Does diet affect my dog’s behaviour?

Model: Kaos. Photo: Shelby Grace Photography

Think about it this way…

Have you ever seen a kid chow down on some party food and then watched them morph into an unrecognisable gremlin? Or perhaps you yourself have gorged on a Magnum Ego and found yourself snarling and crashing an hour later when you’re coming down from your sugar high. This kind of reaction to food can happen to our dogs too; their diet can contribute to their behaviour, for example, a processed diet can contain sugars and starches, chemicals, artificial colours and additives, all of which may contribute to a variety of health issues. There’s still a lot more research to be done on the details of canine nutrition that what we do know is that good, healthy food makes for the building blocks of good healthy boys and girls, and that nutrition certainly plays a part in behaviour to some extent.

You get out what you put in

Food is fuel and what goes in must come out – this fuel will be used as energy and the quality of fuel you provide for your pet will have an impact on their energy levels and behaviour. Feeding a natural diet will reduce the likelihood of them feeling sluggish and irritable, as high quality animal protein is easier for them to digest, rather than putting a strain on their system - you are feeding them to thrive.  Another incentive for us humans, is that their stools may be much more pleasant on a raw diet, with many pet parents that feed their dogs Big Dog Pet Foods reporting less volume and smell.

Consider what it must be like for a dog if they’re eating something that disagrees with them, this may make them uncomfortable and put them in a heckin’ mood, or perhaps they’re distracted by the discomfort they may be feeling. Think about how gross and grumpy you feel when you’re bloated. A dog can only eat what they are fed by their parent, so it’s our responsibility to choose the right food.

Supportive food for a positive mood

A complete and balanced species appropriate diet will provide your dog with all their nutritional needs and fuel their body. A BARF model diet is a raw, high protein diet based on their biological needs; made up of muscle meat, offal, bones and, fruit and vegetables. A high quality animal protein diet is easier for dog’s to digest than animal by-products and plant sources of protein like soy or maize. High quality meat protein is not only highly absorbable but less allergenic than a lot of plant-based alternatives.

There’s still a lot of research to be done but there have been some encouraging studies on diets high in tryptophan reducing aggression in dogs, which is a very strong support that diet influences behaviour.

We also know that including high quality fish in their diet, for naturally occurring omega 3 essential fatty acids (EFAs), will help support cognitive function; particularly Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  

Switching from a processed diet to a natural diet will have many positive effects on a dog. A healthy diet rich in naturally occurring vitamins and minerals can may support their immune and digestive systems, skin and coat, as well as their overall health and wellbeing.  You can read further about the benefits of raw feeding here.

Unleash “The Happy Chemical”

We know that dogs need exercise to physical exercise elevates serotonin (“the happy chemical”) levels in our body, which balances stress hormones (eg. cortisol). Dogs need plenty of exercise for physical and mental health – use that fuel they’re putting in their body.

Exercise is beneficial for:

·   Maintain healthy weight

·  Mental stimulation

·  Regulating digestion

·  Bonding with your dog – walks are great bonding for these little pack animals

Model: Kaos. Photo: Shelby Grace Photography

Here we are now, enter-TRAIN us

All dogs will require some training, all puppies should start with puppy-preschool for basic training and socialising, before moving on to obedience training. Training is mentally stimulating for your dog and great bonding time for you both. There will be some dogs that require more care with specialised training. It’s important to address any issues that you see as soon as possible. We recommend engaging with a qualified dog trainer for professional care and advice.  

Check with your Vet

Always keep your vet in the loop on your pet’s mood and behaviour. Some things that may seem small to us can provide your vet with valuable insight into your pet’s health and may indicate an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

We all love a good news story!

Read Thea’s story here about the positive influence a healthy diet had on her behaviour:
We thought we were giving our puppy a premium diet on “high quality” kibble but after a month she became aggressive and we didn’t know why. We were recommended to your range of food and switched Thea over with very little expectations but after 4 weeks, our pup was a different dog. She now has a great temperament and actually wants cuddles and kisses where before she would bite you if you wanted to pat her tummy. It turns out that the kibble upset her stomach and she was in quite a lot of pain which we didn’t pick up on at the time. She now loves attention and affection and we’re so thankful for that.  

To see more of Kaos head to @absolute_kaos1. Photos courtesy of @_shelbygrace_photography.


References

https://www.petfoodindustry.com/articles/4534-nutrition-and-canine-behavior
https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/01/12/ways-to-treat-canine-behaviors.aspx
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19079869
https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2016/07/18/pet-food-protein.aspx

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