Will a dog that has unlimited access to food continue to eat?
The vast majority of dogs will stop eating once they have had enough. However, there are generally two types of dogs when it comes to eating.
Firstly, those that eat to live. They will generally graze and eat only what they need. Many of the Toy breeds fit into this category.
Secondly, those that live to eat. An example of this is many Labradors. These dogs will eat and eat to the point of nausea or vomiting. It is rare if ever, they eat until they die.
I had a dog called Zack who very much lived to eat. He was a Belgian Shepherd and Labrador cross. I guess he got his appetite from the Labrador part of him.
On one occasion he got into a large bag of dog biscuits. He kept eating until most of the bag was gone. He probably would have eaten the whole bag if I had not caught him. This didn’t make him sick at all.
On another occasion, a neighbor had thrown a half-eaten Christmas Ham over the fence. Again he keeps eating until I caught him. This time he was sick and threw most of it back up again. Ham is not good for dogs.
Of course, with a dog that is a “eat to live” type, you must be careful to prevent them from becoming obese. This can in the long term actually kill them.
These types of dogs are also likely to et everything extremely fast and hoover down their meals. The risk of them choking on something is something to be aware of.
To slow a fast eater down you can try a couple of things.
- Put a tennis ball in their food bowl to slow them
- Feed them out of a puzzle toy or Kong for dogs. This has the added bonus of providing mental enrichment also.
If your dog does find their way into a bag of kibble or gets access to a volume of food don’t worry. It is extremely unlikely that they will eat themselves to death.