Why Is My Dog Always Hungry?
by Jessi Larson
Some dogs seem to be naturally insatiable and will eat just about anything in sight. If you’ve ever asked yourself why is my dog always hungry, you likely have a four-legged friend with a voracious appetite.
This isn’t the case with all dogs. Some will only eat the right amount and walk away contentedly.
On the other hand, certain pups take gluttony to a new level.
If you’re wondering, “Why is my dog always hungry?” let’s go over some possibilities and things you can do to curb this behavior.
Evaluate Your Dog’s Eating Habits
The fact is, the answer to “why is my dog always hungry?” is not as clear-cut as we would like.
Unfortunately, it can be hard to pinpoint why some dogs seem to never get full, despite having adequate nutrition.
If you’re curious about your dog’s constantly high appetite, it helps to pay special attention to their eating habits.
Has your dog recently started to eat more than usual? Is that behavior in connection to any changes that have happened within the household?
Some dogs will eat more as a result of stress, either from a new addition to a household that they may perceive as a threat or when member of the household is no longer there.
Either of these situations can put your dog in a “fight or flight” mode, which may be the reason behind the big appetite.
The reasons behind your dog’s increased eating can be many and complex, so in certain cases you may just have to resort to controlling your pup’s diet when they may not be able to.
Possible Reasons for Non-Stop Eating
Here are some specific reasons why your dog may be overeating. Some of these reasons may be more serious than others, but all cases of excessive eating should be addressed to prevent health problems and obesity.
Find out what to look for and what you can do to help your four-legged friend through their eating issues.
Your Dog Is Simply Predisposed to Overeating
While this isn’t a satisfying answer, some dogs are just naturally hungrier than others.
This may be a residual instinct from the wild, when it was evolutionarily beneficial to eat whatever food was available due to its possible scarcity in the future.
Now, you may be thinking, “OK, but my dog is far from the wilderness and has no scarcity of food.” That’s technically true, but the strong instinct may still be overtaking your dog’s ability to contain themself.
Our dog Toby would eat everything in sight if we let him. His love of food continues to astound us. Just the other day, for example, we opened up a stick of butter and he instantly came running downstairs to check it out. His nose is that good and his appetite is that big!
The best explanation for this: Toby is a Labrador Retriever. The breed boasts a hearty appetite.
It may also be the case that your dog has learned that it can always get treats and food with the right amount of begging.
Some dogs even go after certain members of the family who they know are most likely to give into their demands.
In cases like this, you just have to assume your position as the pack leader and take full control of your dog’s eating habits.
You may feel as though you’re making them happy by giving into the endless hunger, but you’re essentially contributing to future health problems and supporting the problem.
You should limit treats and reinforce a “no human food” rule in your household. Do not succumb to guilt and remember that it’s your place and duty as your dog’s owner to lay down some necessary limits. Your dog will be much happier and healthier because of them.
When in doubt, consult with your vet to determine the right dietary plan and then make sure you stick to it. It may be difficult to withstand those longing stares and pleas for food from your dog, but you have to exercise control and restraint where they cannot.
When Excessive Eating Can Signal a Problem
Although excessive eating is never a good thing, there are certain cases when the increase in appetite may be a sign of an underlying health problem.
Here are some possible issues that may be causing your dog to eat constantly. If you suspect any of these to be the case, it’s extremely important to seek veterinary evaluation and care for your dog.
Just like humans, dogs can develop Type I or Type II diabetes, both of which lead to an excessive amount of glucose in your dog’s blood. One of the most common signs of diabetes in dogs is increased appetite and thirst.
In certain cases increased appetite can be a sign of gastrointestinal tumors due to certain types of stomach cancer. These cancers can cause an increase in appetite due to your dog’s inability to absorb the nutrients in the food.
Old age may also cause your dog’s body to lose its ability to properly digest food. Aging dogs may also undergo changes in appetite due to an underlying health issue.
Other Gastrointestinal Issues
Your dog’s constant hunger may be attributed to certain types of stomach issues such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), which can hinder your pet’s ability to absorb nutrients from their food.
