Let’s face it, most dogs love to eat. Whether it’s breaking into the cupboard where the bulk dry food is kept, chancing upon an overflowing rubbish bin during a party or wolfing down the cat’s dinner as well as his own, when presented with an opportunity to gobble down food, many dogs just won’t be able to say no.
Why overeating is bad
Us humans might experience nothing more than indigestion from a big meal, but when a dog overeats it can cause more sinister problems. After a big feed, fluids from other areas of the dog’s body are absorbed into the stomach to deal with all that food. This can lead to dehydration, which can have serious consequences for our furry friends. Eating a large meal can also cause a condition called gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), in which the stomach expands and twists. This can be fatal to your pet. Symptoms of both dehydration and GDV include panting, drooling and dry retching.
Why your dog overeats
If you notice your dog seems hungrier than usual there could be a few reasons. First take a look at what you are feeding your pooch. If he’s not getting the nutrition he needs from his current diet, he will go looking for more. Try him out on a premium dog food or a supplement to give him some extra nutrients. Some medications can cause a change in appetite. If your dog is on new medication, check with your vet about possible side effects. If your dog is a girl, is there a chance she’s pregnant? Certain medical conditions such as diabetes can also cause hunger, while intestinal parasites may also affect appetite. If you are at all concerned about your dog’s enthusiasm for food, always check with your vet about possible causes.
What about eating fast?
Some pets wolf down their food, but that’s normal, isn’t it? After all, as pack animals, isn’t it instinct to eat as much as possible, as quickly as possible? If your dog was raised with other puppies, competition at mealtimes was probably instilled in him at an early age. But eating quickly can be harmful. For a start, eating quickly can often mean the dog is eating too much, especially if he shares meal times with other pets. Eating too quickly can lead to choking and this kind of greedy behaviour can also cause problems – quick eaters can often be possessive about food, leading to aggression towards other family members who come too close. So what can you do for your quick-as-a-flash eater? Try this – get yourself a large food bowl and place a smaller bowl inside it. Place the food in the space between the large and smaller bowl – your dog will have to take smaller nibbles to get the food. Check out your local pet shop for other bowls and feeders that force your dog to slow down. You can also take your dog’s daily food allowance and give it to him throughout the day. If these don’t work or if your dog still seems anxious to eat quickly, make an appointment to see your vet to rule out any medical causes.
Whether due to temperament, breed or experiences early in life, many dogs are inclined to eat too much. It’s our job as owners to ensure they don’t. Keep rubbish bins in cupboards and food sources on high shelves to ensure your precious pooch doesn’t harm himself by trying to get too much of a good thing.