Why is My Golden Retriever Always Hungry? Causes & Solutions


My golden retriever loves food more than anything, I believe that their favorite time in the whole day is whenever they get to eat anything.

They do like eating and she rarely ask for more food. However, lately, my pooch has been a lot hungrier than usual. It’s like she never gets full.

I got worried because she acted like she was starving even though she just ate and I decided to do my research to find out what could have possibly caused them to be this hungry, and here are the answers.

So, why is my golden retriever always hungry? Your Golden Retriever could be always hungry because they’re stressed, diabetic, ill, on a bad diet, have separation anxiety, been more active, getting older, or because they carry more copies of the gene POMC which makes your golden retriever hungrier & more food-motivated than normal.

This was a really short and quick answer, but to know what you should and how you can solve it, we need to dive in a bit deeper, so let’s do that…

Possible Reasons Why Your Golden Retriever is Always Hungry 

Golden retriever looking hungry at owner's food to explain the answers to why is my golden retriever always hungry

Here are the 8 possible reasons why your golden retriever seems to always be famished:

  1. They are not being fed enough 
  2. Diabetes 
  3. They are stressed 
  4. Separation anxiety 
  5. The wrong diet  
  6. The aging process 
  7. Illness 
  8. Medication reaction

We quickly need to go over each of these causes and see what you should know about it:

They are not being fed enough

One of the most obvious reasons is that they are simply not getting enough nutrition for their age. For example, if they are between 6 to 12 months then they probably need to switch from puppy to adult dog food, and you can learn how to switch goldens from puppy food to adult food in 7 days here.

Here’s how many calories your golden retriever needs at every age to help you out.

Weight6-12 Weeks3-4 Months5-7 Months8-12 Months
3 – 5 lbs 1 – 1 ⅓ cup¾ – 1 cup½ – ¾ cups ½ – ⅔ cups 
5 – 10 lbs 1 ⅓  –  2 ½ cups1 – 2 cups ¾ – 1 ½ cups ⅔ – 1 cups 
10 – 20 lbs 2 ½ – 4 cups2 – 3 ½ cups 1 ½ – 2 ⅔ cups 1 – 2 cups 
20 – 30 lbs 4 – 5 ¾ cups 3 ⅓ – 4 ½ cups2 ⅔ – 3 ⅔ cups2 -2 ¾ cups 
30 – 40 lbs 5 ¾ -7 cups 4 ½ – 5 ⅔ cups3 ⅔ – 4 ½ cups2 ¾ – 3 ⅓ cups

Here is another table with the calorific values your dog needs;

Active adult golden retriever 1, 300 to 1700 calories 
Senior golden retriever Around 900 calories 

Diabetes 

If your dog is suddenly hungry all the time, then they may be suffering from diabetes because it increases their appetite all of a sudden.

However, here are some other signs to help you know if they are suffering from diabetes.

  • Cloudy eyes 
  • Excessive water drinking 
  • Chronic infections such as skin infections or even urinary infections 
  • Increased urination 
  • They may also have decreased appetite 

In order to know for sure, you should take them to the vet and get them checked.

They are stressed

Dogs can stress eat just like us; they may be stressed if there are some changes happening in their life such as a new baby, moving to a new place, moving the furniture of the room (they can’t find their favorite spot anymore), or a new bowl. 

Separation anxiety 

If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, he can be stressed easily which will lead to stress eating again.

If they have separation anxiety they probably will show one or a few of these signs.

  • Pacing 
  • Digging 
  • Howling 
  • Escaping 
  • Urinating 
  • Chewing 
  • Coprophagia 
  • Destructive behavior 
  • Barking 
  • Defecating 

Have you been spending a lot of time away from them recently? Have they been staying alone at home for longer than usual recently? If so, then this could be the cause.

You can learn more about how to leave golden retrievers alone here and what to do in order to avoid giving them stress or anxiety while you are away.

The wrong diet 

One of the reasons why your golden retriever is always hungry could be that their diet does not have enough nutrients.

So here are some signs to know if your golden retriever is on a poor diet;

  • Body odor 
  • Excessive shedding 
  • Flatulence 
  • Bad breath 
  • Dandruff 
  • Hair loss
  • Dull coat 
  • Unusual bowel movements 
  • Obesity
  • Weight loss
  • Increased allergies
  • Skin disorders 

If you notice these signs, you should change their diet. Please avoid any fad diets, and you can always ask your vet for what is a good diet for your golden retriever. You can also check my recommendations for golden retriever foods here.

