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Will a Dog Really Eat Itself to Death If Given Unlimited Food?

Do dogs really not know to stop eating when they’re full?

It’s long been said that dogs, like some humans, don’t know when it’s time to stop eating when they’re full. They’ll continue to eat the food in front of them until it’s gone, be it a cup of food or 20 pounds of kibble. In fact, they just might keep on eating until they drop dead. But is there actually any truth to this?

The short answer? It depends on the dog. Some dogs aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed and will eat until they get sick; there have indeed been reports of dogs getting into a bag of kibble and eating the whole thing. Sometimes it’s caught in time for the dog’s stomach to be pumped; sometimes it’s not. The vast majority of dogs, however, will stop eating once they’ve had enough. They might eat to the point of nausea, or until they throw up, but rarely, if ever, until they die.

Dogs, cats, horses, and goats have all been known to eat themselves to death. But again, this only happens rarely. If you’re a good owner, a good rule to keep in mind is to feed your dog the amount recommended by the vet, twice a day, at set feeding times. Don’t leave a constant supply of food out for the dog, and don’t leave the kibble bag out where it can be found. And if your dog does find his or her way into the kibble bag, don’t worry: It might eat until it gets sick, but it’s not going to eat itself to death.  

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