Eating gives as much pleasure to most pets as it does to people. But while some pets just don't know when to stop, others may be suffering from an underlying medical problem. Here's what you should know if your pet eats excessively.
Most pets pack on the pounds for perfectly healthy reasons such as pregnancy, growth or braving the cold weather. Behavioral factors also can cause pets to chow down. When a new family member or pet joins the household, for example, some competitive pets feel the urge to devour all the available food before someone else does. Other pets will eat more food while taking certain medications as well.
But if your pet overeats and doesn't gain weight, she may have a more serious underlying medical problem.
What You Can Do at Home
In general, pets who overeat because they can't resist those midnight cravings will gain weight. Other than their potential for obesity, these pets usually are healthy and won't exhibit other signs of illness.
If your pet has a paunch but is healthy otherwise, try to reduce the amount of food you offer to stop or reverse the weight gain. Or, offer a calorie-restricted, high-fiber diet. Cut out snacks and offer more exercise. Your veterinarian can answer questions and help you develop a strategy for slimming down your full-bodied friend.
Try feeding competitive eaters separately from other pets and lavish your anxious pals with extra attention to help them if they're adjusting to a new family member.
When to Call the Veterinarian
If your ravenous pet maintains her weight, loses weight or exhibits any other symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea or increased thirst and urination, she needs to see a doctor - and soon. Uncovering medical causes of overeating can be difficult and time consuming, so a prompt evaluation is crucial.
What the Veterinarian May Do
Your veterinarian may weigh your pet to check for weight loss or gain. The doctor may also ask about your pet's diet, environmental factors and symptoms and may perform a thorough physical examination. If the doctor can't find an obvious cause, your pet may need a fecal exam, blood and urine tests, and X-rays. Your veterinarian can discuss treatment options once he or she makes a final diagnosis.
Many conditions can cause your pet's voracious appetite, but most are treatable.