Why Does My Dog Always Want Food?

If your dog is always hanging around the kitchen for scraps or willing to eat anything at anytime, there could be a reason for the behavior.

Is your dog always hungry? By: seansulli
Is your dog always hungry? By: seansulli

Have you ever had a canine companion that seems to be constantly sniffing around the kitchen? Lurking around the table when you’re eating? Shadowing you about until you start to hear the theme music from Jaws run through your head?

I bet that a lot of us dog caretakers have felt that way — some dogs just never seem satisfied with the feeding that they’re getting and want more and more and…well, you get the idea.

If you find that you’re feeding your dog regularly and yet he is still gazing at you with soulful (and hungry) eyes, it may be time to consider what is causing this behavior.

The Hoover

It may be that your dog is just a darn ol’ glutton. Some dogs are and will hoover up anything if they are given the chance. Things like dropped food, cat food, other dogs’ food and, yes, the dreaded cat litter (ew!) are all considered edible.

A full tummy is not a strong deterrent—especially when it comes to people food. Your dog knows that what you’re eating is much yummier than the kibble you’re dumping in his bowl, and he won’t miss a chance to get some of the good stuff!

Try to restrain yourself from feeding your pup “people” food constantly — there are a lot of preservatives and other nasty things in there that just aren’t good for him. Feeding him people food on top of dog food is going to make him get fat, which is just as unhealthy for him as it would be for a person. Plus, it allows him to learn the dreaded begging technique, which is something you want to avoid at all costs.

So if you feel as though you are feeding your dog enough and your veterinarian concurs, then you may just have a glutton on your hands. It may be wise to keep your dog out of the kitchen as much as possible, even using baby gates and other such barriers if needed.

Not Enough Food

Another answer for your dog’s feeding frenzy could be that you’re just not feeding him enough. As our dogs grow and their activities change, it is not uncommon that they need adjustments to their diets. For example, if you’ve suddenly decided to get into shape and you’re taking your dog on long walks or jogs, he is burning more energy. So, he’ll need a bit more calories to keep that energy up.

Or if you started out with an adorable puppy but now find yourself with 90 pounds of pooch, it just makes sense that he will need more food and possibly a different type of food as well. You don’t want a fat dog, but you also don’t want one who is starved.

This video demonstrates what to look for to determine if your dog is at an ideal weight:

If you can see his ribs, it’s a good bet he’s not getting enough food and you should up his intake. This will vary by breed; some very active breeds, such as greyhounds, are still considered at an ideal weight even though you can see the outline of the ribs. Talk to your vet about the ideal weight for your specific dog.

If you can’t see his ribs and you can’t even feel them, it’s time to slow down the gravy train because he’s packing on the pounds. Checking with your veterinarian is the way to go here as well. Going over daily activities and the amount of food that you dole out with your vet allows him or her to tell you whether it’s not enough, enough or too much. Go over dietary changes of any kind with your vet before making them.

Medical Reasons

Now don’t freak out, but there could be a medical reason. Some conditions such as diabetes or hyperthyroidism play havoc with the system, and constantly wanting to eat could be a symptom of those.

Diabetes in your dog is like diabetes in a person — basically the pancreas doesn’t manufacture insulin, which the body needs to handle sugar intake. Your (and your pooch’s) body needs sugar to create energy.

If there is too much or too little sugar in the blood it can make your pooch act weird — and looking for more food would definitely be in line with this because they are instinctively looking for more sugar.

Hyperthyroidism is just what it sounds like: a disorder of the thyroid gland. Thyroid conditions cause weight gain when the thyroid levels are too low (hypothyroidism); alternatively, it causes weight loss and increased hunger when thyroid levels are too high (hyperthyroidism). Keep in mind that this disorder is particularly tricky to diagnose because the symptoms are so similar to other ailments. Only a blood test will tell you for sure.

It’s always best to consult with your veterinarian immediately if you think that your pet might have diabetes or any other illness. I can’t stress enough to never make assumptions. It is so easy nowadays to go search the internet and scare ourselves silly with possible conditions, but it is best to stay calm and remind yourself that there is no way of knowing for sure without talking with your vet.

Wait for confirmation from your vet before making any major changes to diet or medication. And if your dog is just a darn ol’ glutton? Then it’s time to put a stop to his gravy train.


 

Is THIS the Year’s Best Dog Food?

Show Me

Melissa Smith

View posts by Melissa Smith
Melissa Smith, discussions manager for Petful, has been researching and writing about pet behaviors for several years. A longtime animal lover, Melissa is a professional pet sitter on Cape Cod through her company, Fresh Start Services.

