Jump to section

What is Increased Appetite?

Hunger and the feeling of being full after eating (satiety) are controlled by the central nervous system. Abnormalities in the CNS can cause increased appetite, as can several other factors such as stress, an underlying disease, or a tumor. Because appetite changes are so common in many illnesses and situations, diagnosing the reason for it can be a complex process. Polyphagia can indicate serious disease. Any alteration in your pet’s eating behavior should be checked by the veterinarian.

Increased appetite is known as polyphagia in veterinary terms. If your dog seems to be continuously hungry and his behavior dictates that he requires food in excess of the norm, further investigation is warranted. A visit to the veterinarian is needed in order to diagnose an underlying cause, and to determine how the insatiable appetite is affecting his weight (another important marker to canine health).

Purina Pro Plan Probiotics for Dogs

Gastrointestinal support

Shop now
advertisement image

Increased Appetite Average Cost

From 121 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,600

Symptoms of Increased Appetite in Dogs

Prompt action in dealing with an increased appetite is conducive to determining the exact cause. Polyphagia complications can range in severity. The following symptoms can indicate that your dog must be seen by the veterinarian without delay.

  • Weight changes can include both loss or gain
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequency in urination
  • Exhibiting behavior indicating constant hunger

If the polyphagia is due to an underlying disease, you may see symptoms such as listed below. Symptoms will vary depending on the cause.

  • Depression
  • Neurological signs can include pacing, circling, blindness
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Panting
  • Soft stool or diarrhea
  • Trembling
  • Vomiting or regurgitation
Types

Polyphagia can be classified as follows.

  • Primary
    • Caused by destruction of the satiety center, for example, trauma
    • There can be neurological signs of a CNS disease
  • Secondary
    • More common than primary polyphagia
    • Diseases, parasites, and diet, are considered secondary polyphagia
  • Drug Induced
    • Corticosteroids, for example, can increase food intake
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Increased Appetite in Dogs

If your canine companion is showing signs of constant hunger, the situation can be worrisome, and can often lead to very unfavorable behavior on the part of your dog. In order to return your pet to his normal state of well-being, you will want to take him to the veterinarian without delay. Causes for the increased appetite are great in number. Some are listed below.

  • A lesion in the central nervous system
  • Trauma
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Low-calorie diet
  • Overfeeding
  • Learned behavior of begging for food
  • Stress can cause your dog to increase eating habits
  • Infection
  • Continual living in a low environmental temperature
  • Pregnancy or lactation
  • Increased exercise
  • An endocrine or hormone related disease like diabetes mellitus or hyperadrenocorticism
  • Malabsorption or maldigestion of food due to illness or parasites
  • Pancreatic atrophy
  • Rate of gastric emptying
  • Cancer
  • Medications like thyroid supplements, sedatives or anticonvulsants
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Increased Appetite in Dogs

The veterinarian will, under most normal circumstances, begin with a physical examination while discussing your observations and concerns. Possible findings may be muscle wasting, alopecia (hair loss), ataxia (loss of control of bodily movements), and abdominal or hepatic enlargement.

Laboratory tests can be great indicators of why your dog seems to have an insatiable appetite. The tests can reveal various results.

  • Complete Blood Count
    • Presence of anemia will be evaluated through red blood cell count
    • An increase in white blood cells could point to intestinal parasitism or hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s Disease)
  • Serum Biochemical Profile
    • Changes to glucose, proteins and enzymes may be discovered
    • Increase in liver enzymes and alkaline phosphatase can mean Cushing’s Disease or diabetes mellitus
  • Urinalysis
    • Analysis of protein and glucose
    • There may be crystals in the urine
  • Fecal Flotation
    • This procedure is done to check for parasite eggs

Additional diagnostic imaging might be needed, in the form of a radiograph, ultrasound, CT scan or MRI.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Increased Appetite in Dogs

The treatment protocol for your canine family member will vary depending on the underlying cause of the polyphagia. The veterinarian has the knowledge to help you deal with any sort of at home therapy required for successful resolution of the appetite changes.

For example, a drug-induced increase in appetite may be indeed temporary, and will wane with time, even with the continued use of the prescribed medication.

In the instance of an apparent insatiable appetite caused by stress or learned behavior, you will receive direct advice and best practices on how to deal with the problem. The veterinary caregiver may suggest behavioral therapy for a habitual eater. A dog suffering from a stress-induced neverending desire to eat may benefit from the simple removal or reduction of the stressor. No doubt, the veterinarian will ask you to feed your dog only as per the caloric requirements to maintain the good health of your pet. Don’t be discouraged; behavioral issues take time to resolve. Patience and kindness are the best remedies.

