Eating Disorders In Dogs

June 30th, 2022

When I hear eating disorders, I think of anorexia and bulimia in humans. But can eating disorders also affect our dogs?

Yes, eating disorders can affect our furry friends too. Animals have different reasons for unusual eating habits, which can be very troubling for their pet parents.

There are a few eating disorders that can affect dogs :

*Scoffing: dog eats his food too quickly, often without much chewing. It can lead to choking, bloat, gagging, and vomiting. There can be underlying medical issues. Dogs can be infected with parasites affecting their ability to absorb the nutrients from their food and making them hungrier. Scoffing is often associated with greedy behaviour, leading to aggressive behaviour if another pet or person comes near while the dog is eating. 

*Over-eating: overeats food daily. This behaviour can lead to obesity and complications from being overweight, heart diseases, kidney problems, diabetes, joint problems, and liver disease. Most dogs are opportunist eaters. They will eat what they can, when available, whether there are hungry on not. Over-eating is normal canine behaviour, so it’s up to you to regulate how much food your dog gets. 

*Coprophagia:  is relatively common in dogs. Coprophagia means that dogs are eating faeces, either their own or faeces of other dogs or cats’. Usually, it is behavioural, but there might also be numerous medical problems that can cause or contribute to coprophagia. Dogs might eat faeces to gather information, seek attention, poor nutrition, learned behaviour, or if they have parasites or pancreatic problems.

*Under-eating or Anorexia: Anorexia in dogs means not eating and losing appetite. Dogs may exhibit partial anorexia, which means they eat but do not get enough nutrition their bodies require. 

The main reasons for anorexia in dogs can be:

*Behavioural: being picky, bored with the same food, change in their diet, stress, depression, anxiety, separation anxiety

*Physical: pain, poor dental health, too many treats, and snacks, illness, an obstruction, digestive problems, gastrointestinal problems  

Not that common eating disorders:

*Pica: if your dog eats non-food inedible items such as rocks, grass, sticks, toys, and clothing. 

Most cases of pica are behavioural, but it is essential to rule out any medical conditions such as anaemia, parasites, liver disease, or malnutrition. Some behavioural reasons for pica are stress or anxiety, boredom, learned behaviour, and fear of punishment. Pica is often compulsive behaviour and, in most cases, won’t go away on its own. It can cause severe blockages in the digestive tract. 

Does your dog have any unusual eating habits?

My daughter’s dogs have coprophagia. And if not supervised, they would also over-eat any food they can get their paws on. My daughter must be cautious and store all the food safely.

Bea xx

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