Many factors play a role in how hungry your Shih Tzu is.
We will explore possible reasons for this.
Not all of them are signs to worry, it might be quite normal for your Shih Tzu to be incessantly hungry in some instances.
Why Is My Shih Tzu Always Hungry?
Shih Tzu’s eat surprisingly more than larger breed dogs. There are several factors to consider when your Shih Tzu is always hungry. Increased activity, lack of nutrients, even boredom play a role. We will explore these in more detail, as well as other important factors.
- 1 Why Is My Shih Tzu Always Hungry?
- 2 Is My Shih Tzu Genuinely Hungry Or Just Acting/Begging?
- 3 How To Identify Signs Of Real Hunger?
- 4 How To Identify Signs Of Acting/Begging?
- 5 How To Discourage & Stop Acting/Begging?
- 6 Why Does My Shih Tzu Dog Act Hungry/Starving All The Time? [Top 10 Reasons]
- 7 Critical Health Issues That Can Cause A Shih Tzu To Be Unusually Hungry
- 8 Should Shih Tzus Eat A Lot (More Than Other Small Breed Dogs)?
- 9 How Much Food Should A Shih Tzu Eat A Day [Puppy, Adult, Senior]?
- 10 How Many Times A Day Should Shih Tzus Eat [Puppy, Adult, Senior]?
- 11 Why Does My Puppy Always Act Like He’s Starving?
- 12 (0, 1 Month Old) Puppy Always Hungry, How Much & How Often To Feed?
- 13 (2, 3 Months Old) Puppy Always Hungry, How Much & How Often To Feed?
- 14 (4, 5 Months Old) Puppy Always Hungry, How Much & How Often To Feed?
- 15 (6, 7 Months Old) Puppy Always Hungry, How Much & How Often To Feed?
- 16 (8, 11 Months Old) Puppy Always Hungry, How Much & How Often To Feed?
- 17 Why Is My Puppy So Hungry All Of A Sudden?
- 18 Should I Keep Feeding My Puppy Who Is Always Hungry?
- 19 Signs That My Puppy Is Eating Enough (Ribs, Waistline, Abdomen)?
- 20 Signs That My Puppy Is Eating Too Much (Ribs, Waistline, Abdomen)?
- 21 Why Is My Adult Dog Always Hungry All Of A Sudden?
- 22 Why Is My Senior Dog Always Hungry/Begging For More Food All Of A Sudden?
- 23 How Do I Know If I’m Feeding My Dog Enough?
- 24 What Can I Give My Dog To Make It Feel Full?
- 25 How To Deal With A Dog That Is Always Hungry
- 26 Dog Always Hungry And Panting (Cushing’s Syndrome?)
- 27 How Can The Vet Treat Increased Appetite In Dogs [Do Dogs Recover]?
- 28 How Can I Help My Dog Stop Always Feeling Hungry?
- 29 No Table Scraps
- 30 Consistent Feeding Schedule
- 31 No Human Food
- 32 Avoid Overfeeding
- 33 Distract Your Dog
- 34 Use Their Desire For Food As A Training Opportunity
Is My Shih Tzu Genuinely Hungry Or Just Acting/Begging?
This is a popular query among all dog owners. The answer, however, might not be as straightforward since it would require some deduction on your part. Who would know your Shih Tzu better than you?
You’ll need to consider whether you are feeding your dog enough. If you are, it might be possible that your dog knows that if he begs long enough, he’ll get more tasty food. We’ll break it down for you in more detail along the way.
How To Identify Signs Of Real Hunger?
Firstly, let’s look at some clear signs that your dog is really hungry. Consider the following things.
- If you are consistent with not giving your dog table scraps and he has learned not to beg, it might be a sign that he is really hungry.
- On the other hand, if you have been inconsistent with giving your dog table scraps, he might just be trying his luck.
- If you are giving your dog the proper amount of food for his weight and in a consistent manner, your dog is probably just begging for more tasty treats.
- However, if your dog has been getting more exercise lately, and you have not enlarged his portions accordingly, he might be hungry. Since he is burning more calories through exercise, he will need more food to keep him satiated.
How To Identify Signs Of Acting/Begging?
Let’s look at some signs that your dog is merely begging for food.
- If you have been using table scraps and treats as a way to appease your dog when he barks or whines, this will have incentivized him to continue with his bad behavior.
- It could also be that your dog is bored. We humans aren’t much different, we like to munch when we are bored. The same type of behavior occurs with dogs. Try and distract him and see if the begging stops.
How To Discourage & Stop Acting/Begging?
