What Are Eating Disorders in Dogs?

Eating Disorders in Dogs

Eating disorder in dogs can be of different types, such as overeating or refusal to eat. The causes of canine eating disorders are difficult to pinpoint. However, these eating problems may be linked to an underlying physical condition or emotional issue.

Causes of Dog Eating Disorders

The causes of canine eating disorders can be difficult to identify, the most common causes are listed below.

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Diseases (i.e. hormonal problems such as diabetes that can cause overeating or diseases that can cause loss of appetite)
  • Lack of exercise
  • Boredom
  • Curiosity (causes pica)

Symptoms of Dog Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders in Dogs

You may notice your dog tends to eat less or more or have other eating disorders. There may be other accompanying signs:

  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Digestive problems (vomiting, diarrhea or constipation)
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Depression
  • Itching, biting, or chewing of the skin (due to boredom or stress)
  • Hair loss (Alopecia)
  • Excessive thirst and excessive urination

Diagnosing Eating Disorders in Dogs

Dog eating disorders can be detected by monitoring your dog’s behavior and trying to find the cause of the eating disorder. Your veterinarian may refer to blood tests, hormone analyzes and imaging methods to identify the underlying cause of your dog’s eating disorders.

The Most Common Eating Disorders in Dogs

Binge eating (Polyphagia)

Overeating occurs when the dog consumes more food than it needs. This can lead to obesity in dogs! Obesity in dogs brings many health risks, including joint stress, heart disease, liver disease and kidney disease. Most dog owners think that their dog’s excessive consumption of food is simply due to a healthy appetite, but it is not.

Dogs will eat anything they find tasty or looks like food. They cannot provide self-control on their own. Therefore, if you want your dog to avoid overeating, create a feeding schedule and limit how much food he can consume at each feeding.

However, overeating is not always caused by a dog’s people. Hormonal diseases such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease can cause weight gain. A slowing metabolism as the dog ages can also be a cause. Some breeds are also more prone to weight gain. In these cases, the diet must be adjusted so that the dogs do not overeat and gain excess weight. Eating the same amount as before the onset of the disease, eating as much as other dogs of different breeds, or even eating as much as they did when they were young can be overeating.

If you think your dog is overeating, you should consult your veterinarian for information about whether there is an underlying disease and how to manage the situation.

Anorexia (Anorexia)

There are many causes of loss of appetite in dogs, and it can be one of the first signs of the disease. If your dog stops eating, it should be examined by a veterinarian. Your dog should be checked for any autoimmune, respiratory, gastrointestinal, endocrine or neurological diseases affecting the systems. Anorexia can also be caused by aging, heart problems, medications, ingestion of toxic substances, or abnormal growths.

Sometimes the problem may be a psychological rather than a physical problem that occurs when your dog experiences a change in his environment or a different daily routine. Separation anxiety can also cause a dog to refuse to eat.

The most common of loss of appetite in dogs include:

  • Oral diseases
  • Infections and diseases
  • Dogs recovering from surgery and injuries
  • It can be caused by stomach or intestinal disease. The most common are cancer, internal parasites, and foreign bodies.
  • Extreme sounds like fireworks can trigger anorexia.

Since the causes of anorexia are so diverse, it will not improve until the underlying cause is identified and treated. For this purpose, your veterinarian will refer to imaging methods such as blood tests, hormone analyzes and x-ray ultrasound for your dog.

Eating Feces (Coprophagy)

Eating feces in dogs is a very common eating disorder. Female dogs eat the feces of their puppies to keep their living areas clean. This action instinctively evolves to survive as it prevents unsanitary conditions in the nest.

Puppies can eat feces out of curiosity. The owner should take this situation seriously so that it does not become a habit.

Dogs can eat feces for a variety of reasons. The act of eating feces, known as coprophagia, can be dangerous. The feces of dogs and other animals can contain parvo, giardia, worms and a host of bacteria and other parasites. It’s also a hard habit to let go, so it’s important to clean up after your dog quickly.

Eating feces in dogs can also be caused by mineral and vitamin deficiency in dogs, as some digestive system diseases cause malabsorption. If you punish your dog for pooping at home, he may develop a habit of eating the evidence to avoid punishment.

Malnourished dogs may try to recycle their waste to help absorb the nutrients they couldn’t get the first time. Cat poop is high in protein due to their cat diet and may be appealing to dogs because of its high protein. Parasites or pancreatic problems can cause coprophagia. Or sometimes dogs may eat poop just to get attention.

Since there are many causes, it is important to consult your veterinarian and find possible solutions if your dog is consuming feces.


