You thought you rescued a pooch. But it’s like you got an eating machine. What’s up with your dog’s excessive appetite? Continue reading to learn:
Why is my rescue dog obsessed with food?
Your rescue dog is obsessed with food due to various reasons, such as nutritional deficiency, diabetes type-1, or intestinal worms. It can also be a behavior developed after being starved for a long time, after fighting for food, caused by exciting and new things, or just because of their breed.
7 reasons why your rescue dog is obsessed with food
#1: Feeling excited
Dogs are always excited about food. That’s part of their nature. But they could also eat more when excited. “Is that food? Is that food? Give me.” Think of your doggo’s previous situation. They were deprived of food and fun. So their excitement for new things is high.
My friend’s rescue dog acts this way. He gets too excited about almost everything. He tends to run quickly once his leash is off. And where does he head to? His food bowl. When he finds it empty, he will start pawing and follow my friend around. He won’t stop until he gets fed. He devours food like there’s no tomorrow. My friend’s other dogs are big eaters too, but the rescue doggo is a voracious one.
“Would my dog stay this way?” Don’t worry. This behavior is temporary. You can help your pooch contain their excitement and train them to be calm to get what they want. Here are WebMD’s suggestions to prevent begging:
- Using praises and treats.
- Redirecting their attention.
- Using positive reinforcement.
- Training them to go to their spot.
- Giving them toys while you’re eating.
- Ignoring them when they cry for food.
- Refraining from feeding them table scraps.
It’s important your pooch learns how to behave. Start with simple training. They’ll get to know you and feel more secure around you.
#2: Intestinal worms
Worms and excessive appetite? “How can that even go together?” Let’s talk about intestinal worms. Imagine them as robbers. But instead of money, they rob nutrients. These nutrients are for your dog. But intestinal worms take most of these from your pooch. Now your dog ends up not getting enough. This causes your rescue dog to feel hungry. All the time. And once there’s food, they guzzle it.
If you want to know more about intestinal worms, watch: [Video about intestinal worms]
Worms are internal parasites. Below are 5 types of worms:
“Was it caused by their previous environment?” It’s possible. There are ways on how your doggo can get worms:
- Mosquito bites.
- Eating worm eggs.
- From their dog mom.
They had no caring furparents before. They could’ve eaten other worm-infected animals or ate worm eggs from playing. You can’t exactly know the reason, but you can check for signs. AKC listed common symptoms of worms in dogs:
- Weight loss.
- Blood in stool.
- Abdominal pain.
- Poor coat appearance.
- Pot-bellied appearance.
- Intestinal blockage or pneumonia.
- Deficiencies in nutrition and anemia.
Worms won’t go away by themselves. Your vet’s help is much needed.
#3: Starved for a long time
Maybe you met your dog in a rescue center, or in an animal shelter, or maybe on the street. One thing is for sure. Your doggo experienced a lack of food at some point. Or worse, most of their life. Dallas, for example, was a severely emaciated Pit Bull. He was left chained outside, and he had no adequate food for a long time. He was rescued by PETA. Another rescue dog, Blue, was locked inside a crate. He was found beside a dog who died of starvation. Blue is now in a loving home.
This is the reality of rescue dogs. They are usually hungrier because they’re not used to abundance. So when they see food, they chow it down. And sometimes, they can’t stop. “I’m sorry if I get hungry a lot, hooman…” You can’t blame your best pal. It’s just a response they developed.
“Should I let them be?” As a fur parent of a rescue dog, it’ll make you proud to see your pooch enjoying food. They deserve it. You’ll feel sympathy towards them. And you’ll be tempted to overfeed them. But you shouldn’t. This isn’t just to train them. It’s more for their health.
Overfeeding after a long time of starvation may cause health concerns. It’s called a refeeding syndrome. Your pooch might experience muscle weakness and cramps. It could also cause organ failure. So it’s better you don’t give in to their begging. Here are ways to deal with your dog’s hunger:
- Scheduling of meals.
- Add fiber to their diet.
- Small but frequent meals.
- Use food dispensing toys.
- A quick trip to your dog’s vet.
It might take time to teach them, but it’ll be easier as they trust you more.
#4: Nutritional deficiency
Most rescue dogs are nutrient-deficient. They weren’t well taken care of. But they don’t need to stay that way. They have you. And you… Well, you’ve got yourself an eating machine. You might wonder, “My dog has a big appetite. Isn’t he receiving enough nutrients?” Your pooch isn’t getting enough nutrients. That’s why they gorge themselves. The nutrients they get aren’t enough. That leaves them always starving.
It’s important to find the root cause of the nutritional deficiency. It could happen for many reasons. Here’s a list of the usual causes:
- Improper diet.
- Prescribed medications.
Your doggo should get these nutrients:
- Vitamin D.
- Vitamin E.
- Vitamin K.
- Omega-3 fats.
- Omega-6 fats.
Research shows that eating more isn’t enough. A balanced diet is a little bit of everything. Sometimes, a small deficiency can lead to serious problems. A quick trip to the vet is necessary. They’ll prescribe vitamins to keep your pooch healthy.
Diabetes affects dogs too. Like with humans, diabetes is a serious condition. Warning: It can cause heart problems and stroke in dogs. Type-1 diabetes is an auto-immune disorder. It happens when there isn’t enough insulin production.
“What does it mean for my pooch?” Insulin regulates blood sugar levels. Without insulin, glucose won’t get into the cells, and sugar will build up in the bloodstream. Below are symptoms of diabetes from PetMD:
- Drinking a lot.
- Poor coat quality.
- Sudden weight loss.
- Repeating infections.
- Urinating excessively.
- Having a ravenous appetite.
You can visit the shelter of your rescue dog. They’ll know the history of your pooch. Did your dog ever show the signs above? Or were they diagnosed before? The shelter or organization will have answers to these. And it’ll be easier to deal with your dog.
“Will my dog be cured?” Unfortunately, nope. Once diabetes starts, it’s there to stay. But it can be managed. Frequent visits to the vet will be needed.
#6: Survival instinct
“If I don’t eat fast, I don’t get to eat at all.” This is your dog’s behavior. And it’s a response they developed. They lived without enough food. If there’s supply, they’ve to share it with many. I mean, imagine a group of dogs ravaging a piece of meat. Or multiple heads wolfing down a dog bowl. What would a rescue dog learn? That they need to devour food as fast as possible. That’s the only way to eat.
“And my dog is food protective too…” You fill their bowl. They gobble up everything. They bark when someone gets near. That’s just a glimpse of their past. And not a sign of aggressiveness. Help and support are necessary. Your dog needs to learn they’re safe.
“Aren’t all dogs big eaters?” It’s a cliche. All dogs love to eat. But there are breeds that eat ravenously. Below is a list of the biggest eaters:
- Basset Hound.
- Cocker Spaniel.
- English Bulldog.
- Labrador Retriever.
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
If your rescue dog belongs to the abovementioned breeds, that could be the explanation. They could also be a mixed breed. If so, that could also play a role. You can ask other fur parents about their doggo’s appetite, especially if they have one of these breeds. Compare the same breeds. If appetites differ, you should consider other reasons.
Should I be worried about my rescue dog?
It depends on the scenario. Food obsession can be a response or a symptom of a disorder. If it’s a behavioral response, you shouldn’t worry. But if other signs of a disorder are present, have them checked. It is still best to visit your vet even before your pooch comes home. So you’ll also know if they need extra care and attention.