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When a Beagle is Always Hungry


Do you ever wonder why in the world your Beagle is always hungry? Maybe despite feeding him a quality diet and making sure that his meals are properly scheduled, he still acts as if he is starving to death?

Does this breed have an endless stomach? Or does the Beagle have a ravenous appetite due to a high metabolism? Owners wonder if constant cravings for food are caused by a medical issue, a behavioral issue or something else entirely.

This section will answer all of your questions, including:
  • The Top 3 medical conditions that can cause a sharp increase in appetite
  • The top 3 behavioral reasons Beagle puppy or dog may always be hungry
So, if your puppy or dog is an eating machine, this article will help sort it all out.

The Top 3 Medical Conditions that can Cause a Beagle to Act Hungry All the Time

It must first be mentioned that there are some serious health conditions that can cause a sudden increase in appetite. These should be considered before taking steps to resolve behavioral issues that are causing a Beagle to act as if he is starving. 

No dog should be ruled out as 'not being able to have that'. For example, while diabetes will affect older and overweight dogs more than younger, lean ones, there are 2 year old Beagles of proper weight with diabetes. 

The old saying of 'it's better to be safe than sorry' works well in this regard. Let's go over the top medical reasons for a dog always being hungry

1) Diabetes - This is a tricky disease. With some dogs there will be weight loss but also increased appiete. When the body is insulin resistant, the body overproduces insulin. This sends a signal of hunger to the brain and cause a dog to eat much more than normal. It may come and go in waves or it may appear to last all of the time.

You'll want to keep an eye out for other signs that include: excessive thirst, increased urination, and weakness. Less common but still important symptoms are: fruity smelling breath, urinary tract infections, vomiting and chronic skin infections.

2) Cushing’s Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism ) - This is a condition in which the dog's body produces too much of a hormone called glucocorticoid. This normally strikes older dogs between the ages of 10 and 14, though it can be seen in adolescent Beagles as young as 4 or 5 years old. The Beagle is one of the breeds that is prone to this, so owners should be aware of the possibility. 

Other signs to look for other than a dog always being hungry are: increased thirst, increased urination, loss of bladder control (this disease can develop slowly, so a Beagle may have an accidentally here and there and in time, they will happen more frequently) and weight gain (due to both increased hunger and retention of fluids). As it progresses, the Beagle may have a potbellied appearance, have trouble with mobility and have shortness of breath. 

3) Malabsorption Conditions - We are grouping this under one malady for the sake of organization; however this includes any disease that hinders the Beagle's ability to absorb proper nutrients. 

This includes EPI (Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency) which also has signs including: loose stools and weight loss (despite eating all of the time). For some dogs, there is less common signs such as a greasiness to the coat and/or vomiting.

Malabsorption can also be caused by a bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. Along with increased hunger there will be weight loss and diarrhea. Some Beagles will also have vomiting and/or loud gurgling sounds coming from the stomach.  To treat minor nutrient absorption issues at home for puppies that are not gaining enough weight, there are some good prozyme supplements that can help. If you would like to see recommended products, look to 'Supplements & Chews' in the Beagle Specialty Shoppe.
Beagle for blog
"Woof, rufff, rrrr...grrr... UMPHF!"

Translation: "Tweets for treats...? ... or share for... ahh... a pear??? 
Well, you get the gist! Show me some love & share this site before you read on."
The Top 2 Behavioral Reasons a Beagle will Always Be Hungry

1) Opportunity -  This is the most common reason that affects Beagles of any age, from a hyper little 3 month old to an older, senior dog.

Food stays in a dog's stomach for a much longer time than humans. In fact, as soon as we owners take our first bite, our saliva immediately begins the first step of digestion. For our Beagles, this does not happen until the food enters the stomach. 

It can be up to 3 full days from the time our puppy or dog ingests his meal until it is completely processed and unused elements are eliminated. This is one reason why adult canines do not need 3 meals plus snacks like you and I do. So, a Beagle's stomach - if he is feed on a regular schedule of high quality sustenance- is rarely ever empty. Certainly not enough to cause him to have an insatiable appetite.  

So, why would a Beagle act as if he is starving? The most common reason is that the opportunity to eat is presented to him and he will not turn the offer down. Some examples of this are:

You are cooking dinner, your Beagle smells it, comes over and looks at you with those amazing, pleading eyes. Is he hungry? Maybe not. But, his incredible sense of smell is telling him that some tempting morsels are available… his experience is that all he needs to do to obtain it is look at you a certain way.  

You sigh and then you give in and hand him a piece of meat or bread. He gobbles it down and you say, "Why are you always hungry?" Well, he wasn't really starving, but he saw/smelled a chance to take in food and being a dog, he had to try. You didn't think he was going to sniff it and turn around, did you?

Even though canines have been domesticated for a long time, our pets will almost never turn down food.  

