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Dogs have a particular facial expression that humans can’t resist. You sit down to eat and suddenly your dog is by your side, begging for a bite of your meal. At this point, it becomes really a problem knowing if your dog is truly hungry or just trying to score a treat. Smart owners have learned to tell the difference between a hungry dog and simple greed.

A large percentage of the world dog population are either overweight obese or starved. Since dog nutrition needs differ widely by size, age, breed, and genetics, it can be difficult for dog owners to determine just how much food is ideal for their canine companions.

It is essential to know the required calorie intake of your dog. The basic guidelines state that you should feed puppies three times a day while adult dogs of small to large breeds should be fed twice. Once a day will be sufficient for large and giant dogs, and senior dogs should be given one or two small meals daily.

How Much to Feed Them

Experts say to feed your dogs twice a day, about 8 to 12 hours apart. The amount of food they need depends on lots of things, including their:

  • Size
  • Age
  • Activity level
  • Breed
  • General health

Your vet can calculate the number of calories your dog needs each day. Then divide that in half, check the calories on your dog’s food, and measure out a proper portion for breakfast and dinner.

Feeding Schedule

A dog that is regularly given a bowl of food once a day may not be considered a hungry dog. Provided of course that the food given to them has the calorie they require. An adult dog can survive without food for two to three days with healthy dogs, even surviving for five days. So if you missed a day of feeding, your pooch might not be starving. 

It is also best to stick to a regular feeding schedule. It is easy to overfeed or underfeed your dog when feeding times are shifting. With an established schedule, when you missed a feeding time, chances are your hound is truly hungry. 

Signs of a Hungry Dog

A well Defined Rib Cage

One easy way to identify a famished dog is if you see a well-defined rib cage. You can feel the rib cage of a dog, but the definition of each rib should not be visible. An excellent rule to follow is that if you see ribs, then your dog is hungry, and if you don’t feel the ribs, then you might be overfeeding him.

Nutritional deficiencies

Cheap commercial dog food has fillers that can make dogs feel satisfied after a meal. However, this satisfaction does not last long, and you will soon observe them looking for another treat. These fillers add calories to the dog food, but have little nutrition and are digested quickly. Often, the craving you see in your dog can be brought upon by low-quality food.

Also if the food doesn’t provide sufficient levels of needed nutrients, your dog will keep eating until their body gets what it needs. 

Movement and Exercise

The movement uses energy, and energy expended means a dog needs nutrients to replenish it. Regular exercise affects digestion, too. A healthy dog eating wet food can move their bowels within 4 hours after eating. The same amount of dry food might take 8 hours. Each of these times to evacuation is affected by motility or the operation of the muscles in the digestive tract. A dog that exercises regularly moves and processes the food he eats more efficiently than a sedentary dog.

Rule Out Illness

A nutritional deficiency, an allergy, or even a serious illness could also be the reason why your dog is obsessing over food. Dogs have a funny way of knowing when their bodies are missing nutrients, which is sometimes the reason for them eating their own excrement, rocks, and dirt. It is not far-fetched to the thing that a dog might also beg for additional food to cover these deficiencies, but something slightly more concerning may be an underlying illness.

If you have concerns, you will want to bring it up with a trusted veterinarian, to have them rule out any health problems that might be causing your pooch to never feel full.

How To Teach Your Dog To Let You Know She’s Hungry

At mealtime, stand by your dog’s empty food bowl. Wait for her to approach it. Most likely, she’ll sniff it to see if anything is there.

When she approaches the bowl, mark her in your usual way, by saying “good girl!” or clicking a clicker. Then, place one small morsel of food in her bowl.

Continue doing this with her entire meal. She’ll probably stare at you. Wait until she makes some movement towards the bowl. She’ll try different things to figure out what causes you to deliver the food. You may encourage her to tap the bowl with her paw by tapping or pretending to scratch at it yourself.

If your dog is large enough to carry her bowl, you can have her hold it in her mouth for a moment, then mark and reward. Then, gradually encourage her to walk towards you while holding the bowl, just a few steps at first. A more complicated “feed me” signal will probably take a few sessions to master.

Tips on keeping your dog full

With all of the above in mind, here are some handy tips to combat a hungry hound and keep their bellies full:

  • Feed them nutritious meals at regular times
  • Always have water available
  • Never feed them scraps off the table and promoting bad habits
  • Take them to the vet if their hunger is sudden and out of the ordinary


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