Puppies can be very impressive sometimes. Have you recently realized that your small puppy tends to eat more than you would expect out of something of its relatively small size?
Anything and everything that you place in front of it seems to disappear in a matter of minutes, leaving on an adorable face looking up for more.
In fact, your growing pup seems to be able to eat constantly without taking much of a break at all!
This is very cute at first, but after the third consecutive bowl of food in one night most dog owners start to wonder, “Do puppies know when to stop eating…?”
This might come as a surprise, but the problem could actually be you and not your puppy! At such a young age, most puppies don’t know when they are already full and will keep eating and eating as long as there is food available.
Of course, this isn’t an ideal situation, as overeating can result in digestive distress symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, bloating, and even serious conditions such as Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV).
In most cases, it will be up to you as a responsible dog owner to control the exact amount of food that your puppy receives each day. Even though it can be hard to turn down their famed “puppy eyes”, it’s the right thing to do for their optimal health and growth!
- Why Is My Puppy So Obsessed With Food?
- Do Newborn Puppies Know When To Stop Eating?
- How Many Cups Of Food Should I Feed My Puppy?
- Is It Normal For Puppies To Stop Eating?
- Do Dogs Know When To Stop Drinking Water?
- In Summary
It can be quite jarring to see your puppy nosedive into food every opportunity it gets. Dry food, wet food, dog food, human food- it doesn’t seem to matter as there is never any chance of your pup leaving any food behind!
It can get to a point where bystanders may begin to think that you’re not feeding your beloved pet enough.
However, nothing could be further from the truth, right? As owners, we always try to make sure that they receive a well-balanced, nutritious bowl at meal times.
A puppy’s obsession with food can usually be pretty easily and logically explained. They feel hungry all the time, and so they eat! Easy enough, right?
This differs from the instances when your puppy tries to eat everything in sight- even the plainly inedible such as wood, grass and rocks. This is an altogether different condition known as pica, which I have explored previously in this article here.
After spending a significant amount of time researching on the internet, here are the top three possible reasons I have found for a puppy’s obsession with food:
In fact, an insufficient supply of food does top the list of most likely reasons for a puppy’s undying obsession for food.
Puppies are just like ordinary human beings when it comes to food and sustenance. Just as you would likely become obsessed with food if you feel you are not getting enough, dogs also feel the same.
Actually, they would probably feel it to an even greater degree since they are entirely reliant on their humans for their daily meals! Thus, the psychological bottom line is that one is not sure of when next they are going to get enough food.
The appropriate response for both people and dogs in this case is to eat in excess in order to sustain themselves during potential periods of lack.
When you don’t give your puppy enough food, it will as a result become obsessed with the very sight of it. The simple fix is then to increase the food intake for your puppy until it eats enough to satisfy its nutritional needs!
However, this still remains an exercise in balance as you will need to be careful not to overfeed the puppy. At some point it will have eaten an optimal amount, and any extra will be unnecessary and will only contribute to bad overeating habits and weight gain.
Some puppies love the taste of chicken. Others are particularly partial to lamb. There may even be a select few that go gaga for grain-free!
The point being made here is that puppies sometimes have favorite foods that they can never seem to get enough of, no matter the amount that is provided. Again, just as with humans, different puppies are attracted to different foods.
If your dog has shown a recent obsession for food and meal time, check the packet to see what the ingredients are. For the next meal, try switching to a puppy food with different main ingredients and see how your puppy reacts.
If it doesn’t absolutely devour the food like before, you’ll know the reason why!
Unfortunately, dogs and cats are susceptible to a variety of harmful worms that are ever present in the environment.
These worms can include such luminaries as the hookworm, roundworm, whipworm and tapeworm, and these parasites can interfere with the normal eating habits of your puppy.
When dogs are infested with worms, they may appear to be malnourished and show a constant desire for more food. This is because the parasites inside their bodies are stealing away valuable nutrition and not allowing the dog to feel full.
While the presence of worms in a puppy may cause an obsession for food, the solution in this scenario is not to provide more food. Instead, you have to go straight to the root of the problem and deworm your puppy to safeguard its overall health and wellbeing.
There is no real way for a newborn puppy to know when to stop eating. Instead, it is your responsibility to ensure that you supply only what they need at any given point.
For example, it is important to know when to start weaning the puppy, and when to transition them onto hard food.
When puppies are first born and still nursing, the mother dog will be in control of the amount of milk that her puppies are fed. At this point, nature takes over and a puppy’s life consists mostly of feeding when hungry and sleeping when satisfied.
However, there will come a point where the mother’s milk begins to run out and the puppies need to be switched onto milk replacer or weaned. This is where you as the dog owner needs to take over the welfare of the newborn puppies and provide the right amount of nutrition.
Puppies grow rapidly at this stage in life, sometimes gaining 5-10% of body weight daily.
However, feeding too much at this point in time can result in significant issues for a puppy’s delicate digestive system, causing them to shake after eating and creating problems such as constipation or a bloated belly.
Remember, the puppy is still very young and extremely new to this world! It will need time for its body to catch up, and until then it needs to be treated with the greatest care.
Additionally, exposing your puppy to too much food at the early stages of their life can result in them having an ‘expanded’ appetite for food later on.
This can make it hard for them to maintain a healthy weight as an adult dog, as it will have been accustomed from a young age to eat large quantities of food!
Yes. As you will have discovered by now, you can definitely overfeed puppies.
Overfeeding a puppy is simply serving it more food than it needs when considering its breed and ideal size.
However, you may be wondering how a dog owner is supposed to know the correct food quantity to feed your dog.
