Getting to the Bottom of Your Dog’s Insatiable Hunger

Many dog owners find themselves in a predicament with their four-legged friends. They often display behavior that says they’re hungry, but they’re also beginning to ride the edges of a healthy weight range for their breed and size. What is causing that insatiable hunger, and are they really starving? Many things could be contributing to your dog’s extra dinner demands.

Biology

While looking for weight loss dog food, you may come across a potential biological explanation. Some dog experts wonder whether our modern-day dogs’ biology could play a role in their appetite and even their desire to scavenge and hide food.

Their nearest wild relative is the gray wolf, which adapted over time to a ‘feast or famine’ diet. When fresh prey wasn’t consistently available, they would eat large amounts to ensure they could make it through to their next meal. Some dogs may not realize that food will be readily available from their human friend and may seek it out as a ‘just in case’ measure.

Background

Rescue dogs sometimes have heart-breaking life stories they can only share through their behavior. Before coming to you, they may not have received food every day or regularly. This may encourage scavenging, hiding, and gorging behavior, as seen with their wolf relatives. There is a lot we don’t understand about dogs, but what we do know is that it can take patience and training to help your dog learn there will always be food in their bowl.

Learned Behavior

In some cases, pet owners are to blame. In an attempt to earn our dog’s love, or by giving in to their sad, doe-eyed expressions, they train us to give them treats. Each time they receive a treat or tidbit for begging-like behavior, they learn what it takes to be fed. This behavior can then become more frequent.

Diet

Feelings of constant hunger in your dog may not be an act. They really could be feeling hungry due to a lack of appropriate nutrients. Too much fiber in a dog’s diet can replace protein and lead them to seek out amino acids. It can also block the absorption of nutrients, which causes feelings of hunger. Seek out a nutritionally balanced diet with plenty of protein and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Medical Conditions

Excessive hunger that’s seemingly out of character for your canine could signal a medical condition. Type 2 diabetes is common among mid-age to senior dogs. Poor nutrition and a lack of physical activity may lead to this diagnosis. Excessive hunger may also be caused by hyperthyroidism. While it’s more common in older cats, it can be caused by thyroid tumors in dogs, leading to an overproduction of the thyroid hormone. With glands working overtime, some dogs end up with increased metabolic activity. They may be constantly hungry, but also losing weight.

However, if you notice loose stools and a poor coat along with increased hunger and weight loss, ask your vet about exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI). In a dog without EPI, the pancreas releases digestive enzymes to break down food particles. Dogs with EPI may not have enough digestive enzymes to break down fats, starches, and proteins. Therefore, nutrients may end up in their stool rather than their body tissues as nourishment.

A dog’s insatiable hunger can have many causes. A medical condition might be to blame, or it could be learned behavior, biology, or their diet. Focus on each potential cause to see if you can draw a conclusion about your own four-legged friend.

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