My dog is always hungry
Written by Rebekah Thompson
Senior Customer Services Advisor (Nutrition), Skinner’s
For some dog owners, it is a fact of life that every morsel of food going into their mouth is carefully watched by the big, brown eyes of their canine companion. Sometimes this is accompanied by a little whine or nose nudge; a gentle reminder that should there be any going spare, they would be glad to take it off their hands. Some take it even further and skulk around their owner’s feet, looking for the opportunity to swiftly pounce on any unguarded food.
The big question is “Are dogs really as hungry as they would lead us to believe?” and what, if anything, can we do to help them feel full? Have a read of our tips to help work out if your dog is genuinely hungry…
Are you feeding your dog the correct amount?
Firstly, check to see if you are feeding the correct daily ration for their body condition, and use scales rather than a cup so they can’t be over or underfed. Their body condition score rather than their appetite should be your guide, as it’s really important to keep them at the correct weight.
You can use our feeding guide to work out how much you should be giving them.
What are the health risks associated with dog obesity?
Health problems associated with obesity include breathing difficulties (especially for brachycephalic breeds), heart disease, diabetes, skin problems and a whole host of issues which can lead to a reduced life span.
Are there risks with a dog being underweight?
Being underweight is not healthy either, it could cause a weakened immune system, lower organ function and muscle loss.
If you are unsure how to body condition score your dog, the PFMA (Pet Food Manufacturers Association) have a guide on their website to help you with this: https://www.pfma.org.uk/dog-pet-size-o-meter.
If at any point you are concerned that they are the incorrect weight for their individual height and age, then it is recommended that you consult your vet who will be able to perform a physical examination and advise you accordingly.
What could be causing your dog to feel hungry?
When considering driving factors for their appetite, physiological issues could be playing a part.
Scientists at Cambridge University found a variant of a gene could have a direct impact on a dog’s appetite and weight gain which was most prevalent in Labradors and Flat Coat Retrievers.
Other causes of increased hunger could be a thyroid issue or steroid medication and any concerns should be discussed with your vet.
How to work out when your dog has had enough food
Just like humans, they should not eat until they can’t eat any more and a healthy dog should finish their meal sniffing round the bowl for any dropped pieces.
To help them feel fuller for longer, you can try slowing their eating down by using slow feeders or even a muffin tin.
Another method to consider is scatter feeding where the food can be scattered through the grass in your garden or on the floor around your house for them to sniff and hunt out. This engages their natural behaviour of ‘sniffing out’ their food and has the added advantage of mental stimulation as well as encouraging slower eating.
Feeding between meals
Between meals you can offer low calorie treats such as watermelon, carrot and courgette.
Remember that treats should not be more than 10% of their daily ration and should be carefully measured to ensure you are not overfeeding.
In short, some dogs are always going to have an eye open for food, even if they have just finished their meal. Contrary to what they would have you believe; they are not being starved and every effort should be made to maintain a healthy body condition.
Need some advice about your dog’s diet?
If you have any questions about their diet, simply contact our nutrition team, who will be more than happy to help.
Alternatively, try our FREE online feeding guide for a personalised recommendation.