As much as we may love our dogs, we might also wonder about some of their stranger habits and mannerisms. Among the most commonly questioned of these behaviors is that of “acting hungry,” which tends to happen even after our pooches have been fed particularly big meals.

Almost everyone with a dog has experienced this situation: you’ve just fed Bowser and turn around to find him panting and staring at you while you fix your own dinner.

He looks like he could eat you out of house and home – and he probably would if given the opportunity!

Why does this happen? Why do dogs act hungry all the time?  Here’s 5 of the biggest reasons below:

1.  Normal Behavior

While there may be some underlying eating disorder as to why your dog acts hungry all the time, there’s also the possibility that this is “normal” behavior. Some veterinarians and pet experts believe that pups were first domesticated because of their almost supernatural ability to mooch food from human beings.

Those big brown eyes and that beautiful face may all add up to an extra scrap or two from the table from time to time, so this theory does seem to hold some water.

Sure, some dogs act hungry all the time because they know it works. Given that food can seem like a limited resource to our four-legged friends, they may be simply doing what comes naturally to grab that extra morsel.

2. Nutritional Deficiency & The Wrong Diet!

  • First, make sure your feeding your dog enough. 🙂 Don’t simply throw a scoop or two of kibble in his bowl without knowing how much he or she should be eating daily.  A gargantuan appetite may also be the result of nutritional issues and diseases.
  • If your dog isn’t getting enough vitamins and minerals, he may look to compensate by getting as much food as possible.  NuVet Plus Vitamin Supplement TabletsI also recommend including a good vitamin/mineral supplement for your dog, no matter how good the food is that you’re feeding.  Certain breeds are more susceptible to specific health issues such as auto immune problems. Like people, every dog is different. Their genetic DNA is individual to the dog.  Despite that the breed and the resemblance on the exterior,   no dog’s DNA is the same.  So, think of a good multivitamin as an added buffer. This buffer will help your dog by providing the right vitamins and  minerals necessary when he or she’s not a 100% or as the dog gets up in years.  Minerals are vital not only for bone health, but for the heart, muscles and nervous system.
  • Nutrition for dogs  is a loaded topic and I assure you that if you’re feeding your dog the same food day in and day out (especially kibble); yes, he or she’s hungry.  Your dog needs the right food to thrive. Not a food that’s convenient for you the owner, the right food for him to flourish. A diet whether homemade or raw, that consists of mostly meat, some veggies and other protein sources such as fish and egg, will most likely satisfy your dog’s excessive hunger (providing there’s no underlying health issues such as the ones mentioned below).

3. Diabetes

Another potential issue behind why dogs act hungry all the time is diabetes. The real problem here is that dogs with healthy, balanced diets can even suffer from diabetes.

This condition means that the dog can’t use carbohydrates properly, either because the pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin or because the cells aren’t processing the insulin appropriately. Either way, the sugars that would normally feed the body’s cells are unable to get where they need to go. This leaves them in the bloodstream and the body, as a result, starves.

Because the body is starving from not using nutrients properly, some dogs may overeat considerably. They’ll likely even lose weight while overeating because the food isn’t being used correctly as energy.

Hunger, as a result, is never satisfied and dogs will obviously be hungry all the time.

4. Parasites

Intestinal parasites are among the most common reasons dogs go to the vet. There are over a dozen different parasites that can cause some serious problems for your pooch, from heartworm to roundworm to even hookworm.

dog parasitesRoundworm in particular is found in the digestive tract. The infection is spread by small rodents, but it can also come from polluted food or water.

Changes in your four-legged friend’s appetite are common with cases of roundworm, while diarrhea and stomach pains generally also appear. Dogs with roundworm can generally be treated with medication, but detection is vital.

Hookworm is another problem. These parasites clasp on to the intestines and feed on the dog’s blood, leading to anemia. Once again, a dog’s appetite comes into play and symptoms are normally the same as with other parasites.

A tapeworm feeds on the blood and on vital nutrients from the dog’s body. This can lead to blockages and serious digestive issues, which results in increased appetite and bloating.  Typically spread by fleas, the tapeworm has both sexual organs and can subsequently reproduce in the dog’s body.

5. Hypothyroidism

Yet another problem that can lead to an increased appetite in dogs is hypothyroidism.This is a disorder where the thyroid glands are underactive and consequently don’t discharge enough hormones.

This slows the dog’s metabolism because the thyroid gland regulates it.  My doberman Jenna was diagnosed as hypothyroid.  The unfortunate thing about this illness is that most traditional veterinarians will not recognize that the dog is hypothyroid and the dog will go through life undiagnosed and untreated and the owner is left in a constant state of confusion as to what’s wrong with the dog.

I urge you to not solely rely on a traditional veterinarian when checking for thyroid issues.  Be very proactive! Find a good holistic vet and explain your concerns.  Unfortunately traditional vets are not properly educated on reading the blood work panels for thyroid problems.  They say the dog’s range is normal when in actuality, it’s not.  A good holistic vet can correctly read the panel and diagnose the dog when the problem exists.   

There are a couple of ways for a pooch to end up with hypothyroidism, with genetic predisposition, pollution and allergies all making the list. Medications like steroids can bring on the condition, as can a lack of exercise. In the case of the latter, the thyroid hormone thyroxine isn’t produced enough and things like oxygen consumption, infection resistance and growth suffer as a result.

Symptoms include depression, energy deficiency, low tolerance for cold weather, chronic infections, and even weight gain. This disorder is more common in medium to large dogs, with some breeds like Irish setters, Dobermans and Greyhounds genetically predisposed to it.

Better Safe Than Sorry

As you can see, there are a number of reasons your dog may act hungry all the time. In most cases, there’s nothing to worry about. But if you’re seeing other symptoms associated with a feverish appetite, get your pooch checked out by a veterinarian.

