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How to Deal with a Dog That's Always Hungry

by Karen Armitage

Certain dogs can seem like they’re always hungry, despite the fact that their owners feed them regularly. More often than not, a super hungry dog will always end up getting more than their fair share because owners can’t resist those big puppy eyes. We’ve been there! Unfortunately, this can lead to problems with weight gain and obesity, which can cause even more issues for your pet. With obesity in pets quickly becoming a national crisis, it’s important for owners to understand how to deal with a constantly hungry pooch.

If I’m Feeding the Recommended Amount, Why is my Dog Always Hungry?

This is a question we are often asked as nutritional advisers for Burns Pet Nutrition. Unfortunately, many of our dogs (and cats) have no ‘off’ button when it comes to food, which means they don’t usually stop eating when they are full. Instead, it’s up to us as responsible pet parents to control the amount of food they consume. Looking for more food isn’t an indication they need any more. Most of our pets are just plain greedy! Haven’t we all been there?

So, What Causes Excessive Hunger in Pets?

We do know that certain breeds are predisposed to being greedy. Indeed, studies show that Labradors, for example, have a ‘fat gene,’ which is evidence that they are hard wired to eat.

In fact, my own two Labs once got into a 15kg bag of food and managed to eat nearly half the bag before they decided they’d probably had enough! Although any breed of dog can be a foodie, the specific breeds renowned for their greed include:

• Cocker Spaniels
• Beagles
• Pugs
• Dachshunds
• Basset Hounds

Dogs in multi dog households will often seem more greedy, and will eat as much as they can in the shortest possible time so they don’t have to share. After which, they’ll paw on over to other bowls to make sure their other canine family members haven’t left any.

How Do I Know When I’m Feeding My Pet Enough?

A great starting point is to look at the feeding guidelines, which usually come on the back of a pack of pet food. These are a general guide and every dog is different, so it would still need to be tailored to their individual requirements. If you have a hungry dog, remember that this amount will often be less than they would like!

It is very rare that we come across a pet parent that doesn’t feed enough food, and if you’re keeping to the recommendation on the pack, you won’t be far off the correct amount. In most cases, an underfed dog would noticeably be too lean. A healthy dog should finish their food and even be looking for a little more. If you feed your dog and some is left in the bowl after they’re done, then you are offering too much food. Remember, they don’t self-regulate and will have eaten too much.

How Can You Tell if Your Dog Is Too Skinny?

Ideally, your dog’s ribs should be easily felt with a little flesh over. It’s even okay to see the outline of the last 2-3 ribs when your pup is playing. If you’re finding it hard to recognise whether or not your dog is too skinny or just right, you’re not alone. There are currently so many overweight dogs in the world that it has now become the norm, making it hard to recognise a healthy dog when we see one. It’s surprising how many owners think their dog is too lean, when in fact, they have an ideal body condition. It never fails to surprise me that we all strive to be slim as humans, with a neat little waistline, but it is becoming more and more undesirable on our pets.

How Can I Help My Super Hungry Dog?

We always recommend fibre for super hungry dogs. Mainly because feeding a high fibre diet will help make your dog feel fuller for longer. These diets, such as the Burns Weight Control range, contain high fibre ingredients like oats, which will help keep your dog feeling full and release energy more slowly. Similar diets are not just for a dog that’s overweight, but can be fed as an adult maintenance diet for extra hungry pooches.

If you want to avoid changing your dog’s diet, there are also other foods you could offer to an extra hungry hound. Vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and leafy greens are amazing for hungry dogs because it bulks out their food and helps them feel full. Even porridge oats cooked in water can be offered to a super hungry dog. Here are some other bulking ingredients:

• Celery
• Cucumber
• Green Beans
• Peas
• Cabbage

How Many Treats is Too Many?

For greedy dogs, treats should be kept to a minimum, mainly because some of them contain a lot of calories. Ideally, any treat you give should be weighed in with their daily rations and shouldn’t equate to more than 10% of their daily allowance. Remember, some treats can be replaced with the veggies we mentioned above.

What Other Ways Can I Help My Hungry Dog?

Slowing them down with enrichment feeding can help combat overeating. If you have no feeding toys or puzzle feeders, hide the food or just scatter feed. This will have the added benefit of preventing boredom and getting them to use their brains, which also uses a lot of energy.

Key Takeaway:

• We don’t have to show our love to our furry companions by giving into the demands for food just because those big brown eyes are begging for more.

• We can help by feeding a suitable diet for their individual needs, i.e. a higher fibre, highly digestible diet which will help to keep them feeling fuller.

• Playing games and learning new activities will also help to prevent boredom. A bored dog may well turn to food for stimulation.

Read more about feeding your dog the correct amount with our handy feeding guide. Alternatively, contact the Burns Nutritional Advice Team via live chat or by calling free on 0800 083 66 96

by Karen Armitage
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