It is very important to stop begging behavior immediately before it gets harder to unlearn for your dog. Here are some great ways you can stop this kind of behavior dead in its tracks.
- If you have tried ignoring your dog’s begging, but at some point, it becomes too persuasive, try keeping your dog out of the dining room or kitchen during meal times.
- Consistently say no, otherwise your dog will get confused with the mixed signals and continue trying.
- Use training commands like ‘go to bed’ to train your dog to wait for the meal to be done before he seeks attention again.
- Remember to reward your dog for his good behavior.
- Give it time. Habits aren’t created overnight.
Why Does My Shih Tzu Dog Act Hungry/Starving All The Time? [Top 10 Reasons]
- Under Portioning Meals. If you are not following the dietary requirements for your dog and giving him the correct portions for his size and breed, he will most likely still be hungry after his meals.
- Too Many Snack Times. If you’re giving your dog too many snacks in between meals, his appetite will increase. He will expect this to continue and will start begging for them more regularly.
- Food Fillers. If their food contains too many fillers that are successful in satiating them for a while but neglects their dietary needs, they will beg for food to try and acquire their needed nutrients. Their body will try and get these nutrients by asking for more food.
- Increased Activity. If your dog is more active than usual his appetite will increase accordingly. For example, if you are taking them on walks more regularly, they will need more food to replenish their energy levels.
- Strong Urge To Chew. It might be that your dog just has the urge to chew something and is consequently constantly begging for food. To curb this, you can try buying them a chew toy to play with within these instances.
- Eating Too Quickly. It’s possible that your dog is eating too quickly and therefore begs for more food before his stomach registers that it is full.
- Boredom. It might just be that your dog is bored and looking for something to do. Begging for food might be the first thing that jumps in his mind. This is especially true if he sees you eating or working with food.
- Seeking Attention. Similar to the previous reason, your dog might simply be seeking your attention. Try distracting him or playing with him to get his mind off begging.
- Overeating. The more your dog eats, the more his appetite increases. If you see that your dog has started to become overweight, yet he is still hungry, it might be time to put him on a stricter diet.
- Underlying Health Condition. If you have explored all these options and none of them seems to apply to your Shih Tzu, they may have an underlying health condition. Contact your vet for an appointment to further inspect the matter.
Critical Health Issues That Can Cause A Shih Tzu To Be Unusually Hungry
- Cushing’s Syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by an overproduction of the hormone cortisol due to a malfunction in the adrenal glands. This can cause an increase in appetite and thirst.
- Canine Diabetes. An increase in appetite is caused by insulin-related tumors. A common feature is that your dog will lose weight along with an increased appetite.
- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. Although this disease is rare among Shih Tzu, it is important to consider all possibilities. In this case, not enough enzymes are produced by the pancreas to help digest the food. This then causes the dog to be constantly hungry due to the lack of nutrients being absorbed.
- Imbalance of Gut Bacteria. The imbalance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the dog’s small intestines causes nutrients to be inefficiently absorbed in the body and in turn, is likely to cause your dog’s appetite to increase.
Should Shih Tzus Eat A Lot (More Than Other Small Breed Dogs)?
Small breeds like Shih Tzu’s can ironically require more calories per pound than larger breed dogs. On average larger breeds consume around 30 calories per pound, whilst Shih Tzu’s consume between 35 to 50 calories per pound.
The range depends on how active your dog is which will require that they consume more calories to replenish the burnt-out ones. The calories are measured including all the bones, treats, and meals they consume in a day.
How Much Food Should A Shih Tzu Eat A Day [Puppy, Adult, Senior]?
Puppies require more calories per pound because they are eating to gain, and not maintain, weight. They need about 55 calories per pound, per day. So, it’s very normal for them to be hungry more often.
Shih Tzu adults require, on average, 40 calories per pound. Again, this depends on how active they are during the day.
Senior dogs on the other hand tend to eat less due to more inactivity and health issues. Their teeth are generally more sensitive to hard foods; therefore, they may be less inclined to eat to prevent toothaches.
How Many Times A Day Should Shih Tzus Eat [Puppy, Adult, Senior]?
Puppies should eat about four times a day. This is because they are more active, their metabolisms are faster, and their stomachs are smaller. So, they may eat less at a time but more frequently throughout the day.
Adult dogs should eat about three meals a day and their portions can be a bit bigger. They need fewer calories, on average than puppies but they still need enough to maintain their weight and activity levels.
Senior dogs need a lot fewer calories per day and their general inactivity contributes to this. One big meal, or two smaller meals, per day, should suffice their dietary needs.
Why Does My Puppy Always Act Like He’s Starving?
