Rescue Journal

food issues...

Carol  ·  May 21, 2015

you know its not just dogs who can have food issues..people can too. and sometimes human food issues can affect dogs too.

consider this...

many years ago..(like I had this sweet young black lab/retriever cross. I placed him in an animal loving home with a very good, very responsible and active family. a year later, I get a call..he is growling and snapping at the kids over his food bowl.

I hike on over for a visit and I see a lean, perfect weight specimen of a dog. his food is measured to the milligram of his daily ideal intake need. and I also see a very anxious and upset dog who the text books say is perfectly fed but who actually in reality feels like he is always hungry.

food had become an issue for him because he felt it was a limited resource that was never quite enough.

I refuse to get into arguments with folks who treat food as something requiring the ultimate control of a dedicated owner with a food science nutritional degree. I am more interested in not what the vets or the research say..I am interested in what the animal has to say...and sometimes they say that despite what the nutritional charts say...they feel deprived and hungry.

a chronically hungry dog is a frustrated dog, it is also an anxious dog. and chronically frustrated anxious dogs are likely to snap at kids near their food bowls.

I tried to talk to the family about feeding the dog more, not worrying too much about a few extra pounds and possibly increasing his exercise to help deal with that. but basically what they said was there was no way on gods green earth that their dog would ever be allowed to be fat. he was at the perfect weight for his size and his age and that was where he was going to stay.

since they were not willing to feed him more and they were not willing to keep a snappy, frustrated dog..I took him back. I fed him enough so he felt he wasn't hungry and I adopted him out a while later to a wonderful lady who cooked for him lovely meals every day.

the last time I saw him a couple of years later, he was pleasantly plumb and right back to being the sweet and gentle and happy dog that I remembered

glad I got it right the second time around.

I watched a Caesar milan video where he was dealing with a food aggressive yellow lab..that dog was vicious around food and she was also lean and the ideal weight. I wondered why he didn't see that she was freaking out over her food because she felt chronically denied and hungry?

my point is this..I don't know why some dogs like some people need a bit extra to feel satisfied. but I do know that dogs and people come in all kinds of different sizes and from all kinds of different backgrounds and experiences with all kinds of different metabolisms. and I know that all living creatures are unique.

I know that certain breeds...esp labs, cockers, retrievers, daxies and beagles are way more likely to be food freaks than poodles, yorkies or collies.

and I also know that while extra weight is not ideally healthy..neither is feeling chronically frustrated and anxious just for the sake of looking perfectly lean.

interestingly enough I have run into this issue many times before...and while some of the people involved were in perfect physical shape..just as many times, the people were carrying more than a few extra pounds themselves.

and I realized something...people get to choose how much or how little or what kind of foods they want to eat..dogs eat what we say they need.

I think for some food freak dogs, a few less pounds are not worth every day feelings of want, need and hunger pain. body has to be perfect, not even a dog's body..being not perfectly perfect within reason is actually perfectly ok.


Wendy Scott

Thanks Carol for the update . I know she has settled in and is loved and taken care of. Worried that when Smokey passed she would not handle him gone. Thank you for all you do and all the Saints staff . God bless you all !

laura b

Murphy says this post just made me get up and go and get him a treat :-)


she is doing ok wendy...she is pretty old now. she has a few lumps and bumps, a couple are concerning but we are not doing anything about them as she is far too old for surgery. at this stage in her life it is all about comfort and tender loving care.

Wendy Scott

Hi Carol, how is Ewok doing ? I know she has mobility issues, but know you are giving medication. Just wanted some news . Hope all is well. Take care


I have jokingly referred to my 9.5 yr. old terrier's recent increased crankiness as due to the reduced diet I've put him on - I know I get cranky/crankier when I'm trying to lose weight, so why wouldn't the dogs as well. Eating good food is one of the great pleasures in life, so your post totally makes sense to me!


Great post Carol. I have never thought about this but I certainly understand how it could happen.


not good...she eats for a day following a steroid injection but once it wears off, she stops eating again. the vets have been coming every day again.


I told a client that her cat was becoming aggressive because he was hungry when I went to visit twice a day. She was feeding both cats about a tablespoon (Not heaping either) of wet twice a day and about 6 pieces of dry food on top. The one cat was much smaller but the male cat was a bigger build and was hungry ALL the time and started attacking my feet and legs. I could see from the way the fridge shelves were labelled they were eating a certain way themselves. The poor cat was losing weight and looked too skinny over time. She didn't like what I had to say so I'm not her sitter anymore. Even a vet would not agree with what she is doing.


It happens in the rabbit world too.
People obsess of 1/4 teaspoon per pound of pellets or restrict them to only hay and completely deny them the occasional dalliance of making off with a nacho chip or piece of cookie etc.
They also ignore that certain breeds have a stronger affinity for food than other breeds.
It's sad because when people do that to animals, they are holding them up to an ideal and forgetting that they are individuals.
For them like any animal, food is a big part of their life.


100% agree! They're called "guidelines" for a reason. Btw how is Annie??