If there is a serious underlying disease, of course, it must be dealt with and in turn, the appetite problem should also resolve. For example, diabetes mellitus will require insulin management and dietary adjustments. A parasitic invasion will be eradicated with medication. Diseases like cancer will involve treatment in the form of surgery, radiation or chemotherapy, and perhaps all three.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Increased Appetite in Dogs

The prognosis of recovery, by all means, is dependent on the cause of the polyphagia, and the successful resolution of the disease that may be the primary reason for the appetite disturbance. Continual communication with the veterinary caregiver will be part of the home care and management. The veterinarian will advise on repeat blood tests, imaging follow-up and dietary advice as needed. Return visits to the clinic will depend upon the initial cause of the polyphagia. As always, working together with the veterinary specialist is best for the continued comfort and welfare of your dog.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Increased Appetite Average Cost

From 121 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,600

arrow-up-icon

Top

Increased Appetite Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Half yorkie half mixed terrier

dog-age-icon

Nine Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea, Vomiting, Excessive Hunger

Do I need to take him in again to see a vet?

Aug. 5, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I'm not sure how long he has been on the Fenbendazole, so it is difficult for me to say if you should expect him to improve yet. What may be a good idea is to call your veterinarian, let them know that he is still vomiting and having diarrhea, and see if they feel that the medication needs more time to work, or if you should bring him back in. I hope that all goes well for him.

Aug. 5, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Bichon Frise

dog-age-icon

Eleven Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Fat Stomach And Crazy Hungry All The Time.. Breaks Into

Does she need medical attention??

Aug. 1, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is hard to say without seeing her whether she needs medical attention or not, or whether she may just have an increased appetite. If it has been a while since her last exam, it may be a good idea just to have a good General check up for her, and discuss her problems with your veterinarian. They will be able to see if she actually has a problem, or she just has an increased appetite. I hope that all goes well for her.

Aug. 1, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Pitweiler

dog-age-icon

Approx. 15 years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing, Increased Urination/Incontinence, Polyphagia, Lethargy, Loss Of Interest, Bloated Belly, Stumbling, Appears To Be Confused At Times, Has Started Having Accidents In The House

My dog is 15, has pretty bad arthritis that she's on 100mg of Rimadyl 2x/day fo I've noticed a very obvious decline in her health since my fiance who had her since she was 8 weeks old, died in a motorcycle accident August 7, 2018. She saw her vet on June 5th who said her heart &lungs sounded good & other than her bad eye sight &arthritis she's in pretty good shape for age& size. My concern is her overall quality of life. I addressed this with her vet& he said we have every reason to believe its ok. I trust his judgement, however Id like a 2nd opinion based on the info provided.

July 19, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Gina U. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

Hello From the symptoms that you are describing, it sounds like his health is declining and his quality of life is poor. Accidents in the house, lethargic, stumbling, etc (especially when he didn't do all that when he was younger) can be signs of older age and possibly a chronic disease. Consider humane euthanasia if you feel like her quality of life is getting worse. I know it is a hard decision. Good luck.

July 20, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Siberian Husky

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Increased Thirst Increase Appetite

I just put a seresto collar on my dog three days ago, and since then she’s been eating more and drinking more water. Is this a sign or something serious?

July 13, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. While increased eating and drinking are not side effects from a Seresto collar, there may be something else going on with your dog. If this is a sudden change that you have noticed, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian so that they can examine her and make sure she is okay. It may just be that there is a change in the weather, or this might be a short-term thing for her, but if it continues it would be best to have examined. I hope that all goes well for her.

July 13, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Sierra

dog-breed-icon

German Shepherd

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Increased Appetite

My GSD is 5 year old female. She has always been a very picky eater. Since this summer (very hot and humid), her appetite is increased, i no longer have to tempt her with treats in her food. Also i've been giving her extra food. her poop looks normal. but i'm still worried, she looks thinner. Her energy is good and she seems happy. should i be worried?

Aug. 28, 2018

Sierra's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

If Sierra seems to be maintaining her weight, not getting too heavy or too thin, you may not have anything to worry about, and this may be normal for her. If she seems to be gaining weight or losing weight, than it would be a good idea to have her examined by a veterinarian to make sure that she doesn't have a problem.

