How exasperating can your dog be when you feed it, but it's like adding something to an abyss?
Dogs are believed to eat anything they are handed, whether hungry or not. A dog can be fed a whole meal, but it would still follow its owner around for treats and scrapes.
However, not all dogs develop this habit. Some get satisfied with whatever they are offered during feeding times, and when complete, they would stop eating.
Is it that when your dog is begging for food after meals, it's just asking for treats, did it not have enough, or is there something wrong?
Why do dogs want to eat all the time?
It may seem easy to notice when a dog is hungry, but it's trickier than it looks!
Insatiable dogs often get more than the required portion for their fair shares. Dog owners are often faced with the dilemma of whether to add food to a begging dog's bowl or not.
Many can't resist the temptation and end up adding food to the dog's bowl, not knowing that it could lead to obesity and weight issues.
A dog who regularly gets a balanced diet of high-quality, well-portioned food but still acts like it is starving may baffle its owner.
The main reason most dogs have an eternal strong desire to eat has not been determined yet, but there are a few formulated theories.
The most common is biological theory. Dogs are genetically prone to take meals greedily as if it's their last.
Today's domesticated dogs had close wild roots among foxes. Foxes are known to go for days without prey when food is scarce and hunt continuously when food is available, gobbling down greedily.
These instincts, especially after a hunt, may have given dogs a lifelong feeling and need to devour food before it disappears quickly.
This food mentality is limited, and a scarce resource may have carried on despite a dog being fed twice or thrice daily.
Are dogs perpetually hungry?
Pampered, well-fed dogs actualize begging as a way to receive more treats and often wag their tails in a happy gesture.
A dog owner may unintentionally overfeed their dog, exposing them to health problems and far worse obesity.
A breakfast, lunch, and dinner scheduled feeding time for a dog are efficient, but typically, a dog should eat at least twice a day with a 12-hour interval.
The amount of food fed depends on the dog's breed, weight, age, activity level, and general health.
Below are some obvious signs a dog is hungry:
- Licking lips in the presence or anticipation of food
- Going from room to room looking for food
- Scratching the ground after naps from hunger frustrations
- Showing interest in foreign objects
- Pawing and nudging at their owner's leg
- Sudden licking of paws
- Barking and whining constantly
- Walking around in a hunched posture
- Jumping up trying to snatch food from tables and counters
However, when your dog starts exhibiting these signs excessively, it is recommended that you keep a watchful eye on them and possibly seek a vet immediately to check for underlying problems.
Why is my dog still hungry after eating?
The causes of this wolfish eating behaviour in dogs are biological, an underlying health issue, or a usual routine.
Parasites may not be a primary cause for increased appetite in dogs, but they will make the dog lose weight prompting frequent feeding.
Possible causes for a dog's gluttonous reaction toward food include:
- Genetic Reasons: Dogs evolving from their wolf ancestry of an 'eat while you can' mentality may still linger in that memory-making dogs eat because food is offered to them and not because they are hungry.
- Habit Pattern: This is a simple matter of reinforcement, giving the dog a treat each time it gives you a distinct look. Dogs overtime have learned tricks to get their owners to share food and give out treats.
Continuous treats give the dogs a habit of it's okay to eat all the time, forcing them to deploy the hungry act just in case the treats stop.
- Emotional reasons: Dogs can undergo nervousness and anxiety. This can be from new visitors or pets who may pose as food rivals, especially if the latter is not trained and doesn't respect the dog's boundaries regarding food.
- Health Concerns: Many dogs love food, and their ravening state is usually food motivated, but increased appetite can be a sign of underlying health problems.
Diabetes, for one, disables the dog's body from assimilating blood sugars. Lack of insulin locks out glucose from the blood cells sending hungry signals to the dog, triggering increased hunger.
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency(EPI) decreases the enzymes required to digest food fully. This results in food passing through the gut without proper breakdown and absorption, increasing the dog's appetite.
Bacterial overgrowth is associated with EPI as it causes damage to the small intestines walls reducing nutrient absorption and increasing hunger.
Cushing's Disease in dogs can also result in ravenous appetite when the dog's body produces excessive glucocorticoid, a hormone that helps them deal with stress.
Tumours and intestinal cancer are also reasons for increased appetite in dogs and should be investigated.
Do dogs ever get full?
The act of wolfing down food as if it is the last is more of a learned behaviour than a personality for most dogs.
A rescue dog that may not have had access to food in the past may need to beg diligently for food and quickly eat it before it is taken away.
Even ideally, bred dogs can form a habit of faking hunger to get treats.
Overfeeding is dangerous for a dog's health, and a dog owner should ensure that they get high balanced quality proportioned food at all times.
As dogs age, they tend to eat more due to poor food absorption, inflammatory conditions (such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and medication side effects from over-the-counter and prescribed drugs.
Why is my dog always hungry? How do I deal with it?
Making sure that no one else is giving the dog treats in a household is an excellent first step to help the dog curb its insatiable behaviour.
Stop sharing food while eating to eliminate the dog's need to lark around in anticipation of treats and scraps.
Try using a slow-feeding bowl with pillars. The dog is forced to eat around then slowing their eating. Alternatively, you can place a tennis ball in their bowl.
Cutting back on treats and only giving the dog treats to reward good behaviour is recommended. Ensure that the treats are low in calories and fat, preferable whole ingredients.
Start feeding your dog the right amounts of food considering their weight, age, size, and physical activities, and be sure to seek a veterinary nutritionist's advice.
Feed your dog nutritious food for their growth, energy, and health. A transition to a raw diet is best as it is easier to digest.
Vegetables such as celery, green beans, cucumber, peas, cabbage, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower help bulk out dog's food, keeping them full for longer.
Keeping a dog healthy is as important as wanting to keep them happy.
Even after visiting a vet and necessary examining of your dog has been done but they still have the wolfing down food habit, it is right to assume it can be a reinforced habit of canine biology.
If the dog's overeating is sudden, it is good to determine the cause. It could be a lack of nutrients in the dog's diet or an underlying health condition.
Establish proper food management with specific feeding times and protocols. The dog will eventually train itself to get used to its feeding schedule with time.
Ensure to always look out for your dog's health!