Please share this with your friends below:

Also Popular

26 Comments

  1. denebolaeltanin
    December 28, 2014

    My 7 month old rhodesian ridgeback is always looking for food. On the streets he will pick up everything. He will harass guests and family alike when they have food. He gets very desperate. We’ve never fed him any food on the table or anything, but he just keeps trying. He gets incredibly desperate and once managed to eat almost half a bag of his kibble and got very sick (we didn’t give it to him, he got a bag we had stored in a cupboard).

    He is 25,5 kg now and I think he looks good, if a little on the thin side but our vet said that was normal for his breed. We’re thinking of changing his food to something of better quality. Do you think this could help?

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      March 9, 2015

      denebolaeltanin, I think that it’s great that you are obviously great about keeping in touch with your vet! I can’t say enough how important it is to bring your vet on board with your concerns and you are obviously doing an awesome job there!
      In terms of changing his food, are you looking for him to put on a little more weight? You can certainly try changing his food, but be aware that some animals take a little time to adjust to a new food and in the interim you may have some runny stool and/or constipation to deal with.
      I always advocate reading and understanding pet food labels as well. Pet food companies can be tricky about how they list their food and what is really in those bags of kibble! Try hard to stay away from brands that list corn or a derivative as one of their number one ingredients, Look for foods that have real meats in them. And as always, check with your vet and see what he or she recommends!

      Reply
      1. denebolaeltanin
        March 9, 2015

        Hello Melissa,
        We decided to change his food about a month and a half ago to a better brand. The food we were giving him was corn based. We’re giving him Taste of the Wild now. The change was a bit arduous, the poor thing wasn’t used to getting that much animal protein! But after about 2 or 3 weeks, his stools normalized and he’s doing much better.
        His hair shines a lot more now and he doesn’t look quite so thin anymore. However, the constant search for food hasn’t changed much. Just a week ago he ate 8 chicken legs we left in the kitchen (we were very worried about the bones, but everything was alright).
        He will still harass guests for food and gets very desperate if there’s any food around. He can’t possibly be that hungry, we’re feeding him the indicated amount and he has gained some weight…

        Reply
        1. Melissa Smith
          March 9, 2015

          I would check with the vet, of course, but I bet there is a little canine intelligence going on there too! He knows that chicken tastes good (and doesn’t have the slightest why we owners freak out about it) and that guests aren’t going to be as strict as you are about feeding him from the table. Maybe try putting him in another room if possible when guests are over and have food out? Another thing you can do is to make sure to explain to your guests that you are trying to train him not to beg and that it is very important that they help you out with that. It is so hard to say no when you see those gorgeous eyes looking so sad, but tell your guests that he is actually fed quite well, and that table food isn’t something you choose to give to him for his own health.
          If it makes you feel better, I always had a devil of a time with my dog and food before she passed away. She especially loved chicken and even though she knew I would go mental if she went in the trash, if there was chicken (or weirdly, pumpkin muffins from Dunkin Donuts) in there, she’d go for it. She was also a huge kitty litter eater. I finally had to get a six foot gate to keep her out of the bathroom where we kept the litter because she would get through ANYthing else to get to it!

          Reply
  2. VizslaLuvvR
    January 4, 2015

    I had the same problem with my Vizsla and it all stopped once I changed her to a raw food diet. not sure what they put into the kibbles but it seems to make dogs more prone to ailments and really doesn’t seem to fill them up. I used to feed a “high quality” kibble but changing to raw food made the world of difference for our pup’s constant food drive.

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      March 9, 2015

      VizslaLuvvR, many people agree with you about the raw meat diets. They say that it adds a lot of protein to their pets’ diets and that they see a marked improvement in health. I have never tried it for my pets personally, so I can’t offer an educated opinion. But I can say good on you for thinking about what you feed your pets! Believe it or not, there are many people who buy whatever is on sale, and dump it in the bowl for their pup.

      Reply
  3. Alpha
    March 6, 2015

    Cool article but I have to say, if you want people to return to your site you should try to respond to the readers. There’s a two-month old question down there.

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      March 9, 2015

      My fault entirely, you’re absolutely right!! Thank you for your comment on the article

      Reply
  4. Amy
    April 18, 2015

    I have a 1 year old poodle/malteese mix. And he is always hungry my husband and I feed him 2 a day but it never seems to be enough. We’ve even caught him nibbling at paper in our trash can with poop on them . He eats stuff thrown out and just about anything on the floor. My husband gets extremely upset and puts him in a dog cage for a whole day hoping it could train him to stop. But it just wont

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      April 20, 2015

      Hi Amy! Sounds like you have a real hungry hound on your hands! I sympathize completely, there is nothing worse than waking up to overturned trash all over the floor. It’s incredibly frustrating but you can take care of this behavior, I promise.

      The first thing you should do is check with your vet about changing your dog’s diet. It may be as simple as the food he is getting isn’t meeting his dietary needs in some way. Animals are instinctually programmed to go looking for a lack in their bodies so if the doggie food he’s getting isn’t giving him what he needs, he will go rooting around in trash and eating other icky things like poop.