Aug. 28, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Krames

dog-breed-icon

Chihuahua/poodle mix

dog-age-icon

15 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Restless, Barky

15 y/o chihuahua mix has been seen by 2 vets. Does have kidney disease, but has done well since diagnosed with this 1 yr 4 mos. ago, on special food and Azodyl. Had lost 3 lbs, 1/3 of his body weight, so took him in, had complete blood panel, nothing seen that was out of the ordinary. The vet had no advice for us. Our doggy acts like he is uncomfortable, tense, and with the weight loss, we upped his food, he now gets 4 meals/day. And he still acts hungry, and is not gaining too much weight, maybe 2 lbs, even with doubling his food intake. He continues to act like he’s starving. Sleeps hard when he does sleep, he is getting up there in age, but much of the time he’s so agitated, makes many more sounds, low growls, whimpers, also much piercing (which is the norm his whole life, being a chihuahua) barking, it seems to us that he just wants more food. Follows me into the kitchen, stares at me when he’s not barking. I just am very frustrated that we have not gotten anything helpful from either vet. We figured out to start feeding him more on our own, and it has helped, as he will sleep after eating, and we get a break, and he rests. Some vet somewhere should be able to say - it’s due to age; it’s dementia, or a further complication of the kidney disease, or maybe all of the above, but we are left wondering, and as he doesn’t seem to be enjoying life much (doesn’t like walks anymore, looks distressed when he is awake, and all the sounds he makes seem to indicate something’s going on), we are thinking it’s probably time to let him go.

dog-name-icon

Meginao

dog-breed-icon

Mutt

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Never Full
Fast Eating
Greedy

I've had this female mutt for about 2½ years now and she recently gave birth to 4 pups. But right after the birth she started showing a serious increase in appetite. She would literally eat anything that was fed to her and she would search for food all the time. Also she's showing some signs of stress too. If anyone could tell me what could be the cause it would be really appreciated.

dog-name-icon

Charlie

dog-breed-icon

Labrador x Bull Arab

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Hungry All The Time

In the past week my dog has become increasingly hungry. We normally feed her a little bit of biscuits in the morning and a bit more at night. Lately when you feed her at night it is like she has not eaten in days and moves her bowl to get us to give more.

dog-name-icon

Minnie

dog-breed-icon

Pug cross

dog-age-icon

11 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Weight Loss
Aggression
Hungry

I have an 11 month old Pug cross Pit Bull who is nursing 7 puppies who are now 5 weeks old. We have dewormed her each time we have dewormed the puppies and have increased her meals slightly as we noticed her appetite increased when she started nursing. I am concerned however that there is another issue at hand. She has been ravenous the last few days, opening the trash, climbing on top of our tables, stealing food from our hands and even aggressively knocking our other dog out the way to get at his food before he can. She is also losing weight alot more in the last week than when the pups were born. She only feeds them for 2 minutes twice a day at the moment so I am battling to understand why she is still so hungry? She has also had diarrhea since the puppies were born.

dog-name-icon

Oska

dog-breed-icon

Mixed

dog-age-icon

9 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Increased Appetite, Weight Gain

I have had my rescue boy for 5 years but do not know his exact age because he was a stray (he is a minimum of 8 years old). He has never been a greedy or food driven dog but since about September last year he has had a considerably increased appetite and weight gain. He has been back and forth to the vets but I still have no answers. His skin has got quite flaky, his coat has thinned and dulled and he is very lethargic. He has mobility issues after a cruciate operation last year and I give him joint supplements and cbd oil. After trying everything to get him to lose weight so that he could move better, and his tests for Cushing and thyroid drawing a blank, I put him on a raw diet with very few treats in between his meals. I am feeding him for his ideal weight but he is still not loosing. His appetite continues to increase and he has for the first time ever started eating cat poop if he finds it! He continually goes into the kitchen begging for food and sits drooling while we eat even though he’s fed first. He has become very reluctant to go for walks (which were his very favourite thing), and his tummy is very gurgly and swollen after eating even though I use an anti-gulp bowl and feed him small meals. I am very worried and don’t know what else to do for him as it just seems to be getting worse despite my efforts. He is up to date with his worming and flea treatment.

Increased Appetite Average Cost

From 121 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,600

Purina Pro Plan Probiotics for Dogs

Gastrointestinal support

Shop now
advertisement image
How can we help your pet?