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Part of being a dog owner is learning how to resist those big begging puppy eyes whenever there is food around. Some dogs beg more than others, but almost every person with a dog can testify to no longer being able to eat anything without getting a sudden canine company. It is almost as if they know; even before you have even decided to go get a snack, and then they are standing there – looking at you, begging for a bite.
Learning to say no is tough but necessary, as overfeeding can lead to obesity and excess weight. Carrying too much weight around can cause strain to bones and joints, and increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes, just like with humans, and that is not something you want for your furry friend. How to know, though, if your pup is just being greedy, or if he’s hungry?
Quality Dog Food
The first step is to have a look at what you feed your dog during the day. Is your fur friend getting enough food? It is important to feed a quality product; as cheap low-quality brands use fillers that provide little nutrition and that will only fill your dog up momentarily. Choose a dog food with plenty of protein; something you recognize by checking the ingredient list on the back of the bag or can.
The food should have at least one or two meat ingredients (no animal by-products) listed first, or there might not be enough protein in their food to keep them going for a whole day.
Another thing that separates a good dog food from a dog food of poor quality is the presence of artificial color, flavor, and preservatives. You don’t want any of these in the food your pup consumes, so keep an eye out for an all-natural product. Whether your dog is hungry or not, even after having been fed the recommended account, could depend entirely on the quality of the food he or she is consuming.
Revise the Quantity
Most dog food products will come with instructions for how much to fed during the day; usually depending on the dog’s weight, and it will tell you how much food your dog needs to stay full. Follow these guidelines unless your veterinarian instructs you otherwise, as the correct quantity depends on the food brand and the quality ingredients. A great diet dog food can be issued if you’ve given in to your pup too many times.
Low-quality dog food will almost always need to be fed in larger quantities to satisfy your pup’s nutritional needs, while a quality product requires a smaller amount. If you are feeding a quality dog food and if you are following the feeding instructions properly – then it is likely that your dog is just being greedy.
Observe Physical Signs
Now, there are very simple ways to see if your dog is actually being underfed. You should never be able to see your dog’s ribs, but you should feel them when pressing lightly on the side of the ribcage. Should you see the ribs from just looking down at your fur friend – then there might be something wrong. If you have a skinny dog that constantly begs for snacks between meals, then he or she could be hungry and need a portion increase and possibly also a trip to the vet.
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. Worms, for example, are known for stealing nutrients from the body of their host, which could both result in unexplainable weight loss and a sense of constant hunger. Talk to your veterinarian before experimenting with dewormers and such.
So, Your Dog is Just Greedy – Now What?
Once you have gone through the steps of ruling out an underlying health problem, established that the food you are feeding is high-quality and double checked that your dog is getting the right amount – then it is time to accept that you have a greedy fur ball on your hands.
Perhaps you have given in so many times that your pooch has learned that begging pays off, and if so, it is possible that you are the original problem rather than your dog. Work on setting boundaries by not giving in to those puppy eyes (it is hard, but it can be done), and with time the dog will learn not to beg for food, snacks, and scraps.
If you don’t want to give up snacking entirely, consider creating a snack routine where you give your dog a healthy treat at a specific time during the day; perhaps right before bedtime or in the early evening when you sit down to watch TV. Dogs thrive when having a set routine, and they will be looking forward to that moment throughout the day, while also learning not to beg for a taste of what you are eating.
Should you still worry your best fur friend might be hungry, or if you want to give more treats throughout the day, consider light and healthy snacks such as carrots, celery, and canned pumpkin? These can also be mixed in with the meals to increase the volume and the sense of fullness, without a big calorie increase.
You should also make sure you feed your dog more than once a day, by splitting up the daily portion in two or more smaller portions, as it could help regulate their apparent hunger along with their bad habits of begging. Dogs love food, there is no doubt about it, and you might never fully escape those irresistible puppy eyes looking up at you every time you eat. On the other hand, would you really want to?