      It is really important to stop both trash raiding and poop eating. In the trash, your dog could likely eat something that will make him sick, and when it comes to poop if he eats scat from other animals and they are infected with worms, he could get them (as well as other diseases).

      With food changes, you do want to check with your veterinarian because he or she can recommend the best food for your dog’s age and breed, and even give you some tips about stopping trash raiding and poop eating behaviors.

      The problem with the trash is that now your dog has discovered that people food is yummy! When I was doing research for another article, I found a couple of things from the ASPCA that might help you here. One was to ensure that trash access was limited. If you have a cupboard you can keep the trash in, putting it out of sight will help keep your dog from dumpster diving. If not, there are trash cans you can get that have covers that lock on firmly, preventing dogs from getting in.

      There are also devices called “Snappy Traps” that you can place around areas that you don’t want your dog going. I found one on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Snappy-Trainer-Pet/dp/B000WP4R52/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1429514401&sr=8-1&keywords=snappy+traps These seem relatively simply to use and are harmless to pets, they simply make a loud noise when triggered that scares the dog off from the area he is in.

      If you want another option, there is also the ScatMat, which uses low grade electrical shock to train animals away from areas that you do not want them to go. http://www.amazon.com/PetSafe-ScatMat-Electronic-Training-16-Inch/dp/B0007NWNM8/ref=pd_sbs_petsupplies_4?ie=UTF8&refRID=0GBNC30NN9GCPP175BGR These are highly reviewed and reviewers posted comments saying it was like getting a static shock when you touch a door — annoying but harmless.
      Start with talking to your vet and moving that trash if at all possible out of his reach. And good luck! With some perseverance you will be able to break this behavior!

      Reply
  5. Megan
    April 28, 2015

    We adopted a pit terrier a few months back. He was very skinny when he came to the shelter. He’s gained some weight and the vet is happy with his current size. We’d like to be able to let him roam the house with our other pets while we’re at work, but he constantly searches for food (even right after eating.) We feed him in the crate because he races to finish. I’m going to buy him a slow feed bowl to try and help with that. Any tips on helping with the food searching? He’s a trash dog, too, so we have to keep our bathroom doors closed.

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      April 28, 2015

      You have a doggie hoover! I am certainly no doggie psychologist, but if he grew up always having to look for food, then it may be a habit that needs to be either trained out of him or that will pass on it’s own as he gets older and the puppyhood experiences move farther behind him.
      I think a slow feed bowl is an excellent idea! I would also talk to your veterinarian and ask him or her if feeding your pup more frequently but with smaller meals might help him with his constant food drive. You can also ask the vet for suggestions on a different kind of food. It may be that there is a nutrient that your dog needs that he is instinctively looking for. There are a few different reasons why your dog might be on a constant search and consume mission! Its always best to start with the vet, because he or she can access medical files and draw on a wealth of experience. Hang in there, and good luck!

      Reply
      1. Megan
        April 29, 2015

        Thank you for the advice! Much appreciated. : )

        Reply
        1. Melissa Smith
          April 30, 2015

          I hope it helps!! You sound like you have some really great ideas already, don’t worry — you’ll get it sorted out!

          Reply
  6. Tina
    April 28, 2015

    Hi. Great articile by the way, I have a 8 week old shih tzu and for some reason, he always thinks that if my hands are close to him (Either to pet or pick him up) I have food and them and tries to nip the all the time! Is there a reason why he is doing this and there is anything i can do to stop this behavior…. It’s like he expects me to always have food! I have hand fed him 2 times- because we are transitioning him to dry food and for some reason.. he will not eat it unless I put it in my hands then he will eat like it’s the best thing in the world… we feed him blue buffalo lifetime protection for small breed puppies. We have our first vet visit next wednesday so unfortunately i have to wait until then to really ask anything, Thank you in advance!

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      April 28, 2015

      Thank you! The first thing I would suggest is to stop feeding him entirely from your hands if at all possible. He sounds like he has learned that there is the possibility of something yummy when your hands come close to him. If you can train him out of that expectation that may help a lot. Unfortunately its not a quick fix, but it is something you can start right away and that won’t hurt him in any way. If he is hungry enough, generally he will eat whether it is in your hands or no, so try not putting any food including treats in your hands. Let him learn that the bowl is where it’s at!
      And of course talk to your vet about the behavior. A lot of times vets have seen so much that they are a wealth of knowledge about pet behavior. You should not feel like you can’t talk to your vet before the visit. If you have questions, by all means give your vet a call! They may not be able to get you an appointment right away, but most vets will always call back and talk to you about your pet. If your vet is not encouraging in this area or makes you feel lousy about it, find another vet if you can. You want someone that can really be your pet partner through your pet’s life. Good luck, I am totally sure you can help your pup kick this behavior! You got this!

