Is My Dog Hungry or Greedy? Signs of a Hungry Dog
There are dogs that know how to beg whenever you’re enjoying a snack or a sumptuous feast at the dining table. And while it is tempting to give in to these subtle cues from your beloved pet, it’s an absolute must that you have to hold back. Veteran pet owners can differentiate a dog that is hungry from one that is greedy. For newbie canine owners, however, it may be a hit-or-miss kind of thing. Regardless, there are several ways you can determine if your dog’s incessant begging behavior at the dinner table is the product of canine greed or is an authentic distress signal coming from its tummy. Here’s how to tell if your dog is indeed hungry or just plain greedy.
Eating More Than the Dog’s Recommended Calorie Intake
One of the very first things you may notice is that your hound may need more food than what you are giving it. In such a case, it is important to take a look at your dog’s recommended dietary allowance on an everyday basis.
Most pet parents adhere to what pet food manufacturers put in their packaging. For every pound of body weight, you’re supposed to provide a certain measure of the pet food. This often comes in terms of cups. What many fail to realize is that these “measurements” are in the general sense. It is not specific to your dog.
For example, neutered or spayed pets often require fewer calories than intact dogs. The same is true for hounds that are less active than others. But if you try looking at the “feeding recommendations” of the pet food, you won’t see any of these “factors”. Pet food manufacturers do not put such considerations in their packaging; unless, you get a specialty diet for canines.
That is why it’s imperative that you determine if you are giving your hound the right amounts of calories for its everyday needs.
Let’s put up an example, shall we?
If you have a 50-lb intact dog, you will need to compute for its Resting Energy Requirements first. After computing for the RER, you will then multiply this by the factor for an intact dog. For this example, a 50-lb dog should have an RER of 728.63 calories per day. We’ll then multiply this by a factor of 1.8 to get 1,311.5 calories per day.
The feeding guidelines on the packaging of a particular brand of pet food say that this dog should receive 2 cups at 468 calories per cup. This is only equivalent to 936 calories. By the way, the feeding recommendation is for canines weighing 50 lbs to 70 lbs.
For this particular dog, it is very obvious that it is not receiving enough calories to last the whole day. To be precise, it lacks 375.5 calories. Let us say you’re giving 2.5 cups for this hound. You are giving it 1,170 calories per day. It would still be deficient by 141.5 calories.
It is no wonder that your pet is at the foot of your dining table begging for you to give it food.
Eating More Fillers Than Proteins
Look at your dog food packaging again. Focus on the list of ingredients. At the very least, you should see a named animal protein as the very first ingredient. These ingredients are listed according to their proportion to the whole pet food product. The first 5 ingredients are very important.
It is unfortunate that there are canine food products that put plant ingredients as the principal ingredient. There are also those that put an animal protein as the first ingredient and follow it with 4 different types of plant products.
Plant-based ingredients are great for providing dogs with minerals and vitamins as well as antioxidant phytochemicals. However, they are also rich in carbohydrates. While carbs provide dogs with an instant source of energy, these don’t last long. Within a couple of hours, the dog’s cells will already use up most of the carbs.
On the other hand, if the pet food contains more protein, the hound will feel fuller longer. This is because protein has a satiating effect. Protein is a very large molecule and it takes a lot of time for the canine’s digestive system to process it. As such, it can provide longer-lasting energy for your pet.
Hence, if your dog is begging food at the dinner table all the time, try looking at the ingredients of its pet food. Chances are high that the food you’re giving your pet has more carbohydrate fillers than what the dog needs.
An Increase in Physical Activity without a Commensurate Increase in Calorie Intake
Another sign that your dog is hungry and not greedy is a noticeable increase in its physical activity. Try to reflect on how much exercise your dog has been getting in the past. Is it able to complete about 5 or 10 minutes of walking twice a day? How about now? Did you ramp up your everyday walks to 30 minutes or maybe 1 hour? How about its playtime? Did you increase the length of its playtime activities as well?
Whenever there is physical activity, the body will require energy. We know that food supplies the energy that dogs need. If you increase its physical activity, then you can expect that it will use up its energy stores a lot faster.
Let’s try to revise our example above. Let’s say the 50-lb dog is a working type of canine with a normal level of physical activity. This means we need to multiply its RER value of 728.63 calories by 2.0. We can then conclude that this hound will need about 1,457.26 calories per day.
Let us also say that you’ve increased its physical activities to moderate intensity. This has a factor of 3.0. Hence, multiplying 728.63 calories by 3.0 will give us 2,185.89 calories.
If you are still giving this working dog 1,457.26 calories per day despite the fact that it should already be receiving 2,185.89 calories, then you know that this dog is going to get real hungry.
We are only demonstrating the necessary changes in the dog’s calorie intake every time there is an increase in its physical activity. Remember that the muscles will require more fuel with an increase in activity. As such, increasing your dog’s food intake is also a must.
Presence of a Medical Condition
One possible sign that your dog is hungry is the presence of a medical condition. Unfortunately, you need the professional help of a veterinarian to help determine the exact cause of a canine’s seemingly insatiable appetite.
Intestinal parasitism or worm infestation can lead your dog to feel hungrier than usual. This is because intestinal worms have a knack for robbing the pet of nutrients that are supposed to be for its cells and tissues. These parasites wait in the dog’s intestines. As food passes and get digested, these parasites eat the nutrients. The pet’s intestines don’t get to absorb these nutrients into the blood. As such, there can be nutrient deficiency if not malnutrition.
There are also medical problems that can rev up the hound’s metabolism. Whenever you increase the metabolic rate, you are also increasing the rate at which energy gets utilized. Hence, if your dog is eating the right amounts of the right dog food, it will still be insufficient. This is because its body requires more energy to account for the increase in metabolism.
An example of a disease that can speed up the pet’s metabolism is hyperthyroidism. An excess production of thyroid hormones increases the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. In other words, these macronutrients get used up at a very rapid pace. Hence, the only way to compensate is for your canine friend to ask for more food.
Physical Signs of Excessive Eating as a Sign of Greed
You will know that your dog is not hungry, but greedy if you notice it getting overweight. This is one of the surest signs that your dog’s begging behavior is more about greed than genuine hunger.
We already said that food supplies us and our canine friends with the energy we need to last the whole day. If there is any excess in this energy, it gets stored in the muscles, the liver, and underneath the skin. A good percentage of this stored energy is within the body cavity of the dog. They call it visceral fat.
The point is that this excess energy can contribute to canine obesity. You may no longer see the classic “waist” in your dog. It may already have difficulty moving because of the extra weight. And if you weigh your pet, you may find that it is already more than 30% above the upper limit of what’s considered normal for its breed and age.
An overweight or obese canine that never lets up begging at the dinner table is greedy, not hungry.
All living organisms require the right amounts of energy for them to function at their optimum levels. If they cannot meet this, then they go hungry. If there’s excess energy and they still beg for food, you can say your canine friend is greedy.