I don’t think a study has been done on this, but pound for pound, our dogs can out-eat the majority of us on any given day.
As amazing an appetite that your dog has, it can turn into a health risk for your dog if you are not careful.
A dog can easily gorge itself on food without having an ‘off’ switch, up to the point of not being able to walk properly.
This can cause a myriad of health issues such as vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and in serve cases, canine bloat. If your dog is showing adverse side effects from eating too much food, you need to take it to the vet for treatment before it becomes life-threatening.
Let us take a deeper look at the dangers that can happen when your canine friend gorges on dry dog food and how you can prevent it.
Why Is Your Dog Gorging On Food?
We know that our dogs are innately greedy but there’s good reason for such behavior.
Your dog is a direct descendant of the gray wolf. Even though it might not be howling at the moon every night, there’s still some wolf DNA left in it.
Wolves hunt their prey in packs and by chasing it down to the point of exhaustion.
Once the prey is dead, the wolves will eat as much as they can before the prey is picked clean to the bone by the pack.
It is mind-boggling to know that a wolf can eat up to 23 pounds of food in one sitting.
This allows the wolf to go for days or weeks without sustenance when food is scarce.
The same principle applies to your dog.
Despite many centuries of domestication, your dog’s lizard brain will kick in when it sees an abundance of food.
Your dog will start to gorge itself on food to the extent of being unhealthy.
The wolf in your dog is triggering the fear of not being able to find its next meal soon.
So it’s best to feast before the famine.
Certain dog breeds are also known to be gobblers and fast eaters such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers and Beagles.
What Happens If A Dog Eats Too Much Dry Food?
Truth be told, it is possible for your dog to overeat on almost any type of food. If your dog loves scavenging through the trash cans, it can eat whatever is in there.
A dog owner could have left a huge bag of cookies on the table and the dog went to town with it.
But the focus here will be on dry dog food which is the most common form of food for many dogs. More than 90% of dog owners use kibbles consistently in their dog’s meals.
The one thing that can make kibbles or dry dog food dangerous is the ability to expand when mixed with liquid.
In fact, kibbles can expand to more than TWICE their volume when wet. Some more than others.
Kibbles are so dried out that they become little sponges when mixed with water.
Imagine that your dog has eaten too much dry food than usual and took a big drink of water. The huge amount of incoming water can easily double the kibbles to twice the volume in your dog’s stomach.
This sudden expansion in your dog’s belly will make it feel very uncomfortable.
It is the same feeling you can get after eating a huge serving of pasta or pizza and drinking a mug of beer to wash everything down.
This huge amount of food in your dog’s body will make it feel lethargic and nauseous. Vomiting can also happen as the body tries to get rid of the excess food.
Your dog’s digestive system will also be under a lot of stress from having to digest so much food in the stomach. This can cause your dog to have chronic diarrhea and indigestion.
However, the biggest problem that you need to look out for here is canine bloat.
If left untreated, this condition can kill your dog.
What Are The First Signs Of Bloat In Dogs?
Canine bloat is also known as Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV). This happens when your dog’s stomach gets filled with too much food, air or water.
In this case, the expansion of the dry food will put extreme pressure on the vital organs resulting in failure of the kidneys, liver and cardiac arrest.
Furthermore, your dog won’t be able to absorb its food and poop properly. The stomach will eventually fold onto itself and cut off the blood circulation to that area.
What makes bloating in dogs so scary is that it can happen without much warning and progress quickly to be life-threatening.
It is important that you need to recognize the signs of canine bloat.
Symptoms of bloating in dogs include:
- Distress behavior
- Very swollen belly
- Excessive drooling
- Unable to stand
- Rapid breathing
- Shortness of breath
Your dog might even be looking up and stretching its neck to try and relieve the pressure in the abdomen area.
Can Food Bloat In Dogs Resolve Itself?
Assuming that your dog has just gorged itself to the point of being bloated, you can still try to resolve it on your own with induced vomiting.
Many dog owners will use hydrogen peroxide (3%) to induce vomiting in their dogs. This helps the dig to purge out some of the excess food and reduce the pressure in the stomach.
Please call your vet before making your dog vomit as it can do more harm than good in some cases. Your vet might prefer that you bring your dog in for treatment instead.
Induced vomiting only works well if it is done within 2 hours of the incident.
If more than 2 hours have passed and your is showing signs of canine bloat, you need to get your dog to the vet right away.
The vet will have to carry out a surgical procedure on your dog to resolve the bloat or it can turn fatal very quickly.
How Long Does Dog Food Bloat Last?
For non-serious bloating cases, the dog should be fine within a day or two. Your dog will be back to normal once its stomach settles.
But if your dog had a serious case of bloat that required surgery, it will take about a week or so for your dog to recover.
During this period, your can feed your dog a bland diet of chicken and rice to put less stress on the digestive system.
How Can I Prevent Canine Bloat In The Future?
The good thing is that you can help to prevent canine bloat in your dog by implementing the below steps.
Smaller And More Frequent Meals
There are some dogs that gobble down all their food without chewing much. They can polish off their food bowls in last than a minute.
If your dog is a fast eater, you can divide up your dog’s daily meal into smaller portions.
If you feed your dog twice a dog, divide it up into three meals instead.
Don’t portion it up into too many feedings or your dog will get hungry very quickly.
Another way is to use a slow feeder bowl.
These bowls are designed to slow down the eating speed of your dog by placing obstacles in the bowl. This will force your dog to take more time when having its meal.
Add Some Liquid To The Food
When feeding your dog dry food, you can soak the kibbles in some chicken broth or water before feeding it to your dog.
This can help to increase satiety and give it that sensation of fullness much faster.
Let your dog’s food sit in the liquid for 15-20 minutes before feeding your dog to allow them to fully expand.
Given that kibbles are capable of expanding to twice their size, you can afford to feed your dog lesser to make up for the increase in volume.
I often find the recommended feeding portions by pet food manufacturers to be too much anyways.
Maybe its to get us to finish the food faster and buy more from them?
Do Not Free Feed Your Dog
There are some dog owners that have the habit of pouring a huge portion of dry food in the dog’s good bowl before leaving for work.
This isn’t good and can cause your dog to overeat very easily.
Furthermore, if the weather is hot, kibbles can go bad in the heat and become contaminated.
If you are not around to feed your dog during its meal time, use an auto feeder than can be programmed to dispense the food at stipulated timings.
Feed Your Dog A Better Diet
I am not a fan of dry food as it’s full of fillers, grain and carbs. These are things that your dog does not need in its diet since it is a carnivore.
Feed your dog wet food or raw meat which is a lot more nutritious than dry food. Plus it won’t mysteriously expand in your dog’s stomach.
The portion that you feed will be the portion that will be in your dog.
How Do You Help A Dog That Overate?
If your dog has unknowingly overate but not to the point of requiring medical treatment, there are a few things that you can do to help ease the discomfort.
Take your dog out for a slow walk to help kick its digestive system up a notch. I like to take a long and slow walk after a heavy meal to help with my digestion.
Do not let your dog run or jump when it is so full as that can lead to canine bloat.
The thing that your dog doesn’t need now is more food.
It might still feel hungry but you can reduce the usual portion size to place less stress on its digestive system. Cut out any unnecessary foodstuff such as treats.
When so much food in your dog, it will need to use the toilet more often now. Take your dog out for more potty breaks and let it poop it out which will help make your dog feel better too.