A closer look: Increased Appetite in Dogs
Most dogs tend to overeat if given free access to food so a voracious appetite isn’t always a concern, especially if no other symptoms are present. This is especially true if the voracious appetite is nothing new.
Increased appetite may be a sign of a serious underlying condition warranting veterinary attention if accompanied by other symptoms.
Any dog experiencing a sudden, significant increase in appetite, especially if accompanied by other new symptoms, needs prompt veterinary attention. An increase in appetite can be very common for many disease processes. Dogs experiencing vomiting and diarrhea for over 24 hours require prompt veterinary assessment.
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Symptoms vary depending on the underlying cause and duration of disease.
Chronic diseases with secondary symptoms will progress until the underlying disease is treated. Examples are continued weight loss with diabetes mellitus and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, or continued weight gain with hyperadrenocorticism. Conditions such as cancer may cause severe, rapidly progressive symptoms.
A sudden change in appetite that is associated with more benign causes, and less severe secondary symptoms, may resolve spontaneously. Examples are an increase in appetite during pregnancy, during periods of heavy exercise which many working dogs experience, and THC toxicosis.
Testing and diagnosis
Diagnostics include physical exam, blood work, urinalysis, diagnostic imaging, and fecal analysis to screen for underlying disorders. Caloric analysis is also vital to ensure appropriate calories are being fed.
Broad-based therapeutic trials to rule out other conditions may be recommended before more aggressive diagnostics are suggested. These may include deworming, dietary trials, or dietary therapy.
Specific treatments depend on the underlying cause. Some underlying diseases are difficult or impossible to treat and palliative care is the goal.
Always seeming hungry may be normal for many dogs. Many dogs will eat as much food as they are allowed and will beg for more. Concern arises if there is a clear increase in appetite and if the change is accompanied by other symptoms.
Other symptoms vary widely and depend on the underlying disease present.