Will Puppies Overeat?

Like human babies, your puppy depends on you 100%, which puts the responsibility for their health and welfare directly on your shoulders. One of the most important responsibilities of being a puppy parent is to feed your puppy a well-balanced, healthy diet. That way, your precious pupper will grow into a healthy, happy, and well-balanced adult dog.

The thing about feeding a puppy is that you also have to know how much to feed them, when to feed them, etc. If you feed puppies too much, they could become obese and suffer from health problems that obesity typically causes. If you feed your puppy too little, you can expect them to start chewing up anything they can find to get more food in their belly. 

In short, it’s up to you to know how much to feed your precocious pup so that they get the most nutritional benefits with the least amount of health problems. For some new puppy parents, though, that might be challenging, especially those who leave their puppy home all day while they go to work.

The problem is that you’ll need to leave food out for the entire day so that your puppy has access to it. That can cause a situation that I hear about: puppy overeating. The question is, will puppies overeat, or do most know when enough food is enough?

The short answer is that, yes, puppies will occasionally overeat. Indeed, some will eat until they’re so full they need to vomit to relieve the pressure in their belly! Some pups will eat until there’s nothing left in their bowl, or they get nauseous. 

However, some puppies will only eat until they’ve had enough and, if there’s food leftover, leave it in their bowl. (They might come back to it later, they might not.) As is usually the case with puppies, it depends on the individual puppy, their breed, age, and several other factors. 

Now that you know the answer to the question “will puppies overeat,” I’m betting you have more. Is it bad to overfeed your puppy, for example, and what symptoms will they present if they’re overeating all the time? For those answers and some real-world advice, read on.

Is it Bad to Overfeed Your Puppy? 

There are many reasons why overfeeding your puppy is a bad idea. The first is that it’s horrible for their health in several different ways. Actually, that’s the only reason why it’s bad to overfeed your puppy because it’s very, very bad for their health and welfare.

Any other reasons why it’s bad to overfeed your puppy link directly to the first reason. Obesity is one of the most significant, as it puts extra stress on their organs, limbs, joints, and so forth. Speaking of joints, overfeeding your puppy can interfere with the normal formation and growth of their bones, causing skeletal and joint problems later in life. 

So, yes, it’s not good to overfeed your puppy for any reason. Letting puppies eat whenever and whatever they want often leads to a wide variety of health problems that, although you might not see them right away, will haunt your poor puppy down the road.

Symptoms your Puppy is Overeating

There are many signs and symptoms that your puppy is overeating. Most of them are apparent, but there are a few that take a keen eye to notice, including;

  • Surprising weight gain. Yes, puppies will gain weight. If they suddenly get tremendous, though, that’s a bad sign.
  • Low motivation from treats when training. (I’ve had many puppy parents who were perplexed by this issue and couldn’t understand why their puppy didn’t respond to treats.) (Hint: they were already full.)
  • Lethargy. If your once energetic puppy suddenly wants to lie around and do nothing all day, too much food in their belly is likely the cause.
  • Increased fussiness when it comes to what your puppy will and won’t eat.
  • You frequently find food in their bowl after feeding time.
  • They vomit a lot, usually in the afternoon after gorging themselves all morning.
  • Soft, mushy stools. A puppy’s stool is usually firm and dry-ish. If they’re constantly pooping mushy stools, overeating is a probable cause.

How do You Know if you are Overfeeding Your Puppy? 

The thing about puppies is that, in most cases, they should have a discernible waist or what they call in the fashion industry an ‘hourglass figure.’ You should be able to see some of their ribs, for example, and their bellies should be soft but not sloppy.

If that’s not what you see when you look at your precious upper, that’s a good sign you’re overfeeding them. Below are a few other signs that you should look out for and prevent your puppy from eating themselves sick, including:

  • Flatulence. Yes, some puppies fart more than others, depending on their particular breed. However, if your pup wasn’t gassy before but is tooting like Steamboat Willy, overfeeding is likely the culprit.
  • Skin problems. If your pup is constantly suffering from skin problems like rashes, overeating might be the cause. Chewing their feet, obsessive grooming, and skin lesions are also signs that they’re getting too much protein. 
  • Obsessive Scratching. If you’ve protected your pup from fleas and other insects, but they still scratch themselves non-stop, cutting back on their calories might be necessary.
  • A puppy with chronic ear problems might be suffering from overeating or some food allergy.

How to Train your Puppy to Free Feed

Free feeding, or what some refer to as grazing, is when you let your dog eat when they see fit. Of course, free feeding is what dogs did for millions of years in the wild. Indeed, before domestication, grazing was the only way dogs fed, eating when the opportunity arose because, sometimes, the opportunities were few and far between. If you’d like to try free feeding and see if it works for you and your puppy, the following steps will help:

  • Determine if your pup is high or low energy. Low energy puppies do better with free feeding.
  • Fill your puppy’s bowl with kibble.
  • If needed, slow them down initially, so they don’t gobble everything up right away.
  • Call your pup away from their bowl and, when they obey, give them a treat.
  • Sit and play with them for a moment or two.
  • Let your puppy return to their bowl.
  • Repeat the process. You can intersperse these moments with play, walks, going outside, petting, wherever.

If you use the above method, your puppy should eventually realize that, even if they walk away, their food will remain in their bowl for consumption later. It’s a small leap to know they don’t need to chow down every bit immediately but can save it for when they’re hungry again.

Final Thoughts

Will puppies overeat? Yes, indeed, most puppies will overeat if given a chance. Some might adapt to free feeding, but most, particularly energetic puppy breeds, won’t. That’s why it’s up to you as their puppy parent to ensure they can’t overeat and prevent the health problems overeating causes.

Did today’s blog answer your questions about puppies and overeating? I sure hope it did and that you enjoyed it thoroughly. Please see my other blogs if you have more questions about being a puppy parent. They’re filled with real-world tips and advice to help you raise a beautiful, happy and healthy puppy.