All dogs love to eat and are easily motivated by food. Some, however, seem to have a ravenous appetite and will always want to eat more than its given. It’s quite common to see this sort of behavior from a pug – they’ll eat their fill and whatever else is on offer! But why is it that they never seem to get full?
While this article will detail 12 reasons why pugs always want to eat, below are some key motives for their ever-lasting hunger:
- Quality of their food – lower rated grade of dog foods will contain less nutrients.
- Canine biology – the “feast or famine” mentality.
- Health concerns – disruptions in their wellbeing and a declining state of health may influence their appetite.
- Begging behavior – a learned trait off the back of poor discipline by owners.
- Lifestyle changes – can induce insecurity and anxiety that triggers food aggression.
Our canine friends are complex creatures, so there can be numerous reasons why they seemingly never get full from eating. It can be as simple as the size of their meals or the quality of their foods. Alternatively, it can be more complex whereby this train is ingrained in their DNA. There are many things to consider, and if not recognised, a change in their appetite could lead to detrimental changes in their health. Whatever the reason may be, we’ll get into the details of such so that we can ensure your pug lives a long and healthy life.
1. Canine Biology
As cute and friendly as our pugs are, they are, like all dogs, descendants of the grey wolf. As a result, they have a “feast or famine” mentality that’s ingrained in their DNA. Their more vicious ancestors tend to go several days without food, so they’re hungry more of than not. And when it’s time to eat after a successful hunt, they’ll eat until there is no more. Adding to that, they are pack animals by nature, and each will have their own designated roles. If they’re not the alpha, they aren’t eating first, so canines need to eat their share and as much as possible when given the opportunity. While humans have since domesticated dogs, this is an essential trait that has remained in a loveably furry friends.
2. Quality of their Food
Not all dog foods are created equally, whether dry, wet or frozen. Cheaper dog foods (1-3 star rating) will usually contain some form of filler that holds no nutritional value. This means less vitamins, protein, benefits, and even calories, while containing unhealthy fats that’s bad for digestion. Fillers help plump up dog food so that it appears to be bigger and more than what it really is. Truthfully, your pug may only be ingesting 25%-75% of their required daily intake per serving. You also want to avoid ingredients such as cereals, grains, preservatives, artificial chemicals, and other by-products (coloring and artificial flavoring). They’re things that can cause flatulence and indigestion which may lead to other health problems down the line.
A good indicator to gauge whether the food given to them is nutrient dense enough for your pug to be at a healthy level is by monitoring their weight. If you’re feeding them their recommended serving but they’re seemingly losing weight or not gaining the necessary amount of weight, then perhaps you need to check the ingredients on the label. Filler components will pass right through the body, leading to constant hunger. There are resources available that can be used to research the best brand for your pug.
Look at changing your pug’s diet by feeding them higher quality foods that are rated 4-5 stars. Avoid anything that has “whole meat” listed as a primary ingredient as that’s mostly made up with water (up to 70% while only containing a maximum of 18% protein). Rather, you want to ensure they’re being fed “meat meal”, which will contain approximately 65% protein and only 10% water. Hot tip: Gradually introduce new foods by mixing it in with the old feed, and increase the ratio every time until their meals only consist of the new kibble mix. Pugs have sensitive gastrointestinal tracts, so that a drastic diet change may upset their stomach.
Additionally, you can introduce and add fresh foods into their diets to make up for any nutrient deficiencies, and so they feel satiated. It’s best to keep these low in calories, so stick with fruits and vegetables. My boy Finn loves to snack on cucumbers, peas, blueberries and strawberries!
3. The Size of their Meals
As puppies, it’s normal for a pug to have a big appetite during their first 10 months. They need to be on a specialized diet to ensure that they grow at a healthy rate, and during this time, they may gain between 13% to 17% of their body weight. If they’re not gaining at this rate, speak to your vet to rule out potential health issues like worms. They may even prescribe your pug with a prozyme supplement to aid their digestive track to enable nutrients to be absorbed better.
