Is Your Dog Always Acting Hungry? [Here’s Why]
It can't be more cliched, but we still hear it all the time, dogs eat anything and everything. No matter what breed or age your dog is, you can't stop her from trying to get a taste of everything. Dogs just identify and test things by licking and biting on them. Moreover, they will want a taste of whatever you're eating (you know what I'm talking about).
But it doesn't always mean they're hungry. It's just a natural trait of canines. However, overeating can lead to several health complications in your dog. Here we'll discuss how many meals your dog should have in a day so you can get a better understanding of when she's overeating.
But first, we need to know possible reasons why your dog is hungry all the time:
Three Reasons Your Dog May Be Overeating
1. Health Issues
It's essential to identify whether your dog is dealing with health issues. Overeating can have dire consequences in the wake of health concerns.
Look out for the following symptoms and contact your vet if your pup suffers from any of these:
- Diabetes: It's a common disease in middle-aged dogs caused by the deficiency of insulin or the body's inability to respond to it. Insulin helps convert glucose into energy. Hence, the lack of it causes the glucose to accumulate in the blood, causing hypoglycemia. Increased thirst and appetite are the early symptoms of diabetes.
- Inflammatory Bowel Problems: Another common issue that leads to a lack of appetite is Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The gastrointestinal problem intervenes in the absorption of nutrients from food leading to hunger. This disease is more common in older dogs, particularly Irish setters, Lundehunds, French bulldog, etc.
- Hyperthyroidism: This disease puts metabolism into overdrive by the overproduction of thyroxine by the thyroid gland. Thyroxine hormone is responsible for chemical processes inside cells. It's quite rare in dogs, but your vet would know better.
- Intestinal Cancer: The tumors that cause cancer lead to malabsorption of food, which in turn results in increased hunger or appetite. Consult your vet to look for gastrointestinal cancers like adenocarcinoma and leiomyosarcoma in your dog's intestines.
- Intestinal Parasites: Roundworms or tapeworms might have built their homes in your dog's stomach just like they do in children. These parasites absorb dietary nutrients, thus leaving your dog hungry despite eating more than enough.
2. Bad Habits
If your vet rules out any health issues as the problem of your dogs hunger, you might be the problem. If you feed your dog with irresistible treats every time she looks at you lovingly, she has become habitual of such.
Moreover, many of us pet owners treat our dogs while training as a sign of approval and motivation. Sometimes our dogs also 'train' us to feed them treats when they are starving or begging for food.
3. Nutritional Deficiencies
Another reason might be that your pup is growing up, but you are still feeding her like she is a puppy. You can't feed your 70-pound dog the same food you did when she was 50 pounds a year ago. Moreover, if your dog goes on regular walks and plays a lot, she needs a nutritious diet. You might need to reconsider her dog food needs.
How to Help Your Dog Who Is Always Hungry
Having a dog with an insatiable appetite, it's time you take some strict measures. Ignoring the problem might well result in serious health issues related to dog obesity.
Here are a few useful tips to control your dog's appetite:
Trim Her Treats
If you have been too lenient in feeding treats to your dog, it's time to become a little stricter. Stop feeding her treats every time she makes that adorable face. If treats are your training rewards, replace it with a clicker or toy, ball, etc.
Moreover, make sure your treats are low in calories and have good nutritional value. Fibrous food will keep your pup satisfied for longer.
Increase Protein & Fiber
Studies have shown that dogs eat less when you feed them food rich in both protein and fiber. It keeps them feeling full and provides them enough energy to last for a longtime.
Feed Low-Calorie Snacks
If your dog gets hungry between meals, try to satisfy her hunger through low-calorie, nutritious food. Apple slices, beans and carrots are good snacks to fill in between meals.
Replace Snacks With Playtime
You might be feeding your dog when all she wants is a little one-on-one time. Playing with her will distract her from wasteful hunger and help her get rid of the snacking habit.
Feed Your Dog According to Weight
You shouldn't feed your dog food just because she asks for more. Discuss with your vet your dog's nutritional needs and diet plans. Nutrition should be given according to your dog's ideal weight and age and not based on her current weight.
How Many Meals Should Dogs Have Per Day?
Dogs learn eating habits from a very young age. If you have a way of feeding your puppy as much as she wants, stop it right now. It can lead to juvenile obesity, diabetes, binge eating, and even orthopedic problems. It can also cause stomach discomfort and bloating.
Here is the optimal feeding plan based on a dog's age:
Since dogs grow fastest as puppies, they need more food than adult dogs. But you shouldn't feed them large meals that their digestive system can't handle. Opt for small frequent meals during their transition to solid food. Puppies can eat around three times a day after four months.
For the first three months, you should feed toy breed puppies 4 to 6 small meals per day. Medium and large breed puppies are good to have three to four meals a day. After twelve months, you can feed them like an adult dog.
Feeding Adult Dogs
Regular sized dogs should eat at least two meals a day. Feeding your dog breakfast, lunch, and dinner is also acceptable as long as you set limits. Leaving a dog to starve for over 12 hours WILL also cause severe problems. You should also consider multivitamins for dogs
Do Dogs Know When to Stop Eating?
Your dog's sense of when to stop eating food depends upon its breed. Some dogs aren't smart enough and would eat until everything in front of them disappears.
However, most dogs do realize that they've become full and move away from their food bowl. It's still a good idea to only feed your dog portions recommended by your vet.
What Happens if Your Overfeed Your Dog?
Overfeeding can be a severe problem for dogs, especially if yours is a puppy. If your puppy snacks like a human, she may grow too fast, leading to excess fat accumulation and skeletal development problems. These are all causes of health issues in the long term.
The recommended formula for calculating your dog's daily calorie intake is multiplying by her ideal body weight by 30 and adding 70 to it. For example, if your dog's weight is 9 kg and she isn't overweight, here is her calorie intake: 9 x 30 + 70 = 340 calories.
Wet or Dry - Which Food Is Best For Your Pup?
Both wet and dry dog food have their benefits. It depends on you and your dog's lifestyle, compatibility, and preferences.
Here are the benefits of wet and dry dog food:
Benefits of Dry Dog Food
Convenient: You can leave it out all day in her bowl without worrying about bacterial infections.
Economical: It's a much more affordable option than wet food, so it's the right choice on a budget.
Cleans Teeth: Dry dog foods are useful in eliminating tartar, stains, and plaque buildup.
Benefits of Wet Dog Food
Keeps Dog Hydrated: Wet food has good water content, so it's ideal if your dog doesn't drink much water.
Easier to Chew: Helps dogs who have problems with their teeth or have trouble chewing. It's also easy to intake for smaller dogs.
Satiety: Moisture in wet dog food gives your dog a sense of being full. It satisfies her appetite faster, thus avoiding overeating.
If you still are confused, your vet would have the best advice based on your dog's habits and lifestyle.
At What Age Should You Start Feeding Your Dog Less?
In terms of frequency, you should feed your dog not more than thrice a day after she's a year old. It would be better if you provide her just two meals a day at this age. Puppies need to be fed more frequently but avoid feeding more than a pea-sized amount in each meal. A slice of fruit or bite-sized dog food is enough before four months.
Dog Is Always Hungry Final Thoughts
You need to strike the right balance while feeding your dog. However, it isn't a cause to worry, if you are providing your pup a bit more once a month or so. It's only troubling if you are in the habit of over-feeding your dog or you can see stomach issues popping up.
Resource: Check out more dog health tips here.