A good method is by checking the back of the food packet for feeding guidelines rather than simply eyeballing the quantity. You’d be surprised at how inaccurate our estimates often are once you establish the proper recommended amounts!
Another excellent way of finding out exactly how much you should be feeding your puppy is by consulting with your vet. Your vet will always be able to provide the best advice when it comes to the health and proper feeding of your pet.
They may also be able to recommend to you better food choices for your breed of puppy, and ingredients that you should be looking to provide to make up a balanced diet.
Many first time dog owners become very concerned over the exact amount of food they should be feeding their puppies. While a vet will be able to provide the most accurate information for your dog, here are a few factors to go into determining just how much food it might need:
The breed and gender of the puppy will play a big factor in their natural baseline requirement for food. Larger breeds will have higher nutritional needs than smaller ones.
Even within the same breed, male canines will often grow larger in size than their female counterparts. As such, it makes perfect sense that they will need more food to grow to their potential.
Therefore, if you have a male puppy, be prepared to serve more cups of food than you would for a female one!
The amount of food that you serve to your puppy should be directly proportional to its current mass.
Basic logic dictates that heavier dogs should be served more food than lighter ones. But why is this?
As a puppy gets bigger, its daily energy requirements naturally also increase. For a puppy to continue its growth into its adult size, this increase in energy expenditure needs to be compensated with additional food.
However, the amount given to your puppy at these stages should be just the right amount. Given too little, the puppy may become underweight and emancipated. Fed too much, and it will be on the road to obesity.
What does your puppy do all day long?
Does it simply lounge around the home, bathing in the sun and enjoying naps till you arrive home?
Or is it running around on a farm, chasing chickens and squirrels to their heart’s content?
The activity level of your puppy is the final determining factor when it comes to how much food you should be feeding.
Relatively active dogs need more food to maintain their energy and activity levels. This is because more activity means a faster metabolism and caloric expenditure, and a subsequent need for more food.
On the other hand, puppies who spend most of their time indoors tend to need less food. They are likely to have less of an appetite anyway given their lack of activity, and if you provide too much food it will likely go unfinished.
In these cases, it is important to always provide food with a high concentration of nutrients so that even if the puppy eats a smaller amount, it will still gain the nutrition that it needs.
As you can see, the factors above mean that the nutritional requirements of each dog is different- even if they are the same breed. Therefore, I can only give a general recommendation as to the amount of food you should be providing for a puppy.
In most cases, you will need to serve one to three small cups of correct, suitable food to your puppy. Once again, the exact amount will be dictated by the breed, current size, and activity level of the puppy. For the most accurate advice, consult your vet!
It is only normal for a puppy to stop eating if it feels full. If your puppy is at an ideal weight and is eating and reacting to food normally, then there is usually nothing to worry about if it leaves a few leftovers in its bowl!
Sometimes, a picky puppy may refuse food if it has been served for days or weeks without change. In this scenario, try switching up its menu options for a day to see whether this is the underlying reason.
However if your puppy suddenly stops eating for the day or over the span of a few days, then this is definitely not normal and should be checked out by a vet.
The loss of appetite in a puppy is otherwise called anorexia. There are many reasons that can lead to anorexia, such as if the puppy is sick, has an internal blockage, or if it has parasites.
Changes in environment or the existence of other uncomfortable external factors can also cause a poor pup to lose its appetite.
If you discover that your puppy has suddenly lost its interest in eating, you should find out the problem as quickly as possible and resolve it. Take your dog to the vet for a thorough examination if it hasn’t eaten for over 12 hours.
It is quite common for puppies to eat less during the period where they are teething, which is usually between three to six months of age.
This is due to the fact that their teeth and gums are most likely in a great deal of discomfort during this time. Teething can result in a puppy wanting to chew on things to relieve the pain more than they want to eat.
You can help to make food more appealing to your puppy at this stage in its life by adding water to its kibble. This will not only soften the food so that it is easier to eat, but will also help to release the aroma so that it is more enticing.
Once your dog has grown out its full set of teeth, it will be back to its normal ravenous self!
Unlike with food, puppies and dogs are usually pretty good with self-regulating their water intake. I have previous explored this exact topic in another article here:
Basically, most puppies will self-regulate when it comes to water and will only drink when they are thirsty. Therefore, you don’t usually need to worry that they are drinking too much water– only that they may not be drinking enough!
The only negative that I can think of when it comes to providing an unlimited amount of water to your pup is that it may be more logistically difficult to housetrain.
You will most definitely have to take your puppy outside more frequently for toilet breaks, and may need to change those potty pads more often as well. However, this can be mitigated by removing water at strategic times- such as right before bedtime.
Overall, it is a very good idea to leave a water bowl out for your puppy all day long in most cases!
So, do puppies know when to stop eating?
While some do, most won’t. Instead, they will eat, and eat, and eat, and eat… Until you stop putting food in their bowl!
This is likely due to the fact that they don’t yet understand when they are full, and may also come down to factors such as the amount and type of food supplied. Sometimes, puppies can even show obsession towards food due to carrying parasites in their bodies!
Therefore, if you find yourself in possession of a puppy with a never-ending appetite, it is up to you as a responsible dog owner to regulate its food intake. This is vital to ensure that they get all the nutrients they need while not becoming overweight or obese.
If you are not exactly sure when it comes to how much to feed your pet, don’t fret! Help is readily available in the form of your friendly neighborhood vet.
If you can’t make it into the vet’s office in the near future, you can also check the back of the puppy food package for recommended feeding guidelines.
Keep in mind that these won’t be completely accurate, as individual puppy breeds, sizes, and activity levels need to be accounted for. Still, it’s better than blindly feeding your pup and hoping for the best!
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.