Does your English Bulldog seem to have a stomach that is a bottomless pit? If your pup would prefer and valley-sized food bowl and doesn’t seem to be able to feel ‘full,’ you’re not alone in this predicament. You could risk your dog’s health by overfeeding them, so it is vital to know why your bulldog is always hungry.
Why is your English bulldog always hungry? The seemingly insatiable hunger is because of evolutionary traits passed down from before canines were domesticated. In the wild, a dog did not know where their next meal would come from and their mentality was to eat as much as they could when they had food available. This remains today despite there being enough food on hand.
Just as humans sometimes eat when they are not hungry, dogs can’t distinguish for themselves when they are genuinely full or not. This guide will help you understand the psychology behind your dog’s behavior, how much to feed them, and other issues that could be causing their insatiable appetites.
Behavioral Psychology Behind Their Behavior
Uncontrollable hunger does not only plague English Bulldogs, as all canines have a reputation for eating whatever you put in front of them. Dogs are descended from wolves and can still take on the wolf-like mentalities that they had for centuries.
In the wild, dogs could go weeks at a time without eating, so any meal they found had to be devoured for sustenance. Even during hunter-gatherer society, humans and wolves were most likely co-existing and competing for the same resources, resulting in wolves having to scavenge for food.
As National Geographic says, “After modern humans arrived in Europe around 43,000 years ago, they pretty much wiped out every large carnivore that existed, including saber-toothed cats and giant hyenas.”
According to the ancestry of dogs, the kinder canines and wolves were embraced by humans, and we domesticated them to help us hunt. The trade-off was that the wolves would receive a portion of the rations from the humans – and thus, the relationship between man and man’s best friend was born!
Fast-forward about 40,000 years later, and dogs are still eating whatever we place in front of their noses.
Can You Overfeed Your English Bulldog?
Yes, you can overfeed your pup. Some of the health concerns and issues this will lead to are:
- Digestive irritation
- Rapid weight gain
- Joint pain
- Skeletal issues like osteochondrosis
- Hip Dysplasia
An interesting concept to consider is that perhaps your dog is hungry all of the time because of the learned behavior you’ve instilled. Dogs may seem hungrier because you offer them treats every time they gaze up at you. It’s a cycle of them knowing they can get more because you are always supplying more. In this sense, you may be training your dog to be hungry all the time.
How Much to Safely Feed Your English Bulldog
Animals cannot self-regulate their feeding, so for English Bulldogs, the feeding schedule should be as follows:
- Four smaller mealtimes while they are a puppy
- Three mealtimes around three months of age
- Two mealtimes per day for adults
For adults, the feedings should include around ½ cup to 2 cups per mealtime, for approximately 3-4 cups per day. You may need to change the amount due to their daily level of activity, age, weight, your dog’s size, etc.
Avoid grain-filled dog food as this is unnatural to what a canine’s biology can digest. This is the argument behind the Raw Diet craze, which you may consider learning more about if your dog continues to be incredibly hungry.
You can also read the packaging to get specific directions from the dog food manufacturer on how much they recommend as a serving size according to dog weight. Trust your instincts as you probably can visually distinguish how much food is too much food for your bulldog.
When in doubt, be sure they are getting around 3 cups a day, which could be broken up into three meals to keep them fuller longer and less hungry in between mealtimes.
More Serious Issues
Now, just because dogs are known for being bottomless pits does not mean that it is always a case of biology. If they are behaving irrationally gluttonous, it could be something worse than just hunger pains.
If your veterinarian tells you that your bulldog is healthy, you’ll know he’s only been giving you those puppy-dog eyes out of greed! But if it is something more serious, you will want to know before the issue worsens.
Some of the possible health-related issues behind why your bulldog is so incredibly hungry are:
- Your dog is not absorbing nutrients from their food correctly, or their body is rejecting the nutritional value within the food. (malabsorption)
- They are not getting enough protein or may require a partially raw diet.
- You are serving them a high-grain product.
- They’re getting older, and their appetite is changing.
- Bacterial infection in the gut or intestines
- Cushing’s Disease
- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
- A delayed reaction to medication they may be on
Dr. Jules Benson says, “Typically, the insatiable hunger can be attributed to canine biology, but it also can be a warning sign for a medical issue such as diabetes or Cushing’s diseases,” according to “Why Does My Dog Always Act Hungry?”
If there are any major or sudden shifts in your dog’s appetite, always consult your local veterinarian to be sure it’s not something more serious. It could be nothing, but you will feel more relieved after confirming that with a professional.
Food Aggression Is Not Okay
On a related note, if your pet is displaying the following behaviors at mealtime, it could point to your canine having food aggression:
- Protective over food
- Growling when you come near the bowl
- Snaps at you or shows teeth
- Extending threats
This is not tolerable behavior, and it is not related to health issues or nutrients not being absorbed properly. Food aggression is 100% psychological. It needs to be dealt with because you have a bulldog that thinks they run the house. This aggression comes from the wolf and pack-days when the alpha would eat before the other wolves.
As the dog behavioralist, Cesar Millan puts it, “Remember, in the wild, dogs never know where or when their next meal will be, so it’s very instinctual for them to gobble up whatever food there is whenever they have it — and to protect it from anything that approaches.”
Reassert Yourself as Alpha
To reassert yourself as alpha and assist these issues:
- Set a consistent time to feed them each day so they stop feeling like their food will never reappear. Let them know another meal is always coming by staying on a schedule.
- Make them do tricks or ‘earn’ the food to assert yourself as the leader to be followed. Let them know that food comes from you.
- If they are afraid or timid, let them know that they can feel safe eating around humans.
- Don’t lift their bowl or try to interrupt mealtime until they are finished eating and leave the bowl by their own will.
Because humans and dogs have been partners for such a prolonged duration of history, our species are connected in a way that no other two species are. Your dog has acquired a taste for your carbs, pasta, and table scraps. Just because agriculture and domestication have taught your little wolf some new cravings does not mean that you can satisfy those cravings every time.
The main reason that your dog begs for food is that they know that their cuteness works. Your dog is smart enough to realize the patterns that begging will get them treats. Realize that you may be part of the problem in this sense and alter your behavior without self-judgment.
If you want to learn more about English Bulldogs or other types of Bulldogs, then consider checking out this Bulldog Handbook on Amazon.