Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 5:19 pm | Light Rain Fog/Mist 55º


Inquisitive Canine: Vegetables Can Help Ease Between-Meal Hunger Pains

Canines have been bred to eat whenever food is available; a healthier choice could be a snack with some crunch

Dear Poncho,

Why am I so hungry? I get four and a half cups of food a day, and it’s still not enough. My mom tried to give me more than this, but then I had a problem with gas. I’m just a hungry boy. What else can she feed me to help satisfy my hunger? I do weigh 77 pounds now, so I have gained a little weight but I still feel and look hungry!

Joan Mayer and her sidekick, Poncho
Joan Mayer and her sidekick, Poncho

By the way, I am being fed a hypoallergenic diet because my veterinarian thinks I have food allergies.

Thank you for your advice, T.J.

Dear T.J.:

Sounds like you have your mom trained to feed you something every time you ask. Perfect!!! I should be so lucky. I’m similar to you, T.J., in that I’m always up for having a meal or snack. But since my mom is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer she figured me out long ago ... so no extra tidbits for me.

I’d be happy to share with you what I’ve learned. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include us dogs getting to eat as much as we want whenever we want — so brace yourself.

First off, your voracious appetite could be health related. There are some illnesses that could cause you to be hungry all the time. Neither my mom nor I are veterinarians or any type of canine nutrition specialist, so the first thing your mom will want to do is take you for a check-up with your own veterinarian to determine if you have some sort of health issue. I know my mom would want to have me checked out by my doctor. Sure, it’s not the most fun, but if in the long run it helps you, it’s worth it.

Crunchy vegetables such as carrots, zucchini and bell peppers can be your dog's best friend when it comes to snacks.
Crunchy vegetables such as carrots, zucchini and bell peppers can be your dog’s best friend when it comes to snacks.

Also, regarding your “allergies,” did you have all of the fancy tests to help determine you have actual allergies or sensitivities? Or is everyone just speculating? I’d find out from your mom if your doctor determined your condition after performing actual allergy tests. If not, then you’ll definitely want to have the tests done. Otherwise it’s just guessing. Again the tests are not a lot of fun, but with the information, they’ll have definitive answers. And who knows, it may open the door to a wider variety of food choices for you.

In any event, we doggies come with some genetically programmed information, which could be the real reason you have such an insatiable appetite. You see, long ago, our doggy descendants lived out in the wild, not knowing when they would eat, how much they would get, or if they would ever find another meal again ... so they learned to eat whenever and whatever they could. Something about survival mode.

It seems our domestic brains haven’t changed much. Even though we dogs get meals all the time, and we should be full, our DNA says otherwise. Our brains are wired in a way that tell us we need to eat, whenever we can. So we’re just doing what many normal dogs do. However, I know some pooches out there don’t act like us. I’ve even heard about some dogs that are “free feeders.” Ha! Try putting steak in their bowls, then see how much is left over!

In the meantime, I can give you some suggestions for healthy snacks that your mom can give you, based on the types of yummies my mom gives me. Just make sure you’re getting your recommended daily allowances of all your vitamins. You can double check with your veterinarian on what should be included in your diet.

Vegetables! Yep, that’s right. I love veggies. No arguments here about finishing all of my veggies. My favorites include organic cucumbers (including the peel), bell peppers, zucchini, jicama and carrots. Those don’t upset my tummy or give me Mr. Stinkies, unlike broccoli and cauliflower (mom learned the hard way with that one after I crawled into bed with her).

Anyway, I get to eat more, but they are lower in calories so I don’t put on weight. Since I’m a smaller dog, I need to be more careful. I enjoy them cooked or raw, depending on the veggie. Mom will give me my veggies in my bowl, and the rest of my meal out of my special food toys.

Anyway, after your mom checks with your doctor, and they determine that your diet is healthy, your weight is appropriate, and all is fine physically, I’d say have her add in veggies, or other healthy snacks that you like and the doctor approves of, into your diet. Maybe she can even feed you some of these healthy snacks in interactive food toys.

One final thought about your question of “Why?” and how it pertains to you “looking like you’re hungry” might be that you’ve trained your mom to reward this behavior. All of us animals offer behaviors that “pay off,” right? So it could be a cyclic phenomenon: you offer a behavior that your mom “reads” as you being hungry, she feeds you. You offer it again, she feeds you, again. And so on ...

This is a perfect example of how us dogs make good “human trainers.” Let me know when you start teaching classes, I’d like to sign up.

— Dear Inquisitive Canine is written by Joan Mayer and her trusty sidekick, Poncho. Joan is a certified pet dog trainer and dog behavior counselor. Her column is known for its simple common-sense approach to dog training and behavior, as well as its entertaining insight into implementing proven techniques that reward both owner and dog. Joan is also the founder of The Inquisitive Canine, where her love-of-dog training approach highlights the importance of understanding canine behavior. If you or your dog have questions about behavior, training or life with each other, e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >