aren’t showing results.
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