How to calm dogs with anxiety about food. What should I do?

There are many dogs that seem to have no end when it comes to eating and those who eat with excessive anxiety. This can generate important health problems, such as obesity, choking or continuous regurgitation.

In this article, we will look at some of the possible causes that may be behind the increase in appetite (polyphagia) and anxiety for food.

Medical problems - dog anxious about food

Once again, it is one of the causes that we must consider. Some digestive, liver, pancreatic or hormonal diseases can considerably increase the appetite in our dogs. For example:

  • The pancreatic insufficiency, characteristic of the German shepherd, is characterized by the fact that the dog eats the appropriate daily ration or even more, but he does not gain weight and, in fact, loses weight.

  • Some endocrine diseases, such as hypothyroidism, common in Labradors, also generate polyphagia.

  • Also, the massive infestations by some intestinal parasites can reduce the absorption of nutrients, making our dog increase the food intake more than normal.

Lack of routine at lunchtime

We have already commented several times on the importance of routines for dogs, since increasing the control over their environment helps to reduce stress and frustration. If each day we feed him at one hour, it is likely that the dog develops certain anxiety about food.

Also, the number of times he eats a day is important. Generally, dogs that only eat once a day develop more gluttony and anxiety for food, due to the excessive number of hours that elapses between one take and the next.

Several dogs in the same house

In the canine species, there is a phenomenon known as "group effect", where they increase the amount and speed of the intake if there is more than one dog around. Some dogs, in the presence of other dogs, can eat with greater anxiety than when they are alone.

This, by the way, is very common in shelters and dog's refugee centers, where they coexist with more companions in the kennel.

The breed

There are some breeds, such as the Beagle or the Labrador, which have a reputation as gluttons. They are usually dogs that do not self-regulate and can eat up to constipation. It is important to point out that, when speaking of breeds, it does not mean that all the individuals of the same breed have this characteristic, but a high number of them.

Feed quality

A feed of low-quality, often poorly balanced or with low-quality ingredients, can cause our dog to eat more than normal, either because they are "seasoned" with oils to be more attractive or because they do not satisfy the animal's energy needs.

As you see, there are several factors that can cause an increase in appetite or intake with too much anxiety in our dogs. In such cases, remember to take into account a possible medical origin to attend a veterinary review. Some useful tips to prevent these problems are:

  • Go to the veterinarian's annual review.

  • Periodically deworm your pet, both internally and externally.

  • Give him food routinely, always at the same times.

  • It is much better if you give his daily ration divided into 2 or 3 takes instead of just one.

  • Feed your partner with quality feed, well balanced, and with quality ingredients.

  • Do not disturb him while he eats so he does not feel the need to swallow the food in case you are going to remove it before he finishes it.

  • If there are several dogs and the presence of one makes the other eat with greater anxiety, put the food in different shifts or at the same time but in different areas.

Borja Ros Villanueva, veterinarian and ethologist in Adetcan.

Adetcan is a project formed by two veterinary ethologists and canine educators who provide counseling, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of behavioral problems in dogs and cats. The service is at home. We are in Santiago de Compostela but we work throughout Galicia.