Any dog as well as a German Shepherd can be over-excited at mealtimes and quickly gulp down their food, which is perfectly normal. But what if they seem to ask for more food?
Why is your German Shepherd always hungry?
The answer to this is found below and what to do about it.
Why is my German Shepherd always hungry?
A German Shepherd that is always hungry could be a sign of an underlying health problem including diabetes, inflammatory bowel syndrome, cancer, Cushing’s disease, reaction to a medication, pancreatic disorder, and aging. The conditions cause malabsorption and a German Shepherd will still feel hungry.
Common reasons for constant hunger
Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
Inflammatory bowel syndrome is a reaction to chronic irritation of the gastrointestinal tract which can be caused by bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection or food allergies.
The syndrome causes an inability to absorb nutrients from food in the digestive tract. This leads to an increased appetite, weight loss, and in the worst cases diarrhea and vomiting.
The condition is usually very common in older dogs but also middle-aged dogs can develop it.
German Shepherd diabetes can be due to insulin shortage (type 1 diabetes) or ineffective utilization of insulin (type 2 diabetes).
In both cases, glucose in the blood (hyperglycemia) ends up not being converted to energy, which is the primary function of insulin.
Therefore a diabetic German Shepherd experiences an increased appetite, excessive thirst, increased urination, and weight loss.
Cancer can develop along the intestinal tract of a German Shepherd. Intestinal cancer can cause decreased uptake of nutrients from the stomach and intestines. This leads to an increased appetite.
Cushing’s disease is common in older German shepherds. It is a condition commonly caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland leading to an increase in the production of cortisol.
Cortisol is a stress hormone and helps to regulate the blood pressure, metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, reduction of inflammation, regulation of insulin, and maintenance of the sleep cycle in a dog.
When the levels of cortisol increase, this results in extreme thirst, panting, frequent urination, lack of energy, increased appetite, and also lesions on the skin.
German shepherds may not be very susceptible to Cushing’s disease in comparison to other dog breeds but they can also develop it.
Reaction to medication
A reaction to medication can also lead to an increase in appetite. Therefore if your German Shepherd is under medication this could be the possible cause for the increased appetite.
Recommended reading: Why is my German Shepherd drinking so much water?
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is a pancreatic disorder leading to the inability to digest food properly due to a lack of pancreatic enzymes which are used in the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
A lack of these essential enzymes means that a German Shepherd is unable to absorb the necessary nutrients that its body needs, which leads to an increased appetite and weight loss.
Senior or older dogs develop several physical conditions or diseases that also might affect their digestive tract efficiency.
This includes cancer, inflammatory bowel syndrome, and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency as described above.
The dog’s ability to utilize ingested food and obtain nutrients becomes inefficient which leads to an increased appetite and will always be hungry.
What to do
When you notice your German Shepherd having an increased appetite than usual, consult your veterinarian so that they may determine the underlying cause.
The veterinarian will perform tests to reach a diagnosis and also they will ask you about the symptoms you observed alongside the increased appetite.
Treatment will depend on the underlying cause which includes administration of medication.
What not to do
Do not overfeed your German Shepherd even if they seem to want more food or seem to be hungry.
This is because overfeeding results in an overweight German Shepherd which leads to the development of diabetes, arthritis, and hip or elbow dysplasia.
Overfeeding also leads to rapid growth which also leads to joint and bone disorders. Therefore maintain their scheduled mealtimes and food quantities based on their weight.
Talk to your veterinarian regarding the diet requirements for each stage of life to provide the appropriate food requirements for development at the normal growth rate.
A German Shepherd that is always hungry is not normal. This is because the increased appetite could be an indication of a health condition that affects the absorption of nutrients from their stomach or intestines.
So a German Shepherd may be starving no matter how much they eat because they’re unable to absorb the nutrients in their food.
Therefore when you notice your German Shepherd’s appetite increasing more than usual, always contact your veterinarian to determine the cause and treatment.