The aging process

If you have a senior dog or they are about to become seniors and they started to be always hungry, it’s probably the aging process and that’s the tricky part.

When your dog is about to become a senior, you should know that they should actually eat fewer calories because obesity becomes a much more serious risk and it could lead to many diseases.

Here are some signs to help you to know if your dog is hungry because of the aging process.

  • Increased barking 
  • Changes in their sleeping-waking cycle
  • Increased anxiety 
  • Fear of familiar people 
  • Increased vocalization 
  • Forgetting commands
  • Pacing at night 
  • Compulsive behaviors 
  • House soiling 
  • Cloudy eyes 
  • Slowing down 
  • A change in their weight 
  • Fear of familiar objects 
  • Forgetting cues that they used to know 
  • Marked change in their activity level 
  • Horrible breath 
  • New bumps 
  • Confusion 

I know someone reading this will be thinking that they can always tell their golden is getting old when their face starts turning white, but did you know that this could also happen for many reasons other than aging? You can learn about the 5 possible reasons your golden retriever’s face is turning white besides age here.

Illness

There are many diseases that could make your dog always hungry and if it happened all of a sudden then this is probably the reason why.

Here are some of the diseases that can make your golden retriever always hungry

  • Diabetes 
  • Hyperthyroidism 
  • Inflammatory bowel problems 
  • Cushing’s disease 
  • Intestinal cancer 
  • Bacterial overgrowth 

If you feel that your dog may be suffering from something, do not hesitate to take them to the vet as soon as you can.

Medication reaction 

If your golden retriever is on any medication, it could be one of the side effects, so if they suddenly became hungrier once they started taking a specific medicine then it’s probably the side effect and you can consult your vet about it.

Has Your Golden Suddenly Became Hungrier than Usual? 

If your dog is experiencing some kind of changes in his life, it can lead to changes in his appetite such as moving to a new place or even something small like changing where they eat, when they eat, or the bowl they eat in.

All of that could make your dog stressed and will make them hungrier than usual but after adjusting to new changes they will come back to normal.

However, if your dog is suddenly hungrier than usual, it’s usually not a good sign because it may be a sign for many diseases such as diabetes, bacterial growth in their intestines, hyperthyroidism, or Cushing’s disease. 

How to handle a hungry Golden Retriever? 

First of all, you need to take them to the vet to make sure that they are not hungry because of a medical condition such as thyroid issues or diabetes.

If they are physically fine and the real issue is just the hunger then you need to consult your vet on their actual dietary needs per day.

Then you can make a schedule for them and just stick to it and only give them treats when they earn it by doing a good job.

You can try one of the special bowls that have pillars in them to slow the gobbling. This one from the Outward hound is the best slow feeder plate I’ve ever tried, and you can check it out on Amazon here.

After you make the right schedule for them, leave the food down for them till the first time they walk away from the bowl then take the bowl away whether they ate everything or there’s still food in it.

However, if your golden retriever is around six months old, then the problem is more likely to be with their meal and you should consider the switch to the adult dog food at this age.

If you know someone who is struggling with their dog because they are always hungry, please share this article with them, it might be a helpful resource for them and I will appreciate it tons.

Related Questions 

Why do golden retrievers eat everything? 

Your golden retriever could be stressed, they did not eat enough, they may be suffering from separation anxiety, or they are not getting the right nutrients in their diet, it might be one or a few of these reasons, however, you will need to train them not to eat everything they crave.

Why is my dog hungry all of a sudden? 

Your dog could be suffering from polyphagia, which can be a result of abnormalities in the area of the brain that controls hunger, and it can be caused by a tumor, diabetes mellitus, stress, pancreatic insufficiency, trauma, parasitism,  infections, and hyperadrenocorticism.

Why is my senior dog always hungry? 

Your senior dog can be always hungry due to their aging process or it can be one of the symptoms of a medical condition such as diabetes, Cushing’s syndrome, however, you should not give them more food because they are hungry and take them to a regular check-up with their vet.

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Helpful Resources

5 Reasons Your Dog is Extremely Hungry

Why Dogs Eat… And Eat… And Eat

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