Sometimes dogs swallow food very quickly, usually without much chewing. This can cause gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting, stomach upset or bloating.

Gluttony can also lead to behavioral problems. If your dog believes that the food source can be taken away, he may react with aggression when a human or other dog approaches while he is eating.

This may be a behavior that passes from infancy to adulthood. Puppies may feel that they have to compete with other pups while suckling their mother. As this behavior pattern develops, it can continue to exist, especially in adult dogs living with other animals at home. However, it can also be seen in dogs, which are the only pets in the house.

Certain medical conditions, such as parasites, can affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, or nutritionally deficient food can also cause your dog to feel more hungry than usual.

If your dog has a recent development of gluttony, you should definitely go to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may run tests for parasites or recommend dietary changes. If it’s behaviorally developed, make sure your dog eats in a place where he doesn’t feel like competing for food, away from other animals or anything that might take up food sources.

You can also try hand-feeding or serving your dog small amounts at a time, rather than one full bowl at a time.


Pica is the state of eating non-food items. It is a condition manifested by the ingestion of non-food items such as fabric, plastic, wood, paper and even stone. Dogs affected by pica will eat anything they can get their hands on. This means they chew and swallow things they shouldn’t eat.

Non-food items can be risky for a dog to chew and swallow. If these items get stuck in the stomach or intestinal tract, your dog will need to undergo serious surgery. With this operation, foreign bodies are removed from the stomach or intestines.

Dogs experiencing foreign body obstruction will have no vomiting, diarrhea, or stool output. Despite all the drugs, these dogs cannot recover without removing the foreign body and their condition is constantly getting worse. Your veterinarian will want to take x-rays and medicated x-rays to make sure of this. In some cases, despite these examinations, the foreign body cannot be detected and advanced imaging methods are used. (CT AND MRI)

Pica in dogs can manifest itself in several ways:

  • Ingestion of non-food products
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tiredness
  • Anorexia

Stress and separation anxiety, boredom or loneliness can lead to unusual behaviors like pica. Stressed or irritable dogs can develop compulsive disorders that manifest as behaviors such as pica. It’s important to make sure your dog gets enough exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day. A tired dog is a happy dog.

In some cases, pica can be an attention-seeking behavior. Dogs may also swallow objects as a form of competition. For example, if you are trying to grab objects from your dog’s mouth, they may swallow it to keep you from taking the object.

Make sure your dog is mentally and physically stimulated. You should train your dog to remove the stimuli that cause stress from their environment and to let go of objects when necessary.

As you understand, pica is a very serious and potentially fatal condition. If you think your dog has pica, you should go to a veterinarian before it’s too late to find out the cause and have it treated.

Treatment Options for Eating Disorders in Dogs

Eating Disorders in Dogs

Treatment options for canine eating disorders may vary depending on the causes of the eating disorders. If the dog is affected by a health problem, the eating disorder may go away once that problem is resolved.

Other treatment options for canine eating disorders may include:

  • Providing the dog with an adequate amount of exercise and mental stimulation
  • No free feeding (can be a solution to overeating)
  • If you have a multi-dog household, feed the dog separately (to prevent gluttony)

In some cases, eating disorders may improve without any treatment. For example, a pika puppy can no longer eat litter or other non-food items when he grows up and learns to distinguish between food and other items.

Eating disorders affect a surprisingly large number of dogs. It is thought that eating disorders in dogs may be due to how mealtimes are handled at home. While many believe the dog just has a grumpy stage that will pass, it’s best to keep an eye on your dog.

Deciding whether the cause of an eating disorder in dogs is behavioral, medical, or nutritional can be difficult. That’s why you need to have regular check-ups to keep your pets healthy.


Why won’t my dog ​​eat his food anymore?

Anorexia in dogs should be checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible, as it can be a symptom of many important diseases, including cancer, various systemic infections, pain, liver problems and kidney failure.

Does my dog have an eating disorder?

If your dog eats too much, has no appetite, or eats feces and foreign bodies, yes your dog has an eating disorder. The cause must be investigated and treated by a veterinarian.

Why is my dog always hungry?

A sudden increase in appetite in a dog can be a sign of certain diseases. Especially diabetes, Cushing’s syndrome and some parasitic infections can cause an increase in appetite.

How can I stop my dog from eating feces?

Coprophagia (stool eating) is best corrected by preventing access to feces, thoroughly cleaning the pet’s belongings, and keeping the pet under constant surveillance while outside. In order for the solution to be permanent, the underlying cause must be treated.

What causes anorexia in dogs?

Loss of appetite in dogs can be caused by systemic diseases, stress, changing routines, changes in the environment, or undesirable/tasteless food.

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