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If you own a dog, you've probably asked yourself one of these questions: How can she want more after she just ate a big breakfast? Am I feeding her enough? Is she sick? Are other dogs always this hungry? Is this normal?
In most cases, the behavior is considered absolutely normal. Dogs have been carrying on about getting food from humans for millennia. In fact, one leading theory about how dogs first became domesticated claims that it was directly tied to getting at those leftovers.
So is your robust, well-fed dog really hungry or is she just acting the part of a starved dog because she has learned that it gets results?
It should come as no surprise to most owners that canines can be expert manipulators of human behavior. There are plenty of dogs who know exactly what it takes to wheedle that bit of carrot off a cutting board.
Other canine behaviorists link big dog appetites to biology, suggesting that dogs are simply listening to their gut, just like their wild cousins. Food is a limited resource, so when you can get to it, you shouldn’t stop eating because you never know if it will be your last meal for days.
Another theory states that some dogs are simply remembering what it feels like to truly starve. After all, plenty of dogs come in from the cold as rescue pets after significant periods of malnutrition and chronic lack of food.
There are some dogs who legitimately suffer from endocrine and gastrointestinal ailments that can lead to outsized appetites. Diabetes, Cushing's disease, hyperthyroidism (rare in dogs) and some pancreatic disorders are all potentially responsible for an impressive drive to ingest.
Nonetheless, a medical rationale for a “starving” dog is considered uncommon relative to the vast population of “hungry” dogs out there. However, you should never hesitate to ask your veterinarian if your hungry little hippo may be suffering from more than just a healthy appetite.
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