      Reply
      1. Tina
        April 29, 2015

        Thank you Melissa! Much appreciated! He really is a great pup! I know with time, he will learn and be the best dog in the world 🙂

        Reply
        1. Melissa Smith
          April 30, 2015

          I bet he will, it sounds like he has a wonderful doggy Mom to take care of him! 🙂

          Reply
  7. Kate
    May 6, 2015

    Hi Melissa, I rescued a 3 year old male dalmatian in December. When we picked him up he was very overweight, bloated, drank lots of water and had only ever lived in a courtyard. He was fed cups of food to bribe him. This food was full of preservatives and salt. We brought him to our quarter acre block, changed his diet to cooked mince and rice with decent kibble and started exercising him regularly. He lost quite a bit of weight very rapidly but now he looks very underweight and no matter how much extra food I give him he is always hungry and losing more weight. Do you have any ideas?

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      May 6, 2015

      Hi Kate! I love Dalmatians, I bet he is beautiful!
      I think the best thing you can do in this case is take him to be seen by the vet. He could possibly have worms, of which many are treatable by medication that the vet gives you. A lot of people feel like they are bad pet parents if their dog gets worms, but some of those worms are darned easy to get, and just like with children you can’t watch your dog every second of every day to see what he puts in his mouth!
      He could also have something going on with his metabolism and/or digestion because he started his life with such a poor diet. Rapid and unexplained weight loss can also be a sign of cancer, so it is very important to get him looked at.
      Dogs can lose weight for a number of reasons, so it’s important not to panic! Make the appointment with his regular veterinarian, and explain to your vet that you’re not sure what is going on, but that your Dalmatian is underweight and seems to be losing weight even though you are increasing his food intake. Your vet may recommend you change him to a different diet to see if that helps — if he’s burning a lot of energy he may just need even more fuel.
      I can tell you are a really awesome doggie mom, hang in there!

      Reply
      1. Kate
        May 9, 2015

        Thanks Melissa. He has an appointment with the vet next week so hopefully we will know more then. He really is an awesome pup and I really hate seeing him look so bad, especially when we are trying everything we can to keep him healthy.

        Reply
        1. Melissa Smith
          May 9, 2015

          You are doing the right things — hang in there! Don’t forget you can always call your vet in the meantime if you have questions that you’d like him to try and answer over the phone. Things like “should I change his food now, or wait to see you” or “Would you like me to keep a log of his weight daily leading up to the appointment?” Things like that, or even if you just need a little reassurance. Great vets are there for you as well as your pets, and a lot of times one call can make you feel a whole lot better. When I was going through rough times with my dog, I felt like we were almost at the point where we were going to have to invite each other to family gatherings!

          Reply
          1. Kate
            May 13, 2015

            Just thought I would let you know the outcome from the visit to the vets. Pup has lost 10kgs since January despite being fed twice a day. They are testing him for Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency and some other things but it seems to be pretty certain that this is the issue. Now to work out how to fix it!

            Reply
            1. Melissa Smith
              May 13, 2015

              Well that’s awesome to have an answer. You’re absolutely right, now the next thing to work out is how to fix it! Your vet should have some good ideas on how to proceed, once the test results are in. Don’t be afraid to ask him questions — he’ll expect it. I used to make lists of them before I even got to the office so that I wouldn’t forget anything. Never be afraid that your questions are stupid or inconsequential. I used to literally call my vet and ask “Is this poop too big!?” Trust me, it’s better to have the answers than to wonder.

  8. Karina
    May 25, 2015

    Hiii we have a small tea cup chihuaha. She hears someone in the kitchen and runs to sniff around to pick up anything of the floor and eat it. I always scare her off tell her to go. I dont like her in the kitchen.cause anything can happend she can get stepped on. Burned or even might eat something thats not good for her. But she never listens and keeps doing it And also she watches everyone eat. I dislike that. Ive never had any inside pets. SHe is a first. But ive met a few who are trained to look away. I would like to learn more about that.

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      May 25, 2015

      Hi Karina! Your Chihuahua sounds adorable! It’s smart for you to be concerned about her safety in the kitchen. Not only could she eat something that is bad for her but the kitchen is often a central place in the house with a lot of activity. I would recommend that you pick up a baby gate at a local store or online. Many of them are designed to work with pressure so you wouldn’t need to screw anything into your walls. Where your Chihuahua is small, you wouldn’t need one that is heavy duty. (I had to get a five foot metal gate for my German Shepherd!) This will prevent her from entering the kitchen when you do not want her to be in there.
      Other options include setting up a room for her outside of the main traffic areas or getting her a small crate to use for when she needs to be kept out of harm’s way.
      Training a dog is similar whether you are dealing with a Chihuahua or a Great Dane — you need to get the message across that one behavior is unacceptable and that this is how you want her to act.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

shares