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Help! My Senior Dog is Always Hungry

Long Haired Chihuahua eating dogfood that spilled from a dog bowl onto a floor

Polyphagia is a condition in which a dog’s food consumption grows so much that it seems hungry all the time. If your senior dog diet is planned around well-portioned meals but your pup still appears hungry, something’s wrong. Read on to find out why your senior dog is always hungry and how you can solve this problem.

Why is My Senior Dog Always Hungry?

Does your dog appear to have an insatiable appetite? Some canines keep following you around the house (right after finishing their meal) in hope of getting crumbs and snacks. It doesn’t always imply that they aren’t receiving enough food. Several other reasons could also be responsible for this behavior. Let’s discuss some of the most common causes.

Habitual Causes

Black, tan, and white dog recieving a treat from an outstretched hand.

Experts believe that wolves gained the unique ability to trick humans into giving them scraps of food. Dogs have also developed this feature over the years to obtain food and treats from their owners. This is why it becomes difficult for some owners to ignore their pup when he/she gives you “the look”. However, falling in this trap will encourage your dog to make it a habit as it increases their odds of getting more food.

In a way, our dogs have taught us to give them food when they beg for it. That does not necessarily imply that your dog is hungry; they may want a taste of those yummy human treats.

Health Issues

German Shepherd wrapped in a shaggy blue blanket against a white background.

Some dogs adore eating and will always eat when given a snack or meal, but if your dog is constantly hungry, it might be a sign of an underlying health problem. Several frequent diseases might cause your dog’s appetite to become excessive. If your dog is suddenly behaving hungrier than usual, consult your veterinarian to make sure it isn’t a sign of a significant health problem.

Poor Feeding Practices

Golden retriever watching owner cutting chicken on a cutting board

According to this study on dog portions and meal intake, certain occurrences of overeating and obesity in domesticated dogs relate to their owners’ feeding habits. Many dogs, probably due to their wild origin, have a “eat when food is available” mindset, and they may take food merely because they get rather than because they are hungry.

The grey wolf is the closest wild relative of a domesticated dog and has a feast-or-famine diet. They eat a lot while food is available since their next meal might be days away. This canine instinct might be one of the reasons why your dog always feels hungry.

What to Do if My Senior Dog is Always Hungry?

Yellow labrador eating from a silver dog food bowl

If your dog eats all you give them and still wants more (specifically if your dog is overweight), you’ll need to address the issue. Ask your veterinarian about their food requirements, and keep to a regular feeding pattern and timetable. My Perfect Pet mentions that you must also ensure that no one in the family is feeding them table scraps or freebies. The following are some basic methods to fix the problem of senior dog diet.

Minimize the Treats

Bone shaped dog treats in a white food bowl with a black pawprint on the side on a blue table.

While cutting back on rewards for hungry dogs may seem paradoxical, if your dog has learned to anticipate goodies regularly, it’s a behavior that has to be unlearned. If you give your dog treats as a reward, consider replacing more playtime or other positive attention as you gradually reduce the number of goodies you give them.

That doesn’t mean you can’t give your dog a treat now and again, but only low-calorie, low-fat snacks produced with fresh, whole ingredients are necessary. Calories are as vital in a dog’s diet as they are in ours.

Monitor Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs

Yellow lab standing next to a dog feeding stand

Many dog owners believe a popular myth: elderly dogs require the same quantity of food as younger dogs but with fewer calories. Dogs’ metabolisms slow down as they become older, making them less efficient at processing certain meals.

Fillers are included in many senior formulations to bulk out the food. Those fillers might be uncomfortable for your senior dog to digest. The meals then pass through their system undigested, allowing them to eat more and their digestive systems to work harder. Older dogs can acquire the nutrition they need by eating somewhat less but still absorbing all of the nutrients they require with the correct diet.

Feed the Right Portion

Full dog food bowl being handed down to a Jack Russell Terrier

Even though your dog is happy to eat numerous helpings of food, that does not imply they should. It’s important to discuss your dog’s nutritional needs with your veterinarian. Check the nutritional information on their food to determine the proper quantities for their size, age, and activity level.

Rather than feeding your dog based on its weight, most veterinarians advocate feeding them based on optimal weight. If your dog is severely underweight or overweight, however, it’s critical to gradually raise or reduce portion sizes with the aid of your veterinarian; don’t make dramatic changes to their meal amounts.

Provide Proper Nutrition

2 dog paws with a bowl in between them with variety of food against a white background.

Senior dogs aren’t the only ones that require proper nourishment. For its health, development, and vitality, every dog needs a variety of high-quality nutrients. A highly-processed dog diet uses high heat that destroys nutrients and introduces synthetic additives that are more difficult for your pet to digest. Lightly-cooked food made with fresh ingredients is more nutritious and simpler to digest for your dog.

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