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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).

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Increased Appetite Average Cost

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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
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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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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Increased Appetite Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$1,600

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Increased Appetite Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Shih Tzu

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14 years

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Moderate severity

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6 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Losing Weight

my dog was recently diagnosed with kidney disease and she seems to be hungry all the time she is losing a lot of weight. I am feeding her white rice white meat boil chicken and sweet potato she will not eat any Hills kd food at all

Oct. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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6 Recommendations

I'm very sorry to hear about this diagnosis. Hills K/D and other renal diets are notoriously bad tasting and many dogs need a lot of encouragement to eat them. Consider adding some warm water or mixing in a topper of chicken / fish. Ideally, we would try hard to get her losing kidney food as we know that this is proven to be the most effective way to keep kidney disease at bay; even better than any medicine. Consider an alternate flavour, e.g. the renal diet from Royal Canin. It is unusual for a dog with kidney disease to have an increased diet and we usually find our patients struggle with poor appetite. I would want to rule out any other issues such as parasites, a malabsorptive disorder or cancer. If she has runny stool or vomiting we should provide medicine to control this as this could be leading to the weight loss.

Oct. 27, 2020

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Cocker Spaniel

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Eight Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Eating All The Time

Why does my dog want to eat all the time we lost her beother a month ago since that time she just want to eat

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Without examining her, it is difficult for me to say why she may be doing this, whether it is normal for her or if she has something going on that needs treatment. It would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine your pet and see what might be causing this, and let you know what treatment might help.

Oct. 11, 2020

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Puggle

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Six Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Excessive Hunger

In the last month my pup’s behavior has completely changed. She is insatiably hungry. So much so that she will whine, chirp and bark to make it known. She also has started to poop on the rug (she is trained to go on potty pads). Lastly, she no longer wants to sleep in her normal spot or at all for that matter. She seems out of sorts but not necessarily in any pain.

Sept. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 25, 2020

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Havanese xshih sue

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing

Panting,eats constantly, thinning tail, round belly. Vet felt she didn't have bushings, but what else could it be..?

Sept. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 25, 2020

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Half yorkie half mixed terrier

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Nine Weeks

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Unknown severity

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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

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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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

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Krames

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Chihuahua/poodle mix

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15 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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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.

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Meginao

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Mutt

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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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.

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Charlie

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Labrador x Bull Arab

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1 Year

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Fair severity

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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.

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Minnie

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Pug cross

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11 Months

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Moderate severity

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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.

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Oska

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Mixed

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9 Years

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Moderate severity

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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

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