Dog Eating Disorders

Eating disorders in dogs may be of different types including overeating or refusal to eat. The causes of canine eating disorders may be difficult to detect. However, these eating problems may be linked to an underlying physical condition or an emotional problem.

Types of Canine Eating Disorders

The canine eating disorders may be of several types:

  • Overeating, when the dog eats more than he needs
  • Lack of appetite, which can be a symptom of a medical problem ranging from an infection to tumors. Dogs with an emotional problem (i.e. separation anxiety or nervousness) can also eat less.
  • Pica, which means the dog eats different non food items and may be due to curiosity but may also signal boredom
  • Ingestion of feces, may be caused by curiosity or stress
  • Scoffing, when the dog eats the meals too fast, leading to digestive problems and may be due to stress or the fact that the dog fears he may lose the food

Causes of Dog Eating Disorders

The causes of dog eating disorders may be difficult to detect but may include:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • A disease (i.e. diabetes or hormonal problems, which can cause overeating)
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of mental stimulation leading to boredom
  • Curiosity (causing pica)

Symptoms of Dog Eating Disorders

You may notice your dog tends to eat less or more or any other eating discorders. There may also be other accompanying signs:

  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Digestion problems (vomiting, diarrhea or constipation)
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Depression
  • Scratching, biting or chewing of skin (due to boredom or stress)
  • Hair loss
  • Excessive thirst

Detecting Dog Eating Disorders

Dog eating disorders can be detected by monitoring your dog’s behavior and trying to find the cause of the eating disorder.

The vet will perform a number of tests that can determine if the dog is affected by a disease.

If the dog has a clean bill of health, the vet may only suspect a number of problems. Anxiety and stress are very difficult to detect and may only be given as diagnosis if the vet has ruled out other possible problems.

Treatment Options for Eating Disorders in Dogs

The treatment options for dog eating disorders may vary according to the causes of the eating disorders. If the dog is affected by a health issue, once this is solved, the eating disorder may also disappear.

Other treatment options for canine eating disorders may include:

  • Providing the dog with sufficient amount of exercise and mental stimulation
  • No free feeding (can be a solution for overeating)
  • Feeding the dog separately, if you have a multi dog household (to prevent scoffing)

In some cases, the eating disorders may resolve without any treatment. For instance a puppy with pica may no longer eat garbage or other non food items once he grows up and learns to differentiate between food and other items.