This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Prolonged increased food intake is called polyphagia and there are numerous possible causes.

Polyphagia is a prolonged excessive appetite resulting in excessive food intake.


Usually endocrine (hormonal) disorders:

  • Diabetes mellitus 
  • Hyperthyroidism 
  • Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushings Disease) 

Also, gastrointestinal diseases :

And, behavioural causes

In both cats and dogs excessive appetite due to unknown causes has been reported. In some breeds (such as the Labrador Retriever) it has been suggested by some authors that there may be a genetic predisposition to eat excessively and therefore to develop obesity.

And bad feeding practices

The control of food intake is extremely complex. (see satiety) but it is well documented that bad feeding practices can induce polyphagia. Animals fed ad libitum - that is with continuous access to unlimited amounts of food - are likely to overeat, and so are predisposed to develop obesity. Also, owners feeding frequent tit-bits and treats can induce overnutrition as can feeding very palatable  foods.

Consequences of polyphagia

Obesity  - except in the case of gastrointestinal disease or diabetes mellitus when weight loss is likely to be seen.


Avoid bad feeding practices. If there is an underlying disease process treat it appropriately. Modify undesirable behaviour. Prevent access to excessive amounts of food.


Last updated : October 2013