Some dogs are very food-orientated and it can seem like they are always ready for their next bowl of dog food. However, if you’ve noticed a change in your dog’s appetite, it can be a sign of a health issue.
It is therefore vital to look for other signs of illness too. Don’t give in and start giving them more than the recommended daily amount of food and treats.
Why does my dog eat so much?
There are many reasons why your dog may have a big appetite, and it isn’t always something to worry about.
It is a change in appetite that should concern you the most.
However, it isn’t ideal if your dog is always begging for food. It can lead to problem behaviour if they don’t get their own way. So, it is vital that you understand why your dog has a large appetite so you can stay on top of it.
Certain breeds are renowned for greed. These include:
- Cocker Spaniels
- Basset Hounds
Food is enjoyable for these dogs, so it is understandable they would want to eat more! However, some of the above breeds are also at higher risk of obesity due to their smaller size, especially if they don’t get enough exercise, so it is really important to stick to their daily recommended food intake.
Dogs in multi-pet households can also seem greedier, as they could be used to finishing off whatever is left by their sibling. While this behaviour isn’t often a concern, it is vital that you control their food intake so they don’t become used to having too much food.
If they do see their sibling finish off what they believe is theirs, it could cause protective or guarding behaviours with food and toys.
Try feeding them separately to your other pets. If you have a cat, you may want to opt for a microchip feeder, which will prevent your dog from gaining access.
Dogs who are very active will be hungrier than more sedentary hounds. A working sheepdog, for instance, will be hungrier than a sheepdog who lives in an ordinary family home.
This is why it is vital to work out your dog’s recommended food intake based on their activity levels as well as their age, size, and the type of food they’re given.
Do you have a rescue dog? Both underfeeding and overfeeding in their past life can lead to an excessive appetite. This will require getting them into a normal routine; it could be worth feeding them little and often throughout the day, rather than just two meals.
Double check you are actually feeding them enough! It can sound silly but is a common problem.
Different foods will require different amounts given to your dog. So, reassess how much you give your dog if you’ve changed the food brand or even if the recipe for their favourite dog food has changed.
You may also have to consider specialised food. High-calorie food will keep active dogs fuller for longer. Talk to your vet if your dog is young or old, or has underlying health issues, as they will be able to recommend if specialised food is needed.
Is there a problem?
If your dog’s hunger is starting to concern you, it is a good idea to talk to a vet.
After all, overfeeding can be dangerous. You may think you’re helping them to feel full and satisfied, but if they’re getting more calories than necessary, it can lead to obesity, digestion issues and pressure on their internal organs.
Being withdrawn, or extra clingy, are two behavioural signs something may be wrong. A change in energy levels could point towards diabetes, and a change in toilet habits may be a sign of issues with digestion.
While some dogs are just sometimes ravenous on particular days, overeating and hunger could also be a sign of:
- gastrointestinal issues
- Cushing’s disease (when the adrenal glands overproduce cortisol)
If your dog seems to have a big appetite but is also losing weight, this is a serious sign they may have worms.
What to do if you notice a change in appetite with your dog
As mentioned, a random day of never-ending hunger shouldn’t result in too much worry, especially if everything goes back to normal the next day.
But if it becomes the norm, you may want to look out for other signs of ill health too.
If you are ever worried at all, it is worth informing your vet. If they are concerned, they may ask you to take your dog in for a checkup. They can assess your dog for any health issues, and also inform you of how best to treat the issue.
It is times like this when an online vet can come in handy. They can talk you through any advice, and refer you to your vet if they are concerned.
How to keep a dog feeling fuller for longer
You’ve been to the vet and there are no issues. It is a relief, but you still need to prevent begging and other problems.
- Make them work for their food – a slow feeder can mean meals last longer, so they can feel fuller quicker
- Feed little and often. Their daily intake can be given in multiple smaller meals. They may feel satisfied after the act of eating, no matter how much they’ve had
- Divert their attention. If your dog is rewarded with treats for good behaviour, try switching to rewarding them with toys instead. You may also need to switch to walking them more.
The above suggestions are all the first steps to take if your dog is always hungry. If there are any other concerns, or you have tried changing their diet, always contact your vet for advice and to rule out anything more serious.