Puppies are energetic little balls of fire. They love to play and therefore use up a lot more energy and calories throughout the day. The fact that they also have a fast metabolism and need to gain weight, plays a big role in their unsatiated appetites. Puppies need a lot more calories, regularly, throughout the day. So, it’s very plausible that they might be hungry more often.
(0, 1 Month Old) Puppy Always Hungry, How Much & How Often To Feed?
During the first month, it is very important that your puppy is still nursing from his mother. She has important nutrients that the puppy can only get from nursing. Don’t try to get him to solid food too soon. Rather wait until the mother shows no interest in nursing the puppy, or the puppy shows interest in puppy kibble.
(2, 3 Months Old) Puppy Always Hungry, How Much & How Often To Feed?
At this stage, you can start free feeding your puppy. By this I mean, leaving an unlimited amount of food in a bowl and letting your puppy eat as much and as frequently as he wants to. This way he can eat whenever he is hungry and gain the necessary weight, and you can measure how much he is eating throughout the day.
Don’t continue with this past 12 weeks. Have regular weight checks with your vet to ensure that his growth is suitable and that he is not over- or underweight.
(4, 5 Months Old) Puppy Always Hungry, How Much & How Often To Feed?
At this point, you can feed your puppy three to four meals per day. This means that their meals are more controlled than with the free-feeding stage. Take into account if your puppy is over- or underweight and if he is growing properly. Remember, puppies generally eat more than adults and seniors, so don’t worry too much if their appetites are increasing.
(6, 7 Months Old) Puppy Always Hungry, How Much & How Often To Feed?
As they are slowly approaching their adult stage, they can move to two meals per day. They will stick to this meal routine throughout their adult lives.
(8, 11 Months Old) Puppy Always Hungry, How Much & How Often To Feed?
Between 9 and 12 months, Shih Tzu’s are seen to be at the beginning of their adult stage. During this time, you can start incorporating adult food so they can slowly adjust to their new diet.
Why Is My Puppy So Hungry All Of A Sudden?
Puppies are energetic and still growing. It is very normal for them to be hungry most of the time. If your puppy seems to have developed an increased appetite out of nowhere, check to see if there have been any differences in his behavior.
If he has been more hyper than usual, it is very likely that this is causing the increase in hunger. If he seems to be gaining too much weight, it may be that he is overeating. If none of these applies, rather check in with your vet to see if there might be an underlying health issue.
Should I Keep Feeding My Puppy Who Is Always Hungry?
Puppies tend to eat more than their adult counterparts. Since their stomachs are also much smaller, they eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day and because their metabolisms are much faster, they will digest their food very quickly.
So, it is very normal for your puppy to have a raging appetite. You can try giving them smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. Unless there are signs that they are overeating such as starting to look overweight, there should be no cause for worry.
Always consult your vet if there are any signs of ill health.
Signs That My Puppy Is Eating Enough (Ribs, Waistline, Abdomen)?
Besides taking your puppy to the vet to assess his weight and growth, there are some signs you can look for that shows that your puppy is eating enough.
- His spine (waistline), ribs, and bones are visible from afar.
- To ascertain if your dog is too skinny, look at him from above. If the curve between their hips and ribs is very prominent, it might mean that your dog is underweight.
- If your dog is NOT eating enough, he will have a low energy level and his coat may lack soft fur.
Signs That My Puppy Is Eating Too Much (Ribs, Waistline, Abdomen)?
If your dog is overweight, the following may be tell-tale signs.
- If it is hard to feel your dog’s ribs, when not pressing too hard, because of too much fat in between.
- If your dog has a swinging stomach or his waist is hanging when you look at him from the side.
- It is common for overweight dogs to have fat pads on the top of their hips.
Why Is My Adult Dog Always Hungry All Of A Sudden?
It might be that your dog has been more active lately and subsequently, his appetite has increased. If the reason is not applicable to your situation, here is a list of other possible reasons.
- You are overfeeding your dog.
- Your dog has developed a bad habit of begging for food.
- Your dog is pregnant or lactating.
- Your dog is stressed.
- Your dog has an unbalanced diet.
- Your dog has an infection.
- Your dog has a hormone-related disease like diabetes.
- It could be the effect of some medications, for example, a thyroid supplement.
Why Is My Senior Dog Always Hungry/Begging For More Food All Of A Sudden?
During the senior stage of a dog’s life, medical issues start to torture our four-legged friends. This is why it is very important to ensure that they are constantly getting a sufficient amount of nutrients. However, if your dog has a nutritional deficiency, he might be hungrier than usual as his body looks to compensate for the lack of nutrients.
