Many dogs act as if they're hungry all the time even despite being fed regularly and in normal amounts. In particular, beagles, golden retrievers and Labradors are notorious for being talented gorgers who will wolf food down like there's no tomorrow.
The medical term for excessive hunger is polyphagia, but dogs who act hungry all the time may be just simply displaying a healthy appetite that's reminiscent of their past as hunters, and then later on, scavengers. Following are several possible explanations as to why dogs act as if they're starving all the time.
Natural Born Eaters
Let's face it, dogs are gluttonous by nature. Sure, you occasionally may stumble on a finicky dog, but the average dog is blessed with a healthy appetite that at times may even appear voracious. The dog's gluttonous behavior stems back from the olden days when he was killing large animals which supplied massive amounts of foods all at once.
Back then, refrigerators and freezers had yet to be invented and since the animals were on their own, their best bet was eating as much as they could before the vultures would dive in and scavenge all the remains. And since food wasn't always available, it made sense to want to fill up to full capacity due to their feast-or-famine lifestyles.
Spoiled Eating Habits
Dogs tend to repeat behaviors that have a history of reinforcement. If every time you prepare lunch or dinner you toss your dog a piece of bread here and a piece of steak there, your dog will quickly learn to beg all the time and no wonder why he always acts like he's hungry!
Dogs are habitual creatures so once they identify a pattern, they'll stick to it. So if you feed food when you prepare lunch or your kids toss your dog some broccoli from under table, granted he'll be there punctually each and every day begging for some tidbits.
A Competitive Edge
Some dogs are prone to eating very fast and act as if they're starving when they're fed around other dogs. Again, this may stem from a dog's natural tendency to feast on what they have. So when there are other dogs around, they may feel compelled to adhere to the "use it or lose it" strategy.
Indeed, any time a dog doesn't show interest in a particular food and engages in finicky behaviors, most likely the other dogs will readily gulp the food down. Soon, the lesson is learned, better eat what's there before another dog takes over.
A Marketing Strategy
To make problems worse, manufacturers of dog food design their food in such a way so that dogs strongly crave their foods and owners continue to buy them. After ensuring that dog food meets a dog's nutritional needs, dog food manufacturers work hard on designing a food that's highly palatable to dogs which translates into more sales, explains veterinarian Dr. Robin Downing.
Highly palatable foods though turn problematic when dogs eat more than what they need, which tends to happen when they're offered all that they want. To prevent obesity and weight gain, it's therefore crucial to adhere to portion control.
Last but not least, dogs who act hungry all the time may also be suffering from a medical condition. Dogs who have heavy loads of intestinal parasites may have a ravenous appetite because the pesky parasites may be depriving them from nutrition.
Other medical conditions known for causing dogs to act hungry all the time include diabetes, hyperadrenocorticism, hyperthyroidism, malabsorption and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.
Also, certain medications such as steroids are notorious for causing increased appetite in dogs, explains Dr. Kristiina Ruotsalo in an article for VCA Animal Hospital.
Did you know? There is bloat and then there is gluttony bloat. Gluttony bloats refers to bloat arising when a dog overeats. It's not unheard of for dogs to manage to eat a whole bag of dog food at once and then develop this life-threatening condition. Symptoms of bloat include restlessness, pacing, trouble breathing, abdominal pain, unproductive retching and a distended abdomen. Dogs showing symptoms of bloat should see the vet at once.