The general guideline is to feed pug puppies one ounce of food per one pound of their body weight. As adults (from two years old), the amount is halved. This will however vary based on their lifestyle, for example, more calories will be burnt if the pug is more active. This means more calories and nutrients are needed to sustain a healthy pug. If they’re not being fed enough, this may be a reason why they’re left feeling hungry. The goal is to feed them enough so you’re not feeding them 3-4 meals per day or given snacks (often unhealthy) throughout the day. This will eventually lead to weight gain, and an overweight pug may come across more issues than other breeds due to their brachycephalic nature.
You can start by trying to increase their portion sizes, while ensuring that the foods eaten contain high quality ingredients. This will allow for more nutrients and calories to be absorbed, thus satisfying their hunger. Unfortunately, pugs are known as speed eaters, so please be mindful of this when giving them more food. They won’t take much longer to eat the extra food and in the process will probably swallowing a lot more of their foods whole, while inhaling excessive air in the process. This can lead to indigestion, bloating and flatulence, which may cause issues like diarrhea and vomiting.
My advice is to introduce their increased portion sizes with a slow feeder bowl to slow down the pace of their consumption. These bowls have obstacles in them that’ll forcefully stop the pug from inhaling large amounts of food, and reduce the chance for indigestion and excess air from entering their system.
4. Begging Behavior
Most pug owners will have experienced begging behavior and it should never be enabled. Pawing, whinging and barking for food while you’re eating may leave you feeling with a sense of guilt, but it’s something that needs to be ignored. This is especially common at the dining table, where table scraps are given as a form of treat or reward. Generally, the food we eat will contain way too many calories, fat, sugars and sodium for them, which can lead to stomach problems. Not only is it in your best interest to keep them healthy but you also don’t want your pug to learn bad behaviors.
Pugs are very motivated by food so even if not hungry, they will still seek it. As responsible dog owners, we need to create a sense of separation between the foods that we eat, and what is given to them. If not, it increases their drive for more food as they’re not distinguishing what they can and cannot eat. We must remain disciplined and if you are to reward them with snacks, stick to healthier snacks like fruits and vegetables. Hot tip: unsweetened peanut better mixed with yogurt is great in a kong.
5. A Learned Behavior
Continuing on from the previous point, if you always feeding them snacks, they will naturally want more. This may also increase their appetite overtime. The best thing to do is to avoid feeding them senselessly and ignore them as much as possible while eating. Don’t make eye contact, and continue on with your business without giving them attention. This separation will require time and continual training but pays dividends. Also, you want to ensure that everyone in the household is on the same page. It’s likely the pug will seek food from the main culprit feeder and if they don’t oblige, they’ll move onto the next until they get something in their belly. Our discipline will influence their behavior patterns vastly.
Humans domesticated dogs by feeding friendlier wolves food scraps. While they are known as man’s best friend, we’re no longer in that process of domestication! So don’t turn it into a game just so they love you more than your roommate. This will become bothersome down the line, where even preparing food becomes an obstacle. Some owners need to take their pugs out of the house just so they can cook! Train your dog to be disciplined with food so it doesn’t get that bad for you.
6. Frequency of Meals
Depending on your feeding schedule and routine, this may or may not affect your pug. For most, feeding 1-2 moderate meals a day is enough but you can also try spacing them out by feeding them 2-3 times with lesser amounts. It should be noted that their total daily intake should remain the same to ensure they get the energy required for a healthy and happy pug.
