If your dog always seems hungry, it may be an underlying medical issue at play. Many of us have greedy gobblers for pets, and sometimes it’s pretty cute. But if your dog really can’t seem to stop eating, it’s worth looking into further. Yes sometimes it’s normal, and even genetic, but in other cases, it’s time to see the vet.

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  1. Why Is My Dog Always Hungry
  2. How to Deal with a Dog That Is Always Hungry
  3. FAQs
  4. Conclusion

Why Is My Dog Always Hungry

Dogs can act hungry all the time simply because they have a naturally high food drive or because begging behavior has been rewarded with treats. Usually, it’s an inherited instinct from wild canines to eat as much as possible in one go as food can be scarce. It is also genetic, with some breeds like Labradors having a deleted POMC gene that makes them always feel hungry.

For instance, a study by Dr. Eleanor Raffan found that a "deletion in POMC is a significant modifier of weight and appetite in Labrador retrievers and (Flat-coated Retrievers) and may influence other behavioral traits."

This means that certain breeds are genetically predisposed to feeling hungry all the time, which makes them highly trainable for food rewards.

However, there can be medical and even behavioral or psychological issues at play. Common reasons a dog seems hungry all the time include:

  • Metabolic and endocrine issues such as Cushing’s disease, thyroid issues, and diabetes.
  • Growth spurts in puppies
  • Intestinal worms
  • Competition for food with other pets
  • Previous starvation or malnutrition (often the case with some rescues)
  • Obesity (all the extra fan mess with their hormonal balance and make them feel hungry all the time even if they are overweight)
  • Digestive problems that don’t let them absorb nutrients such as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) or malabsorption syndrome.
  • Compulsive overeating from boredom or stress (called Psychogenic Polyphagia)
  • Pregnancy or nursing in female dogs
  • Spaying and neutering can cause hormonal changes that can increase a dog’s appetite
  • Some medications such as thyroid treatments, prednisone, and seizure medications can increase a dog’s appetite.

Even in cases of cancer, dogs may suddenly act hungry all the time. This is because tumors absorb a lot of essential nutrients in the body, leaving the dog malnourished even though they can’t stop eating.

How to Deal with a Dog That Is Always Hungry

As you can see there are a lot of serious reasons that a dog may be hungry all the time. In some cases, you may just need to stop rewarding begging and make sure they can’t grab snacks off the counter or out of the garbage. In other cases, you can try giving your dog smaller meals throughout the day that are heavier in protein and perhaps a bit more fiber, but always speak to your vet about nutritional changes.

The better quality food your dog is getting for their age, size, and activity levels the more likely it is they won’t have any deficiencies. If your dog is obese or overweight, make sure to get them on a vet-approved diet and exercise plan to help them reach a healthy weight.

If you think your dog has a compulsive eating issue, use a Petcube Cam to monitor your dog’s behavior when you’re not home. This way you can take note if they get bored or if they are stressed throughout the day and need more activity and play time to get their mind off food.

Finally, since so many health conditions, from diabetes to cancer, make your dog suddenly act like they’re starving all the time, it’s important to see your vet and do a full health check to make sure there’s no underlying problem that needs treatment.


Do Dogs Know When to Stop Eating?

Many dogs do not have a natural "off switch" when it comes to eating and they may eat until they regurgitate if they have enough food put in front of them.

This is often true for dogs with a genetic disposition for a high food drive, growing puppies, or for dogs with medical conditions. So it’s important to monitor your dog’s portions if they gobble everything in sight.

Why Are Dogs So Food Motivated?

Most dogs are naturally motivated by food because it smells good and they need it to survive. In the wild, canines will often eat as much as possible when there is food around because they don’t know when the next meal is coming and many domestic dogs still have this instinct. We have also selectively bred dogs for this trait because food makes an excellent reward and easy way to train dogs. But beware, as excessive hunger is sometimes also a sign of a health issue.


Understanding why your dog is always hungry is simply more information on how to care for them better. Whether it’s learned behavior, instinctive, genetic, or because there is an underlying medical issue that needs treatment, it’s best not to ignore excessive hunger in dogs. Make sure a vet checks them out and take steps to adapt their food, training, and feeding schedule to help your pup feel more comfortable throughout the day.

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