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Help! My Senior Dog has an Increased Appetite

Beagle eating from a green dog bowl in a kitchen

Proper diet and nutrition are crucial for their health and fitness when dogs grow old. Most pet owners have a decent understanding of their pet’s dietary habits by the time they reach senior citizen status. Some canines start eating more food in their old age, which can be detrimental to their health. Read on to know why your senior dog has an increased appetite and what you can do about it.

Why is My Senior Dog Hungry All the Time?

If your canine partner is constantly hungry, the situation might be concerning. It can frequently lead to negative behavior on your dog’s side (such as begging). You should take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible to get him back to his usual level of health. There are several reasons for a senior dog’s increased appetite and some of them are as follows.

Too Much Exercise

Beagle jumping hurdles

This is one of the leading reasons why your senior dog is hungry all the time. Although exercise is good for mental and physical health, the energy levels of your pup must be considered. Older canines don’t have the same zeal and their exercise routine needs to be updated. Otherwise, your dog will need more food than usual.

Increased Metabolic Rate

Several gastrointestinal problems can also cause increased appetite in senior dogs. They increase the metabolism of your pooch and he/she will feel hungry all the time. For example, an increased rate of gastric emptying can lead to increased appetite.

Unbalanced Diet

Yellow lab getting treats

Lack of nutrients can keep your older pup hungry even after eating their food. The dietary needs of senior dogs are different from young pups and you must have balanced meal plan for them. A senior dog lacks essential nutrients and therefore demands a nutritious diet. Consult your vet and discuss the specific dietary requirements to come up with a suitable diet for your old friend.


Diabetes is very common in senior dogs and can be responsible for their increased diet. It affects the body’s capacity to generate or respond to insulin. This increases the level of sugars in the blood and will result in frequent urination. The extra glucose in the body can’t be absorbed and is excreted out. Hence, your dog will experience increased appetite because the needs of the body are not fulfilled.

Cushing’s Disease

Golden retriever sitting in grass

The overproduction of the hormone cortisol causes Cushing’s Disease in dogs. It is one of the most prevalent endocrine abnormalities in dogs and is also known as hyperadrenocorticism. Cushing’s disease can cause an increase in hunger due to an excess of glucocorticoid, a hormone that helps canines cope with stress.

Symptoms of Increased Appetite in Older Dogs

Golden retriever sitting on a leaf covered path

It’s easier to figure out what’s causing your dog’s increased hunger if you act quickly. The degree of polyphagia consequences varies. The symptoms listed below may signal that your dog needs to see a veterinarian right away. Increased appetite is itself a symptom of an underlying disease but some other signs can also indicate the problem.

  • Unexpected weight gain or loss
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating in the stomach
  • Depression
  • Pacing
  • Lethargy
  • Panting
  • Trembling

What to Do if My Senior Dog has an Increased Appetite?

Yellow lab with a stainless steel food bowl in its mouth

Several home remedies and management techniques are effective to manage the increased appetite of senior dogs. You will also need ongoing communication with the veterinarian to ensure everything’s in order. Your dog may also need return visits to the clinic so that the reason for polyphagia can be determined. Working with a veterinary professional is always the better option for your dog’s comfort and well-being.

Reduce the Treats

Two bone shaped dog treats, isolated on a white background.

Cutting less on food for a hungry dog may seem illogical. However, if your dog has grown accustomed to receiving regular goodies, she must train them again. If you’re using treats as a reward, consider replacing play, snuggles, or other forms of positive attention for your dog.

Alternatively, you can use fresh whole foods as treats because they are low in fat and calories. After all, calories do matter in a dog’s diet, just as they do in yours.

Provide the Appropriate Amount of Food

Kibble in a bowl on hardwood floors

It doesn’t imply your dog should eat just because he can. Consult your veterinarian about your dog’s needs, and go at the nutrition information on your dog food to figure out how much food your dog requires based on his size and age. Always feed quantities based on your dog’s optimum weight rather than his actual weight (if overweight) or what he wants to be.

Meet the Needs of Senior Dogs

Black dog with a gray face

It is a common fallacy that elderly dogs require the same quantity of food as younger dogs, only in a “lite” or reduced-calorie form. In actuality, dogs’ metabolism slows as they become older. Their systems become less efficient at digesting particular meals at the same time.

Many senior formulas include fillers to thicken up food. These fillers are difficult to digest and will pass through the dog’s system undigested. This will urge your pooch to consume more while requiring their systems to work harder. When dog food is easily digested, senior dogs can acquire the nutrition they demand by eating a little less and absorbing more nutrients.

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