The Fix: Since this breed can easily become overweight, especially seniors, it's best to feed scheduled meals and snacks. Little nibbles here and there can add up to cause excess weight gain.

Additionally, it can be a frustrating habit when a dog expects to have bits of food given to him whenever his owners eat. It's best break the expectation of being given edibles outside of meals and planned treats.

For puppies, treats are best reserved as rewards for training and for older Beagles snacks are best for reinforcing good behaviors such as listening to commands or following proper heeling techniques. You'll find that when you do not offer extra rations - even if your Beagle appears to be starving - that those treats will have more meaning when put into the context of reward.

2) Inadvertent Reinforcement - One tricky trap that owners can find themselves falling into is a Beagle that has learned that making certain faces or positioning himself a certain way causes his owner to give him food. This habit is quickly learned; sometimes all it takes is 2 times of this happening for the habit to settle in.

Beagles that have learned this are essentially thinking that making 'puppy dog eyes' or acting a certain way 'rewards' them something to eat. When it all boils down, it is similar to a dog performing a trick and being given a treat.   For some dogs, always acting as if they are starving is just a matter of a dog obtaining 'easy food', which is food offered to him for very little effort on his part. 

The Fix: Take a few days to see if you can find a pattern of behavior and have all members of the family involved. For example, your child might confess to giving a treat when your Beagle flops down and wiggles on his back… "It's just so cute, I give him a bit of food after he does it". Some members of the family (you?) might throw down a piece of sandwich meat just because your dog sat and stared while lunches were being made… all he needed was those big, beautiful eyes.

Don't reward for poses or expressions. Give praise or verbal recognition instead and save the food for when your Beagle is truly hungry.

How Food can Cause Hunger

When meals are of low quality, it will contain fillers. Fillers are ingredients that help a manufacturer produce cost effective food. It bulks up the kibble but has very little or no nutritional value. It's really sad, because it will appear as if a Beagle is ingesting a good amount of food. 

However, a good portion of that passes right through the body, since it offers no nutrients to be absorbed. The puppy or dog is then always hungry and for a good reason: the body is screaming out for the proper balance of protein, carbs, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.

The following are some fillers that are listed right on the container: 
  • Brewer's rice (this means that there is only the rice kernel and it is not whole grain rice)
  • Corn gluten
  • Oat meal (not the same as oatmeal -this is a byproduct of oats)
  • Potato product (byproduct of what was nutritious potatoes, but stripped down to a pointless filler of no value)
  • Corn bran (it sounds healthy but it is the outer coating of a corn kernel)
Another element to keep in mind is that while you may invest in a good brand for main meals, treats and snacks may be very empty in regard to nutrients. While they will fill the belly, as soon as they move to the intestines, a Beagle will crave more.

The Fix: Consider a high quality dog food to be an investment. Dogs that are fed properly have far fewer health problems. What you spend on food is often more than made up by a decrease of vet visits over the course of your Beagle's life. And you can't put a price on optimum health… even such things as consistent bowel movements and less upset stomach episodes is well worth choosing a quality brand.

In addition, no matter what type of food your give your puppy or dog, you will want to offer a daily vitamin and mineral supplement. While we can't provide 100% 'perfect' meals, we can come close and a daily complete vitamin and mineral powder can round out what our Beagles really need for excellent health.
Healthy Eating Habits

While we can't promise to refrain from ever giving in to giving our Beagles an extra treat or sharing just a tad of our dinner with them, there are some guidelines that - if followed - will help a puppy or dog stay on track with food:

1) Puppies should have 3 meals per day and then 2 as they mature. Adults can do fine with one, but your particular Beagle may be happier with two. The important thing to remember is that while it is best to feed your Beagle at set, regular times once you have chosen those times do not miss them. Canines begin to ready the body for food when dinnertime nears. If food is not given, that dog can become overly hungry…and when he is finally fed he may gulp it all down so fast that it causes problems.  

2) Make sure that snacks are healthy as well and not just cheap treats loaded with fillers. It's best to stay away from highly colored snacks (orange and red); your Beagle will do best with white or cream colored treats. Wholesome foods such as baby carrots, whole yogurt with fruits mixed in and sweet potatoes are all good choices to offer your puppy or dog.

3) The most well behaved dogs are those that obey the 'Sit' command before any food is given. This reinforces the human as the Alpha leader and leads to a puppy or dog that listens better than his counterpart that just runs over to the bowl with no control.  
A Final Word

If your Beagle acts as if he is always hungry, do please first look into any possible health reasons. Never rule out a certain condition based on the age of your dog. Once any medical concerns are ruled out, look to the behavioral reasons listed above and make a plan to begin working on correcting any that may apply to your dog. 

Correcting bad habits is best for both owner and dog. Dogs that have structure and clear guidelines feel safe and secure in what they consider their den (your home) and are - in general - much more apt to obey commands and have better overall behavior.
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