Diet problems

Is it Normal for My Dog to Always Be Hungry?

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. August 12, 2018
Is it Normal for My Dog to Always Be Hungry?

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Anyone who has allowed their dog in the dining room at meal times knows how insatiable a dog's appetite can be. It is something often discussed with veterinarians. Although we may be adequately following their recommended diet, they may still beg for treats or search out more food anywhere they can get it. Knowing whether your dog is simply greedy, poorly educated or suffering from a diet affecting condition is not always simple. This is why AnimalWised takes a look at some of the possible reasons why your dog is always looking for food.

If your dog eats with anxiety and appears to have an insatiable hunger, then the anxiety might spill out into other areas of their life. We help you to know what might be the possible cause of this state of anxiety, but we must stress that only a qualified veterinarian will be able to provide an accurate diagnosis for your dog.

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  1. Eating habits of dogs
  2. How does leptin affect our dog
  3. Polyphagia in dogs
  4. How to know if my dog is hungry?
  5. How to help a dog which is obsessed by food

Eating habits of dogs

According to studies carried out on collected fecal samples of wild dogs, dogs in nature have a varied diet. This includes waste left by humans, small to medium animals such as cats and rodents and, to a lesser extent, plant material.

The domestic dog, however, has their diet taken care of by their human guardians. This is most commonly a complete feed which has been specifically designed and commercially produced to provide all the nutritional needs of the dog. Some may decide to provide their dog with either a partially or entirely homemade diet. Some may even choose to provide a raw food diet either with homemade food or store-bought produce.

How does leptin affect our dog

Leptin is a hormone which is present in many groups of animals including both animals and dogs. This hormone is responsible for inhibiting appetite and is released mainly by adipocytes (cells which make up fat or adipose tissue). However, it can also be released by the hypothalmus portion of the brain as well as the ovaries and placenta in female cats.

In a healthy animal with the correct weight and sufficient fat reserves, the apidocytes begin to release leptin. This travels through the blood to the brain, warning the body that it has already accumulated enough sustenance for energy and will suppress their appetite.

When a canine is overweight, problems can arise. Although they can release a lot of leptin, the body becomes resistant and does not understand that it already has enough energy. Something similar happens with dogs who suffer from diabetes mellitus. This is why overweight dogs more often than not often seems to be hungry.

Is it Normal for My Dog to Always Be Hungry? - How does leptin affect our dog

Polyphagia in dogs

A dog who is overly anxious about food or any object is displaying concerning behavior. Obsessions in dogs should be treated by a professional as it could derive from underlying problems such as stress, boredom, miseducation, poor conditioning or an underlying disease.

The condition of a dog which never stops eating and yet seems to still be hungry is known as polyphagia. Polyphagia usually appears alongside other symptoms such as obesity, weight gain or weight loss, polydipsia (increased water intake), polyuria (increased urination) and the inability to properly absorb nutrients.

Polyphagia can appear during the aging process of a dog, either because their ability to absorb certain nutrients lessens or due to side effects to certain medication. Some of the symptoms of diabetes, which is more prevalent in older dogs, may also increase a dog's food intake. Tumors or inflammation at the gastrointestinal level also can induce polyphagia.

If a dog eats too much, there are some serious possible consequences which we may not have considered. Bloat is a grace condition also known as gastric torsion. It can be caused by overeating or eating too rapidly. If left untreated it poses a serious threat to your dog.

How to know if my dog is hungry?

The first reason why we may think our dog is hungry is due to overeating or constantly seeking out food. They may go to their bowl and lick it when it is empty, push it toward you or even whine and beg.

Irrefutable evidence that our dog is hungry occurs when they begin to lose weight. In an obese dog, this weight loss is intentional, desired and necessary to help the dog reach a healthier size. However, it needs to be done under strict veterinary guidance and control.

However, if your dog is losing weight when they do not need to, it points to a sign than there is some underlying medical problem. We need to take them to a vet to run the correct diagnostic tests including blood and urine analysis. They should also carry out hormonal analysis to determine if there is a hormonal imbalance affecting their weight.

Another important factor in determining why your dog is always hungry is their obedience training. We love our dogs and many guardians find it difficult to refuse them when they are just so adorable. However, we need to ensure they do not become too expectant of treats. Not only can this lead to greediness and obesity, but it will make it more difficult to establish adequate training.

We use treats as a part of positive reinforcement when training our dogs. We use them for toilet training or simply recognizing their name. However, if we give them treats every time they ask or if we feed them during our meal times, we establish bad habits and encourage a lack of discipline. Sometimes your dog seems hungry all the time because you have trained them to be that way, even if done so inadvertently.

Is it Normal for My Dog to Always Be Hungry? - How to know if my dog is hungry?

How to help a dog which is obsessed by food

Once the dog has determined the cause of the polyphagia, they will be able to provide the right course of treatment. If the problem stems from a gastrointestinal issue, this will likely involve a change in their diet plan, the provision of medication or a combination of both. If the condition is due to diabetes, it will be necessary to medicate the dog to maintain their health.

If the problem arises from behavioral issues, measures need to be taken to help the dog change their behavior. Gradually changing the feed to one with higher fiber content might be an option as it can provide a diet which is more satiating. This then reduces their appetite, but speaking to a vet to confirm the best course of action is recommended.

We can also ration the food in smaller quantities throughout the day. This means that if your dog is continually looking for food, they can eat when they feel hungry, but won't be eating any more in total. However, we need to ensure their routine is changed gradually. This is because dogs will learn what time they eat and if you deviate from this too quickly they can become stressed. The reason they are stressed is because they think they will not be getting food and their survival instinct is piqued.

Dogs may be overeating or seemingly hungry all the time because of stress. The reasons for this stress is variable, so you will need to assess their living situation and ensure any stressors are removed. It could be due to overcrowding, lack of exercise, lack of physical or mental stimulation or even being routinely scolded.

If you want to read similar articles to Is it Normal for My Dog to Always Be Hungry?, we recommend you visit our Diet problems category.

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Is it Normal for My Dog to Always Be Hungry?