Why is my puppy constantly hungry? Essential Tips

I Can Easily See My Puppy’s Ribs

If you are able to easily see your puppy’s ribs, then they likely need to be fed more. Don’t make the mistake of way over feeding your puppy, just make sure you are feeding them on the higher side of what their daily needs are.

If your puppy is not gaining weight, they may have a medical issue. If this is the case, take them to their vet for an examination.

Assess whether they’re eating the right amount

Your dog ate his allotted food, and then he looks up and stares at you, giving you a face that essentially translates to: “Are you kidding me?!” The first step is to figure out if you’re feeding them the right amount, which entails taking your pup’s daily calorie needs into account by assessing factors like their age and activity level. Want a short cut? Do a weight check: “If they’re the correct body weight, then they’re eating the right amount,” says Welborn. Worried he’s underweight? If you can visibly see your dog’s ribs, then he can use more food.

Daily Food Needs for Large and Small Dog Breeds

A small dog is one that has an adult weight of below twenty pounds. A large dog is going to be anything greater than twenty pounds.

Here is how their feeding schedule will differ:

Large dog breeds should be able to eat hard kibble by around the 10-week mark. Smaller breeds may not be ready for hard food until the 14-week mark. If you find your puppy is struggling to eat the harder food, you can always add some water to soften it, or add a wet food topper.

A large breed puppy like a Doberman, Collie, Labrador, Golden Retriever, or Great Dane, will need approximately the following daily needs:

Weight Amount Per Day
5-10 Pounds 1-2 cups
10-20 Pounds 2-3 cups
20-40 Pounds 3-5 cups

Remember that these are averages and guidelines. Your specific dog may need more or less. Watch for any signs of obesity or under-feeding and adjust accordingly.

These will include Pugs, Yorkshire Terriers, Miniature Poodles, French Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and of course Chihuahuas.

Here is a charted guideline of approximately how much food they will need.

Weight Amount Per Day
0-5 Pounds .75-1 cups
5-10 Pounds 1-2 cups
10-20 Pounds 2-3 cups

You may note that these are not too different than large breed puppies. A growing puppy needs a good amount of food regardless of the breed. Also, large breeds are especially susceptible to joint problems if overfed, so you do want to be careful with that.

Perhaps you have a working dog. There are diet changes for working and non-working dog.

Why Dogs Act Hungry All The Time (5 KEY Reasons And What To Do)

Many dogs act as though their stomachs are bottomless; feed them their whole meal and they will follow you around looking for scraps. While this is a plus for positive reinforcement training, it’s hard to not wonder why your dog acts like he is starving all the time. But is there even an answer to the question? A Veterinarian and Dog Trainer weigh in below with some possible explanations for your dog’s insatiable appetite.

Dr. Jules Benson, VP of Veterinary Services at Petplan Pet Insurance says, “typically, the insatiable hunger can be attributed to canine biology, but it also can be a warning sign for a medical issue such as diabetes or Cushing’s disease.”

He explains that a “dog’s eat when food is presented mentality” may be because of their wild ancestry. “Looking at the domestic dog’s nearest wild relative, the grey wolf, they are adapted to a feast-or-famine diet and can go many days without fresh prey,” Dr. Benson explains. “They achieve this through eating large amounts when food is available, food caching (may be analogous to burying bones in the garden!) and scavenging (watch out for the kitchen trash can!).”

So it’s possible your dog is not actually hungry, but eating whenever food is offered in case you stop offering it.

For the lazy lab that has been a house dog from birth, this may be a hard explanation to swallow, since he has not been wild even and neither has any of his nearest kin. And, if many of their other instinctual traits have been bred out of them (for example herding dogs that no longer have the instinct to herd) it could be argued that this one would be as well, though it does have its benefits to humans. As aforementioned, it certainly makes training eaiser.

Dr. Benson also mentions that an always hungry dog could have a medical problem causing them to always feel hungry.

“While some dogs just simply like to indulge in food, sometimes an increased appetite is the sign of an underlying health issue,” he explains.

If you notice your dog is eating more than usual, consult your veterinarian to be sure that their feeding frenzies are not the result of a more serious health concern.

Robin Bennett, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, author, and consultant, suggests we may have actually caused this behavior in our dogs.

“Most of the dogs I see act hungry because they have been reinforced for acting that way.” Bennett offers. “It’s hard to resist those big brown dog eyes when a dog looks at their owner…so owners give their dog a treat. This reinforces the food seeking behavior in the dog, so that it gets stronger in the dog. And since the dog eats, the owner feels that the dog really was hungry. It’s an interesting cycle.”

Bennett notes that even if you don’t train your dog with food, you are most like “guilty” of giving them a treat when they “ask for it” through begging, staring at you, etc.

“In this sense, I think dogs often train us to feed them,” Bennett adds. “My own dog is able to do his ‘it’s time to eat act’ with each member of the family at night and we’ve fallen for it enough that we actually have to confirm with one another whether or not he has been fed. He’s a smart dog.”

Based in Tustin, Calif., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and works as a full time trainer. She also owns her own custom pet products company, A Fairytail House, where she makes personalized collars, leashes, beds, keepsake pillows and blankets, and anything else your imagine can think up. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs.