As a golden retriever owner, you may sometimes wonder why your dog never seems satisfied with food and always finds space for extra treats, no matter the size.
This may be more obvious if you have other dog breeds that do not seem to eat as much as your Golden Retriever.
Research has shown that a gene in Retrievers tends to make them eat more, making them more likely to be overweight and obese, which could allow for certain diseases.
This characteristic feature in your dog may make you wonder if frequent hunger is normal and if you should always satisfy these cravings.
Read on to learn more about dealing with your dog’s need for more food.
Signs that my golden retriever needs more food
Dogs, particularly Golden Retrievers, are not shy about letting you know they need more food. With a single glance at your dog, you can tell they are screaming, “more food, please.”
You may have served your dog a seemingly large portion of its meal, yet they show some signs to tell you they are still hungry. Some of your dog’s hunger signs may include the following:
Pacing around you while you eat
When your dog looks at you keenly or gets restless around you while you have a plate of food on your table or lap, that may be your dog’s way of telling you they need some more food.
Finishing food hurriedly
Another sign your dog’s desires are not being satisfied is when your dog rushes to finish a serving of food quickly.
Your dog could be rushing because they can’t wait to have more; hence, they hurriedly eat their food and expect you to provide more.
Looks to you for more
After giving your dog the first serving of food, they may look for you to put more food into their dish, especially after rushing through the first.
Why is my Golden Retriever always hungry?
You can tell your dog is always food motivated. You can get them to sit, dig, fetch or perform any physical activity as long as a food reward is in place.
You sometimes wonder if you are not doing enough feeding them, and sometimes this might be the case. However, there are other reasons your dog may be eating more than usual.
There are several biological backings behind your dog’s need for more food. The common ones are the presence of a particular gene variant in dogs, especially in retrievers, the aging process in dogs, and the reaction to certain medications.
- Presence of a gene variant:
Scientific studies have checked the relationship between a dog’s overeating tendencies and the gene Pre-Opiomelanocortin (POMC) in a dog’s DNA.
While studies have not been conclusive regarding whether this POMC gene causes Golden Retrievers to eat more than usual, the research established a relationship between the copies of the gene variant present and the food motivation level of dogs.
The POMC gene helps the brain regulate appetite, and when there is a deletion in the gene sequence (that is, the gene sequence is not complete), the rate of regulation is reduced, and the dog may never get the signal that it has eaten enough.
Hence, your Golden Retriever may be more food-inclined because of a deletion in the POMC gene sequence, making it difficult to receive the signal to stop eating.
- Aging processes in dogs:
Just like humans, when dogs grow older, their physical activity level reduces due to weakened bones and reduced strength.
Although this should mean eating less, since there’s not much work being done—the opposite could happen.
Since there’s less running around and more sleeping time, it’s not surprising the only other thing on their mind is food.
- Reaction to medications:
If your dog is on medications for any medical condition, one reaction that might arise can be the constant feeling of hunger your dog might be experiencing.
Certain medications may increase the rate of digestion or absorption of foods, making it seem like your dog hasn’t eaten.
They are not being well-fed
Another reason it might seem like your Golden Retriever never gets enough food is they are not getting enough nutrients.
Lack of nutrients can be because they are getting small portions or because their meals do not contain enough nutrients to sustain them.
Even if you feed your dog large portions every meal, these foods may not be nutritionally adequate.
Golden Retrievers, especially young ones, are highly active. So, they tend to expend a lot of energy on their daily physical activities (this is why people love them–they are hardly dull).
However, to keep fit, they must take in as much energy as they lose every day, and if this does not happen, they may always feel hungry.
Other reasons, not peculiar to Golden Retrievers, may also affect your dog’s eating pattern.
The onset of illnesses/diseases
Certain diseases can cause your dog to experience increased levels of hunger.
Sudden changes in your dog’s response to food, such as becoming more restless and unable to exercise control around food, may result from diabetes, hyperthyroidism, inflammation of the digestive system, and Cushing’s disease. Hunger pangs, restlessness, and fatigue can show that your dog needs to be checked by a vet.
As with humans, psychological changes in dogs can lead to physical conditions like increased hunger levels.
Something as simple as moving to a new home, adopting a new dog, or staying away from your dog for long hours might cause psychological stress.
This can lead them to experience changes in digestive levels, which could increase feelings of hunger.
Other signs of psychological stress in your dog are constant pacing, frequent urination (or urinating in unusual places), and destructive behaviors.
Another reason your dog might be eating more than usual could be pregnancy. During pregnancy, dogs experience hormonal changes to facilitate the growth of their puppy/puppies.
These changes in your dog could cause an increase in the need for nutrients and energy usually obtained from food.
How to deal with my dog’s frequent need for food
If your dog has been experiencing certain body changes, usually expressed in their need or desire for more food, you may wonder how to handle them.
The first thing to do is to understand why the change is happening, which the above section has covered; then you can proceed to take steps to handle the situation by
- Making adequate nutrition important:
Your dog’s nutritional needs are essential for healthy living. Ensure you stick to meal plans that place the utmost importance on providing enough nutrients for healthy growth and development.
You do not have to give large portions of food to your dog; moderate quantity and high nutrient content should be the goal with each meal.
You can speak to your vet to help you evaluate the dietary recommendations needed per day. This will ensure your dog is well-fed.
Note: Recommended dietary intake is only effective if your dog is healthy (with no underlying health condition)
- Planned physical activities:
A consequence that may result from your Golden Retriever’s constant need for food is obesity. It is rare to see a Golden Retriever that is underweight, as they are always eating.
To help reduce the risk of obesity and its consequent illnesses in your dog, you should encourage planned exercises like taking your dog on a walk to the park or jumping workouts.
These activities ensure that energy intake from food is balanced by energy expenditure.
- Making adjustments to feeding habits:
Sometimes, the problem could be with the way dogs are being fed. If it is the norm for you to give them treats at every opportunity, it might be difficult for your dog to resist the temptation of food.
You can show tough love by reducing the frequency of snacks, which will go a long way in helping your dog lead a healthy life.
Should I deny my Golden retriever food?
While overfeeding your Golden Retriever every time they indicate they are hungry might not be appropriate for your dog’s health, you should not underfeed them, either.
People love Golden Retrievers because of how trainable they are; you can take advantage of this and train them to eat only when necessary.
Once you have determined their daily dietary needs, stick with this and form a habit of snacking only when it is “snack time.”
If only we could ask Golden Retrievers why they always want more food. While it is not yet scientifically possible to do so, there are signs your dog has been showing to tell you they need more food.
Whether or not you should succumb to these requests depends on why your dog needs more food. For Golden Retrievers, the cause could be genes or the desire to keep their mouth busy.
Whatever the case is, it is crucial that your dog is well-fed and remains active. Doing these things will significantly increase your dog’s lifespan.