Does your dog seem to have a bottomless stomach? Some of them will gobble down their entire meal and still follow you around the house begging for scraps and snacks, but are they actually hungry? If you are wondering why are dogs always hungry – the top reasons might surprise you.
If your dog is getting regular, well-portioned meals of high-quality dog food, and they still act like they are starving, there are a few different factors to consider. Let’s look at why they seem hungry all of the time and how to determine the correct portion size for your furry friend.
Related: What to Do About Food Aggression
Why Is My Dog Always Hungry?
There are many reasons that can explain why your dog might act like they are always hungry, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t getting enough food. If you’re feeding your dog correct portions of high-quality dog food each day and they still want more, it could be because of your routine with them, their biology, or an underlying health issue.
Force of Habit
According to experts, the domestication of dogs began when wolves developed the exceptional ability to manipulate us into giving them scraps of food. While our pets today have been domesticated for a long time now, they’ve learned some tricks of their own to get food and treats from us.
It’s not easy to deny your companion a snack when they give you “the look,” but when you give in, you’re reinforcing their behavior and teaching them that the hungrier they act, the better their chances are to get a taste of the good stuff.
In a sense, our dogs have trained us to feed them when they ask for food. This doesn’t mean that your dog is necessarily hungry; they may just want a bite of those tasty human snacks.
This study on portions and meal consumption in dogs found that some cases of overeating and obesity in domesticated dogs are related to the feeding practices of their owner. Many dogs have an “eat when food is available” mentality, which possibly stems from their wild ancestry, and they may be eating food simply because it’s offered and not because they are actually hungry.
The grey wolf is a domesticated dog’s closest wild relative and has a feast-or-famine type of diet. They eat large amounts when food is available because it could be days until their next meal. One reason that your dog always seems hungry might be this canine instinct.
Some dogs love food and will always eat when you present them with a snack or meal, but if your dog really is hungry all of the time, it could be due to an underlying health issue. There are a few common conditions that can cause your dog’s appetite to increase:
- Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s Disease)
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
- Intestinal cancer
- Bacterial overgrowth
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
If your dog is suddenly acting hungrier than usual, you should talk to your vet to ensure that their appetite isn’t the result of a serious health concern.
How Much Should My Dog Eat?
Feeding your dog the correct portion of food is crucial to their health and wellbeing; too little food can cause nutritional deficiencies, and too much can lead to obesity and the health issues that stem from it.
Some important factors in determining your dog’s correct meal size are:
- Metabolic rate
- The type of food
- Number of meals per day
- The amount of exercise
To find the appropriate amount that your dog should be eating, look at:
The Dog Food You Are Using
All dog foods are different and not created equal; the type of dog food you are feeding your furry friend plays a huge role in how much you should feed them. Different foods come with various caloric counts, protein and fat contents, etc. It’s a good idea to refer to the feeding instructions that come with the food to get a starting place for how much they should eat daily.
Typically, you should provide your dog with a meal two times per day and space them out by about 12 hours.
Your Dog’s Lifestyle
Your dog’s activity level also plays an important role in deciding how much food they need each day. Two dogs of the same breed and weight will have different feeding requirements based on how much exercise they get each day; more active dogs will generally require a larger diet than ones who like to lounge around most of the time.
You can use a calorie calculator for dogs to get a decent idea of their needs, but don’t expect to get an exact answer from this alone. Dogs are as unique as people, and a calculator can’t determine the precise amount of calories that your dog needs.
Your Dog’s Body Condition
Evaluating your dog’s body condition is an excellent way to fine-tune how much food you offer to them. Your vet can help you determine their body condition score and find the appropriate amount of calories for your dog specifically. Typical signs of dogs that have a healthy weight are:
- Their abdomen is narrower than their chest and hips. When looking at them from above, their figure looks like an hourglass.
- Their chest comes closer to the ground than their stomach when standing up.
- Their ribs should not be visible but easily felt with light pressure.
How Often Should I Monitor My Dog’s Weight?
Monitoring your dog’s weight often is the best way to keep track of how they are doing, and seeing if their portion sizes need adjusting. Check their weight every 2-4 weeks and keep a record of the results to determine if your dog is gaining or losing weight in an unhealthy manner.
If you see large fluctuations, their portions may need to get changed, but it’s good to discuss this with your vet to ensure there isn’t an underlying condition causing the weight or appetite changes.
How Do I Ensure My Dog Is Satisfied?
If your dog has always acted like they’re hungry all the time, and your vet has determined that they are being fed the correct amount and do not have any health concerns, it’s likely due to their canine biology or a force of habit.
If it happens suddenly, and your dog begins to overeat out of the blue, it’s time to determine the cause. They could not be getting the nutrients they need, or they may be beginning to develop a health problem and should be seen by your vet.
What’s one of the best things you can do for your dog’s health, appetite, and weight? Make sure their diet contains the nutrition they need!