It doesn't matter how often or how much you feed some dogs—they're always begging for more. While they don't physically need an extra serving of food, those melt-your-heart eyes and wagging tail often lead to their owner reaching for one more scoop or tossing them some extra treats. But it's still not enough, and the begging persists.
For the insatiable dog in your life, the following are six ways to curb their appetite and ease your guilt over their constant begging.
1. Confirm Your Serving Size is Correct
While this was likely your first instinct, check that you're feeding your dog the appropriate volume of food based on their weight and age. Under-feeding will leave them feeling unsatisfied and begging for more. Talk to our veterinarians about proper food servings, and review this handy breakdown of appropriate servings by age from Hill's Pet Nutrition. Every dog food is different in calorie content so there is no one-size-fits-all amount to feed your dog.
2. Boost Their Fiber Intake
To satisfy your dog's healthy appetite without adding pounds to their waistline, introduce more vegetables to their diet. Vegetables such as carrots and green beans add fiber to their diet, which will make your dog feel full without adding a ton of calories. The easiest way to accomplish this is to chop slightly-cooked vegetables and add them to their food. An alternative is to serve vegetables in between meals as a snack to hold them until the next meal. Regardless of the method you choose, introduce the vegetables slowly, as too much fiber too quickly can lead to gastrointestinal upset.
3. Increase Feeding Frequency
If your dog has become accustomed to two large meals a day but always seems to be hungry, consider feeding them multiple small meals throughout the day. This means taking their usual volume of food and dividing it up into smaller servings given more frequently—maintaining their calorie intake and avoiding extra pounds. The consistency of feeding will help your dog feel more satisfied throughout the day.
4. Distract Your Dog
Much like humans who mindlessly snack when bored, it's not uncommon for dogs to beg for food when they're bored. Try taking your dog's mind off their hunger by taking them for a walk, hike, or ride in the car. Just be careful of giving them too much exercise in an attempt to distract them, as burning excess calories might increase their appetite. Reputable doggie daycares are also an excellent option for an always-hungry dog, with the constant activity and interaction with other dogs serving as a great distraction.
5. Cut Back on the Treats
While this might seem counterproductive, dogs quickly learn when they can expect treats and will constantly act in ways that will earn them more. Their expectation of a treat might come across as hunger or begging when in reality, they're looking for a reward. Help your dog unlearn the behaviors they associate with treats by rewarding them in new ways, such as extra playtime, snuggles, or an extra walk.
6. Try Interactive Feeding
Some dogs eat too fast, with their bowl empty long before their body and mind catch up with the fact that they're full. A puzzle feeder or feeding toy might be the solution, which will slow their eating and occupy their mind in the process. The American Kennel Club offers additional ideas to help slow your dog's eating.
Before attempting any of these strategies to ease your dog's constant desire for food and treats, bring them in to see your veterinarian for a quick checkup.
Certain medical conditions may cause a dog to feel extra hungry, and some of those are:
- Cushing's Disease
- Intestinal parasites
This is especially important if your dog is taking in a lot of calories but not gaining any weight or if their increased appetite is a new thing. Once you have the green light from your veterinarian that your dog is in top health, try any (or all!) of the above strategies to ease their constant begging for more food and ensure optimal nutrition.
Contact us if you want to learn more about helping your dog manage their insatiable appetite.