Another cause, prominent in older dogs, is diabetes. This disease causes your dog to be unable to properly make use of carbohydrates in his diet. This lack of nutrients will cause your dog to overeat whilst possibly still losing weight.
Another common cause is parasites like roundworms, hookworms, and heartworms. These pesky organisms live off of your dog’s ingested meals and leave his body with a lack of nutrients. This is the most common cause among dogs.
Be sure to contact your vet for further inspection if there are any signs that worry you.
How Do I Know If I’m Feeding My Dog Enough?
Dogs that have an “hourglass” figure when looking from above, are considered to be at a healthy weight and therefore are being fed the right amount of food.
If your dog starts to lose weight and looks bony, it is a clear sign that he is not being fed enough. It could also point to other medical conditions causing the sudden drop in weight.
On the other hand, if your dog is gaining weight and has a swinging stomach and his ribs are hard to feel because of the fat in between, it is clear that your dog is being fed too much.
What Can I Give My Dog To Make It Feel Full?
Fiber is a good nutrient to add to your dog’s meals to help them feel fuller for longer. Dogs can’t digest fiber and therefore stays in their stomach for the entire digestive process. A bonus is that it not only keeps them fuller for longer but also doesn’t add any calories to their diet.
Also, be wary of any dog food that says “popped” as it is filled with air and will digest rather quickly. Wet dog food has a similar effect, as the water digests faster than the food and will not keep your dog full for long.
Focus on giving your dog nutrient-rich food and compensate with fiber to add to its fullness.
How To Deal With A Dog That Is Always Hungry
We have 4 top tips to help you curb your dog’s cravings.
- Trim Your Dog’s Treats. Wean your dog of regular treats over time. Rather try to keep them busy or make them work for their treats.
- Offer The Right Amount Of Food. Make sure you are not giving your dog too much, or too little, food. Too much food can increase their appetite over time. Whilst, too little food can cause them to be hungry in between meals.
- Give Them Nutrient-Rich Meals. Pack your dog’s meals with the right amount of nutrients their body needs. This will ensure that the body doesn’t end up craving more food in an attempt to gather more nutrients.
- Identify Possibly Health Issues. If you have tried all the previous tips to no avail, pay attention to any accompanying warning signs. It might be that your dog has a health issue that is causing this increase in hunger.
Dog Always Hungry And Panting (Cushing’s Syndrome?)
Cushing’s Syndrome is a health condition where the adrenal glands overproduce cortisol in the body. This can cause serious health concerns in your dog including, kidney damage and diabetes.
Here are some signs to look out for. Call your vet immediately for an appointment if there is cause for worry.
- Increased appetite,
- Excessive thirst or drinking,
- Hair loss,
- Frequent urination,
- Muscle weakness,
- Enlarged abdomen, and
- Panting &Lethargy
How Can The Vet Treat Increased Appetite In Dogs [Do Dogs Recover]?
Besides the dietary alterations mentioned throughout this piece, the vet can also prescribe medications to assist with dampening your dog’s appetite.
Dirlotapide is an oil-based appetite suppressant. Since it is a drug, it can only be prescribed by your vet after he has evaluated your dog. This drug creates the feeling of fullness in your dog and therefore decreasing his appetite.
Luckily, the effects of the drug will cease a couple of days after its last intake. This gives you enough time to instill healthy habits in your dog.
Alternatively, your vet will give medication related to the specific illness causing the increased appetite in your dog.
How Can I Help My Dog Stop Always Feeling Hungry?
No Table Scraps
No matter how persuasive your Shih Tzu can get, do not give in to their begging. Otherwise, you will create a habit in your dog where he will try his luck every time in the hopes of getting some table scraps.
Consistent Feeding Schedule
Make sure to stick to a feeding routine for your dog. This will help them get in the habit of knowing when it is time to eat. Other times are set out for play or sleep. This way their bodies will also get used to their feeding times and adapt accordingly.
No Human Food
Avoid feeding your dog human food as this will only create more want for the taste of human food. Your dog needs to know that there is designated food for him and the rest is not his. This way he will likely not beg for your scraps when you are eating.
Don’t overfeed your dog as this will only increase their appetite. If you see that your dog is becoming overweight try to trim down his meals and get his appetite under control.
Distract Your Dog
It may be that your dog is not necessarily hungry, but just bored. If your dog is begging for food outside his routine meal times, try to distract him with a game or a command. He may just be looking for some attention.
Use Their Desire For Food As A Training Opportunity
This can be a great opportunity to train your dog. When he begs for food, try giving him commands like “sleep”, “sit”, or “fetch”. Make your dog work for a treat. You can use their desire for food as a way to motivate them to follow your commands and train them.