Do Dogs Know When To Stop Eating? How To Feed Your Dog?

When you bring food to your dog, it is one of the most exciting times of its day. You can just see it’s ready to eat it all up. But do dogs know when to stop eating?

Some dogs can stop eating once they feel “full”. Other dogs can continue eating until they start feeling nauseous and regurgitate the food. Your job as a dog owner is to prevent the dog from overeating and train it to eat properly.

Do Dogs Ever Feel Full?

The type of food the dog eats will significantly affect its satiety. Dog food that contains more fiber will make the dog feel full faster than one with less fiber. That said, some dogs have no self-control with food and almost never feel full. This depends on other things, including the dog breed.

Do Dogs Stop Eating When They’re Not Hungry?

The dogs’ ability to recognize satiation is individual. Some dogs can stop once they feel full, while others will continue until they feel nauseous. This is usually present in highly food-motivated dogs. But there are dogs with health problems that have an increased appetite as a symptom.

Some dogs are highly food driven because they descend from wild wolves. These wolves did not always have access to food, so they would eat a lot when they had a chance. So dogs that eat a lot do that because they want to prevent starvation.

That said, dogs have a hormone called leptin that regulates their appetite and sends signals to their brain that they should stop eating.

Can A Dog Overeat?

There are instances where a dog can overeat and cause serious health problems for itself. Some dogs will only stop once they feel nauseous or vomit out the food. Rarely, this overeating habit will lead to serious health problems like Bloat. This is why you need to recognize the signs that indicate when dogs have eaten enough early.

How To Know A Dog Is Overeating

There are a few things you should keep an eye on if you suspect that the dog eating habits are getting out of control and it is at risk of developing health issues. Besides monitoring your dog’s food consumption, you should also do a few more things.

Comparing Size And Weight

One way to notice if your dog is overeating is to compare its size and weight to other dogs of its age and breed. There are usually size and weight charts for different breeds that say approximately how big a dog should be. It’s fine if your dog goes a bit out of the average, but not too much.

Soft Stools

If you are worried about your dog’s gastrointestinal health, you need to commit to regular checks of its stool. If you find that its stools become soft throughout the day, it might be a sign of overfeeding. To regulate the stool of the dog, it is important to include fiber in the diet. It will also help it reach satiety.

Body Shape

Besides the dog’s size and its stool consistency, its shape will also give you a sense of how much the dog is eating. If dogs can’t regulate their food intake they will start looking rounder. You should be able to see a slight outline of your dog’s ribs with an hourglass shape. Noticing big fat deposits on its ribs is a clear sign of being overweight.

Reasons Why Dogs Eat All The Time

There are a few things that will cause the dog to eat more than usual. You need to know these in order to prevent them in time.

Free Feeding

The practice called free feeding means leaving a bowl of food ready so that the dog can eat whenever it feels like it. This works for some dogs, but others will eat the food instantly and it can lead to them gaining weight.

If you are adamant about letting your dog free-feed, you need to start slowly. Otherwise, it will overeat.

You Are Feeding It Leftovers

If you don’t set dog feeding limits, you will end up with a heavy and unhealthy dog. When dog owners sit down to eat, it is common for their dogs to ask for some tasty snacks. Sometimes, dogs won’t eat their food but only human food. Our food is usually filled with a lot of tasty carbs which are full of calories. Carbs will also cause more hunger episodes.

It Has An Improper Diet

If the dog keeps eating a lot when you give it food, the problem might be in you. You might be offering it a diet that is low in all the nutrients a dog needs. There is an importance of balanced nutrition for dogs. The dog food you give should have enough calories and nutrients like fiber that will keep the dog satiated. Also, use dog food low in carbs and high in protein.

Hunger From Health Problems

The canines’ sense of fullness can be affected by some medical issues. If the dog has been eating properly, and suddenly increases its appetite, you should look for a more serious problem. Diseases like Cushing’s disease, parasitic infections, diabetes, and some tumors can cause an increased appetite. If you notice any other symptoms besides overeating, it is best to consult a vet.

Stress And Anxiety

When people get stressed, they tend to eat. But so do dogs. If your dog is experiencing any physical or emotional stress, it may start overeating. Some reasons for stress in dogs include separation anxiety, loud noises, strange people, and changing the environment, among others. Once stressed, dogs may also become aggressive, and restless, and start panting and drooling besides being hungry.

Past Trauma

The feeding patterns of dogs can be disturbed if a dog has been exposed to a lot of trauma in the past. This is especially noticeable in dogs that were homeless or neglected by their past owners. They might have not had access to a lot of food in the past, so they developed unusual feeding behaviors and want to use the situation to eat a lot while they have food.

Dog Breeds That Love Eating

There are some dog breeds that tend to eat much more than others. Labradors are an example of a dog that loves to eat and can eat almost everything. Beagles are also notorious for their love of food. Other food-loving dogs include Border Collies, Pugs, Shetland Sheepdogs, Dachshunds, and Corgis among others. All that said, every dog is an individual and its love for food will differ.

Stopping A Dog From Overeating

If you notice that your dogs aren’t aware of their fullness, there are things you can do to help. Here are a few steps to take.

Change The Diet

Change its diet from free-feeding to scheduled. Always start changing the diet slowly so it doesn’t come as a shock to it. Don’t feed the dog late in the evening. Your dog might have diarrhea at night if it overeats in the late evening.

Make sure the food you give is nutritious and balanced. Talk to a vet for advice on proper feeding.

Train The Dog Properly

Do not tolerate begging that comes from your dog. Ignore its wish for more food to avoid overeating. If the dog is asking for food even after eating, you should divert its attention by talking to it on a walk or giving it a toy. You should also be training dogs to stop eating on command.

Teach the dog that the kitchen is off-limits so it doesn’t get its hand on your leftovers. Feed it with a slow-feeding bowl so it has more time to feel satiated.

So Do Dogs Know When To Stop Eating?

Some dogs have the ability to stop eating once they’ve eaten enough. This is due to the hormone leptin which informs the brain that the stomach is full. Other dogs have no sense of portion control. This can be due to the natural need for feeding adopted by wolves. But it can also be caused by other reasons.

Dogs that do free feeding tend to eat more than they should. Some dogs overeat by getting the leftovers from their owners. Some may suffer from stress, or experience some health problems increasing their appetite. The overeating may also come from past trauma.

You will know that your dog is overeating if you notice it has grown in size and has a chubby shape. Soft stools in the evening can also be a sign of overeating.


Can a dog spend a day without eating?

Yes, healthy adult dogs can go for around 3-5 days without eating anything. But they should at least consume water during that period. If you notice your dog is not eating for longer than 48 hours, contact a vet.

Do dogs get bored of the same food?

Even though some dogs don’t know when to stop eating, they may become bored with the food they eat. To prevent this, change some ingredients in the food you give or mix its dog food with some treats.

How much water should a dog drink a day?

The formula for dogs and water is 1 ounce of water for 1 pound of body weight, daily. This number should be increased for dogs that are really active or pregnant dogs or ones that recently gave birth.

Leave a Comment