The panting and the loving gaze while you’re in the kitchen may be innocent enough, but it could also be a sign of something more dangerous.

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Showing 13 comments
  • John T Elliott
    Reply

    He has diabetes and the veterinarian has us inject insulin bi-daily. After at good while he got irritated and is starving. Got him checked and had low sugar. Then it spiked to six units under his weight. Next we got him back to normal and still starving. Cushing disease?

    • janie knetzer
      Reply

      Hi John:
      Cushings is one of those diseases that I think mimicks a lot of other conditions and is often hard to diagnose. I swear my doberman had Cushings, yet the vet ruled it out. She was always very hungry, but also hypothyroid which is definitely another condition to consider. Go to a good holistic vet to check both. Don’t rely on traditional vets for a diagnosis of hypothyroidism.

      Janie

  • Sherry Matthews
    Reply

    15 year old chihuahua acts like she’s starving all the time for last year. I feed her 1 cup twice a day and give her a multivitamin. Shes also deaf.

    • janie knetzer
      Reply

      Hi Sherry:

      Not sure if you read the entire article or not, but there are several common concerns when they are hungry all the time. First, the food you’re feeding may not be adequate. It sounds like you’re feeding kibble. I highly recommend that you look into a better type of food such as The Honest Kitchen where you simply add warm water and she has a home cooked meal. It’s much better for her. Get creative with her diet. Scramble or hard boil an egg, add a little canned sardine packed in water (drained), bake up some salmon or cod, include a little frozen or fresh vegetables.

      If she’s showing symptoms of diabetes or hypothyroidism, then you definitely need to get her checked so that either can be ruled out, or she gets the medication she needs. Anyway, I would seriously consider not only changing her diet, but changing the type of food you’re feeding and include more quality protein (meat). I also highly recommend a good multi vitamin for her.

      I hope this helps and I’m sending hugs to your old girl. 🙂

      Janie

    • Henry
      Reply

      My Chihuahua is 100% Chihuahua but on the larger side. He weighs 17lbs but is only supposed to weight 12lbs. I feed him 3/4c of wet/dry mix for dinner at 3:45pm and then around 7pm he gets another 1/4c. He is still hungry all the time and not losing weight. Sure, I give him a couple tiny nuggets of extra sharp cheddar cheese when I’m making macaroni and cheese and he usually gets a few pieces of whatever we’re having for dinner, but I swear it is driving me nuts because it’s not a lot. We live in a big house and he is like a duck and follows us all up and down the stairs, plus I take him for daily walks around the block. I read that you give your Chihuahua 2 cups per day. I’ve heard so many different stories of how much food dogs get and I’m sorry but my Vet told me to give my Chihuahua 1/2c per day, and that’s all! NO WAY! He would be starving! I’m going to try “The Honest Kitchen”. Ordering it today. I was giving him Science Diet Kibble mixed with 1/2 of a container of Caesars wet dog food. I am concerned that something inside him is sucking up the nutrients which is making him hungry all the time.

      • janie
        Reply

        Hi Henry!

        I am SO GLAD to hear that you are making the switch from Science Diet to The Honest Kitchen! Yippee…. However, I would also dump the Ceasars wet food and mix with just a little raw ground turkey, chicken or beef (freeze the beef before feeding raw and then allow to defrost). Or you can simply cook the meat a little but you want to make sure it’s mostly raw.

        Make sure he’s not a diabetic.

        Janie

  • Amanda
    Reply

    I am hunting down possible reaso s for my older dogs behaviour but nothing seems to really fit the situation. He doesn’t necessarily eat constantly and in fact eats moderately out of his food bowl. But he is constantly begging and standing under foot and practically waitibg to snatch food out of your hand. I just can’t seem to figure out why the sudden change in him…

    • yourolddog
      Reply

      Amanda, this is actually pretty simple. I bet you’re feeding kibble? I run into this a lot with clients.

      • Amanda
        Reply

        Yes. Haha He’s always had kibbles.
        That’s wrong isn’t it? He is about 12 years old and has some skin cancer so we’ve been just letting him do whatever he wants but lately he is just downright rude about eating human foods.

        • yourolddog
          Reply

          Lol, I thought so. Are you doing anything for his cancer? Do you want to? I’ll recommend some ideas for food, but if you’re interested I can recommend a tea that my own dog takes that works incredibly well for dogs with cancer. Let me know.

          Can you afford a better food and more meat, along with the tea (not too expensive and goes a long way).

          • Amanda

            Well the vets have said that the cancer at this point is not causing pain but it is soreading so they do monitor it. My husband has decided that unless it is hurting him to simply let him be. Tea might be useful. These are my babies so any suggestions for better food is always appreciated. I feel awful everytime I stuff my face he looks at me like he is a starving orphan. Lol

          • yourolddog

            The best thing you can do for him and all your dogs is to avoid kibble. People are under the assumption that all people food is bad for dogs, that is very far from the truth. I don’t know what your budget is, but for your dog with cancer, FEED HIM MEAT, VEGGIES (frozen in bag spinach, kale, brussel sprouts without butter, steamed lettuce, fresh parsley and EGGS. Don’t over cook the meat Amanda. No gravies or anything with flour in it. No potatoes, peas or carrots.

            I don’t know how much you want to do for your dog? So, I don’t want to write out more than necessary if you’re not interested in home cooking. Let me know. He needs real food, the kind you eat. The kind they are supposed to eat.

            Here’ the link for the tea that helps many.

          • Henry

            If your dog is still around, I hope so, look up MMS for dogs. It cures diseases and cancer of all types. It is a hidden miracle that the pharmaceutical and medical industry will not allow to surface.

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