With very few exceptions, dogs are very opportunistic when it comes to food, and are always in the mood for a meal. Unlike cats and humans, dogs don’t moderate their own food intake very well or simply stop eating when they are full-which is why dogs as a whole are so prone to obesity, and cannot be trusted to free-feed.
Dogs are also very good at pulling off a convincing starving waif expression, and most dogs have no compunction about begging or taking food unless they are trained not to, and they have a whole repertoire of expressions and actions designed to trick humans into feeding them or giving them a snack.
When it comes to scavenging for food, dogs also excel-whether that means finding the smallest dropped crumb under the dining table, or managing to home in on a few dropped crisps on the other side of the park.
Most dog owners are all too aware of how opportunistic dogs are about finding food and eating absolutely anything-but it is a constant question among dog owners who want to know why their dogs always seem to be hungry and ready to eat, even if they have just finished a meal.
In this article, we will answer the question of why dogs are always hungry, what drives their food obsession, and how come they are so food oriented. Read on to learn more.
Assuming that your dog is fed an appropriate amount of food per day and this is split into two or preferably three separate meals, the chances are that your dog is only genuinely hungry for a short while just before each meal-as we all are when we are at the furthest point from our last meal and ready to eat again.
This means that unless your dog is on a diet or has a health problem that increases their appetite (more on this later on) they are not actually hungry at all-so why do they behave as if they are?
So, if your dog is not actually hungry and has never had to go hungry nor worry about where their next meal is coming from, why do they act as if they are hungry all the time and always keep an eye out for things they can eat?
The answer to these questions comes down to evolution. Whilst dogs have been domesticated and lived alongside of humans who feed them for millennia, their origins as wild hunter-scavengers still drive their actions and behaviours, as an instinctive trait that reflects the historical lifestyles of wild dogs.
As hunter-scavengers, wild dogs had to be highly opportunistic and always on the lookout for food in order to ensure that they could get enough food to maintain themselves. Hunting and scavenging for food are unreliable in that one day, there might be plenty to eat and another, there may be nothing, which means that dogs evolved to eat whenever the chance arose, and never turned down a meal when food is plentiful, to make up for the leaner times.
These strongly ingrained evolutionary traits that helped wild dogs to survive are still present in our modern pet dogs-regardless of breed, type or background.
The drive to hoard food and eat when the chance arises means that even today, domestic dogs prioritise food and work hard to get as much of it as possible, even when well fed and even significantly overweight.
This means that dogs will keep eating past the point of fullness and in some cases, try to hide, hoard or bury food that they can’t manage, to eat later when there is nothing else on offer. Also, during the warmer months of the year when food was more plentiful in the wild, dogs would eat as much as they could to build up their fat stores to see them through the winter, when food is harder to find.
While all dog breeds are food obsessed to a degree and few dogs will refuse a treat or a snack-and if there’s been a mix-up at home and two people both think it is their turn to feed the dog and so, the dog gets fed twice, you will probably never know this unless it comes up in conversation, as your dog will likely be as keen to eat their bonus meal as they were their first!
This means that it is very easy for dogs to pile on the pound and become obese, and for some of the most food-obsessed breeds like the Labrador retriever, more dogs of the breed in the UK are overweight to some degree than are at a healthy weight!
It is important to bear in mind that obesity can lead to a range of health problems in dogs-but there are also a number of health problems that can in themselves lead to the dog developing an almost insatiable appetite. These include hyperthyroidism and diabetes, which can both have a significant impact on your dog’s health, but that can be managed with medication.
This means that if your dog suddenly seems to be a lot hungrier than normal or if their attitudes to food have changed, it is worth getting them checked out by the vet, just in case.