7. Health Issues and Problems
Unfortunately, health problems that are affect a pug may be another cause for their never ending hunger levels. They may not feel full even if fed high-quality and appropriate amounts of food. The table below is a breakdown of potential issues that may negatively impact and change their appetite:
|Exposure to high levels of the cortisol hormon over a long period of time may increase hunger and thirst. While it does help dogs keep blood sugar level in check, fight infections, and respond to stress, but too much or too little of it can cause problems. Symptoms include panting, tiredness, hair loss, and skin infections (Fetch by WebMD, 2019).|
|Diabetes Mellitus||Insulin deficiency is more common for middle-aged dogs, which will affect a dog’s appetite as the cells in their body will continue to signal your dog that it’s still hungry (Bruyette, 2019).|
|Parasitism (Intestinal)||This include hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms. These parasites can lead a dog to eating while never fully feeling satisfied. These infections may bloat a dog, giving the appearance that it’s gained weight when it actually hasn’t. Malnourishment and an unhealthy rate of weight loss can also be a factor (American Kennel Club, 2015).|
|Pancreatic Insufficiency||Issues with the pancreas may result in your dog having the inability to produce enzymes to digest fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. This leads to poor absorption of nutrients which may cause weight loss despite a normal or increased appetite (Williams, n.d.).|
|Intestinal Issues||Inflammation of a dog’s gastrointestinal tract (stomach and intestines) can lead to bacterial infections including viruses and parasites. A dog experience such issues can eat a lot while not feeling full as it may not have the ability to ingest enough nutrients. On the flip side, weight loss and a decreased appetite can also occur depending on the exact root cause. Symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea (Hunter, n.d.).|
If any of the above symptoms are noticed, I would advise you to take your pug to the vet for an immediate check-up. Get in early if any of these signs are showing as leaving them untreated can lead to detrimental consequences. Your vet will be able to help diagnose the problem and give professional medical advise to treat the issue.
8. Reaction to Medicine
Certain medicines and supplements can trigger varying responses when introduced to your pug’s system. One reaction may be an increase in their appetite. They could be underlying mechanisms within their anatomy that’s adversely affected causing a limitation in how many nutrients can be absorbed by their body. Keep a journal on their daily status and continue to stay in contact with your vet to manage the issue. Most probably, the vet will give you a heads up on this if they think this may arise as a potential side effect before prescribing anything.
As dog’s age, their bodily functions will begin to slow down. Things won’t work the same way when compared to their younger healthier self. A common cause is that they may not be digesting their foods as efficiently, leading to less nutrients absorbed by the body. If there is a sudden change in appetite, it may be a strong signal that something is wrong. Seek professional advice from your vet for a diagnosis.
10. If Overweight and on a Diet
Of course, if your pug is currently overweight and on a diet, they will be fed less and exercising more. Being in a caloric deficit will of course lead them to be hungry more often. Snacking on fruits and vegetables that contains more fibre can help curb their hunger pangs. Hot tip: mix in canned pumpkin with their kibble mix to help fill them up. It is a complex carbohydrate that’s also great at aiding digestion.
11. Lifestyle changes
A drastic change in a pug’s lifestyle and surroundings can induce anxieties that may lead to an increased appetite. Perhaps someone (e.g. grown kids) recently moved out of the household or may someone new had just moved in. Situations like these can trigger the “feast or famine” mentality as a result of heightened insecurities. A new and unfamiliar person in the household can be seen as a threat to resources. Food aggression may also be expressed to cope with a new pet being introduced to the family.
On the flip side, changing homes and location can also mean a change in lifestyle for the better. For example, moving to an area that’s closer to parks, beaches, hiking trails, and dog parks, may offer more opportunities to get active. More play time and exercise means more calories burnt, which may induce an increased appetite. Ultimately, our lifestyle changes will significantly impact theirs, and this leads to our next point.
12. Seasonal changes
A pug’s appetite may change as the seasons change. As per the previous point, our lifestyle will determine how they live their lives. As we get more active, so will our pups. In saying that, dogs will eat more or less depending on the climate. For example, we may be more physical during spring and summer as the weather allows us to play with our furry friends more. Conversely, colder and wetter months may not allow us to be active.
Ultimately, the more calories that are burnt, the more hungry they’ll tend to be. As owners, we need to adjust their daily caloric intake based on their physical endeavors.
Do pugs know when to stop eating? No, pugs are motivated by food with a “feast or famine” mentality. They will continue to eat until there is no more in front of them. Food isn’t spaced out like that of a cat, so you never want to leave them unattended for extended periods of time.
How many times should a pug eat a day? Pugs can be fed 2-3 times a day depending on their lifestyle and the schedule of an owner. It is open to interpretation and not all pugs are created equally. Regardless of such, as long as an adult pug weighs between 14-18 lbs (6.35kg-8.16kg) then it’s considered healthy.
What foods are bad for pugs? Chocolate, caffeine, grapes, raisins, alcohol, raw bread dough, xylitol, onions, garlic, dairy products, macadamia nuts, avocados, apple seeds, and some cooked bones.