Certain breeds are particularly prone to developing IBD, including French bulldogs, Irish setters, Basenjis and Lundehunds.
If your dog’s thyroid is overproducing a hormone called thyroxine, this can lead to a condition called hyperthyroidism. This can cause increased hunger and metabolism in your dog.
However, this condition is actually quite rare in dogs and occurs more commonly in older cats.
This dangerous condition is caused by an overproduction of cortisol in your dog’s body, which can lead to a disruption to your dog’s blood sugar levels and result in excessive hunger.
Final Thoughts: Why Is My Dog Always Hungry?
We hope we’ve helped answer your question of, “Why is my dog always hungry?”
It seems certain dogs are naturally food-obsessed, while others exhibit excessive eating due to an underlying condition. In either case, it’s very important to get your dog’s excessive eating under control and get to the bottom of its cause.
If you have questions about your dog’s nutritional needs or suspect a health issue may be at play, contact your veterinarian for further evaluation.
How to Find the Right Veterinarian to Care for Your Dog
As you can see above, it’s important that you have a veterinarian you know and trust.
When you have a trusted vet who knows your dog’s overall health and history, it’s much easier to figure out what’s causing their current ailment.
In this case, you could quickly schedule an appointment or even email or call with the question of why is my dog always hungry.
To find that dependable doctor, follow these steps.
1. Look Locally
First things first: Find a vet that is near you. If heaven forbid something happens to your dog and it’s even remotely urgent, you’ll want to be able to get to the clinic in a short period of time.
This is also important if you have to take time off work for vet appointments. It’s tough enough to get away from work but even tougher when you factor in extra drive time.
For the most part, vet visits are usually planned. You know when your dog’s due for an exam or need vaccinations.
But as we’ve learned throughout the years, things come up. Your dog ate something funky and doesn’t seem like himself. You spot a weird growth and can’t stop worrying. Your dog has a cut on his face that needs a few stitches.
Or in this case, you need to know why is my dog always hungry.
If your vet is closer, that makes things much easier.
2. Read Online Reviews
This is probably an obvious statement, but reading online reviews is incredibly important as a consumer.
And now there are more sites than ever with reviews – Google, Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List, etc.
Search around and see what people are saying about each clinic you’re looking at.
3. Ask for Recommendations
Another useful tip is to ask around. Where do your neighbors take their dogs? How about friends, family and co-workers in the area?
If your dog is taking training lessons or going to doggy daycare, get the opinion of people at these organizations, too.
This is a great method because you’ll get honest, qualitative feedback that can help make your decision.
4. Do a Test Run
Once you find a vet clinic that seems like a good fit, make an appointment for your dog to be seen.
In this initial appointment, the vet will conduct an assessment of your dog’s health. But really, you’ll also be working on an assessment of your own.
Things to consider as you figure out if this is the right place for you and your dog:
- Facilities – The first thing is to take inventory of the clinic. Is it clean and comfortable?
- Veterinarian – Most importantly, what do you think of the vet? Did they explain things clearly? How was their bedside manner? How did your dog respond to them?
- Support staff – It’s not just the vet you have to consider. You’ll actually be spending just as much time with the support staff, which includes the vet technicians, front office team members and so forth.
- Service – How was the level of service? Is the staff pleasant? Was it easy to make an appointment? How is the communication?
5. Trust Your Gut
As always, trust your gut reaction. It’s more important than people realize.
If you had a good first impression of the clinic and the team and your dog responded well, by all means proceed.
If something felt off and the experience wasn’t what you had hoped for, don’t be afraid to look for other options.
Bonus Tip: Find an Emergency Pet Hospital
While you’re looking for a standard vet clinic, it’s smart to also identify emergency pet hospitals in the area.
This is a place to go if your dog needs care urgently and you can’t wait for the next available appointment at your regular vet.
If your dog has a serious issue come up outside of the normal office hours or on the weekend – and it will happen – this is the place to go.