Do dogs ever get full? Does your dog act like they are hungry 24 hours a day? Does your pooch hang around the dinner table waiting for scraps even though you’ve just fed them a whole bowl of delicious dog food? Well, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why your dog may appear hungry all the time and what you can do to stop them. You may even learn to teach your dog not to ‘beg’ along the way. Excellent!
A dog’s basic biology
First of all, let’s consider it is normal behaviour. Dogs haven’t always been domesticated and are descendants of the Wolf. Despite that being a seriously long time ago (thousands of years) it is still not beyond the realms of possibility that they have retained a lot of their biology – such as the “feast or famine” mentality towards food. Wild wolves and dogs didn’t know when their next meal would come so when food is presented to them they will feast on it. The phrase “Hungry like a wolf” comes to mind here. Indeed, feast or famine is a common sight in most wild animal behaviour.
Your dog may not actually be hungry and simply loading up on food in preparation of a famine which may never come. Dog’s are clever but not clever enough to know that their owners will always be there to feed them.
With this in mind, a great way to combat this problem and help your dog not be so hungry is to stick to regular meal times. Measure your food out to suit the particular breed and age of your dog and then let your dog eat at the same times every day. This is a great way to keep hunger at bay and also teach them some patience. Eating at regular times is also a common method for humans to be able to control hunger. Of course, how nutritious the food is also plays a part but we’ll deal with that later.
It just tastes great
Dog food has evolved over time as have dog treats to be nutritious and super tasty. If you also feed them some human food such as dinner time scraps or fruit/veg then your dog may have had a taste of the finer things in life. If you enjoy something why wouldn’t you want more of it? However, a downfall of many things that taste great are the ingredients that make them so. If your choice of dog food, dog treats or scraps contain a lot of carbohydrates, especially sugar, then they may be getting hungrier quicker and more often as the body craves for more just like us humans would.
If you feed your dog tasty rubbish then consider that the reason why your dog is always hungry. I always find that when I have a meal that isn’t considered healthy such as McDonald’s then I am hungry again after an hour, but if I eat a meal rich in nutrients then I can feel full for hours.
Lack of nutrition
Hunger is a sign that the body needs something, whether that nutrients, minerals, hydration or simply energy. If you’re dog is always hungry and never acts like they’re full maybe it’s because their diet is missing something crucial. Common nutrients missing from low quality foods are vitamins, minerals, protein, fat and fibre.
Have a look at the nutritional information on the back of what you feed your pooch. Does it have everything they need? If not, it may be time to shop around for a better solution. We have a few articles recommending some great wet food, superb dog treats and food with plenty of roughage. Why not take a look and give some a try?
They are actually hungry
Is it possible that your dog is never because they just aren’t? Are you feeding them enough according to their calorie requirements? Some dogs need more food than others, especially larger breeds, musclier breeds and of course working dogs. Many of these examples should be on a specialist diet particularly if you have a working dog who is burning energy throughout the day.
Not sure how much food your dog should actually be eating? Our best advice is to visit your vet who will do a health check and weigh your dog before giving advice on portion sizes and possibly recommendations on what exactly you should be feeding them. Sometimes the answer to ‘Why is my dog always hungry” could be more obvious than you think.
They’ve been trained to act hungry
Do you find yourself giving in too easily to puppy dog eyes and then throwing them scraps from the table or chucking them a treat if they beg enough? If your dog knows that when they act hungry (even if they’re not) they will get some food then you can expect them to keep doing it again and again until you stop. This can lead to overfeeding and ultimately a few health problems.
There’s an easy way to stop this behaviour. Stop giving them treats without making them work for it. Feed your dog at regular intervals (as mentioned above) and any extras can only come from a training session or when they’ve been a good boy/girl.
We’ve left this one till last as it’s a bit of a miserable reason. If your dog is always hungry and there may be other symptoms on top such as uncharacteristic behaviour, weight loss or other visible symptoms such as skin rashes then your dog may never seem to be full because they have medical concerns. Some known medical causes for constant appetite may be:
Yes, dogs can get diabetes too and it poses the same effects as the human version. If your dog has diabetes then they may think they’re always hungry when they’re not.
Cushing’s disease causes the body to produce too much glucocorticoid which leads to an increased appetite.
Malabsorption is a condition where the body is unable to process the nutrients in food properly leaving them to think they just haven’t had enough…because they really haven’t. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is another similar condition where there are not enough enzymes to break down the food and therefore the nutrients.
Some worms can hijack your dog’s digestive system and take their nutrients away from them, although usually worms has the opposite effect where it robs them of their appetite it is still possible that they can cause pooches to always have the munchies.
If your dog’s eating habits have changed drastically and it’s out of the ordinary for them to appear never full or always hungry then we would recommend taking them to see a vet to checked out.
Tips on keeping your dog full
With all of the above in mind, here are some handy tips to combat a hungry hound and keep their bellies full:
- Feed them nutritious meals at regular times
- Always have water available
- Never feed them scraps off the table and promoting bad habits
- Take them to the vet if their hunger is sudden and out of the ordinary
We hope that we have helped you find an answer to the question if dogs are always full and why they are always (or seem to be) hungry. Have you ever had a ravenous pup and found a great solution? Let everyone know in the comments below!
Ronnie is the JugDog site editor and a dog expert who has lived and worked with dogs his entire life. Living in St. Helens, UK with his wife son and Jug Dog Jeff Ronnie spends most of time researching the answers to the burning questions of the dog community as well as reviewing the latest and greatest dog products.