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Can Different Diets Affect A Dog's Behaviour?

 by jaime on 29 Aug 2014 |
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There a lot of other factors that affect a dog's behaviour, but many people also believe that diet can also be influential.

For dog lovers, what you feed your dog is a polarising topic, and many pet owners get very passionate about it, and while there's no real right or wrong answer, all owners should strive to find the best diet for their dog. All dogs are individuals and will react differently to different foods, much in the same way we do - so it seems quite likely that diet can contribute to behaviour.

We are generally very conscious about what we feed ourselves and our family - for example you wouldn't feed your child a breakfast full of sugar and lots of preservatives, just before they go to school? So shouldn't the same logic be applied to our much loved pets?

There are various schools of thought about what diet is best for an energetic and obedient dog but again, we can't stress enough that there isn't one answer and it will come down to trial and error and observing how your dog behaves when eating certain diets. Lifestyle, finances and preferences will also play a role in what diet you'd like to feed your dog, much in the same way it affects our own meal time.

Different diets, different results
Let's take a look at how some of the most popular diets can potentially affect your dog's behaviour…

Commercial dog food
This is a popular option for doggy parents the world over and in general the high quality options do provide your dog with a well rounded and balanced meal, with key nutrients for a happy and healthy dog. However, the cheaper the variety, the more likely fillers in the form of grains and cereal will be present and it's said that a high intake of carbohydrates can affect blood serum levels which is thought to cause aggressive tendencies, mood swings and hyperactivity. However, by avoiding the cheapest food available, you should be completely fine to feed your dog commercial dog food.

Raw feeding
A lot of people like feeding their dogs a raw diet. Dogs seem to enjoy it because they get to enjoy plenty of raw meat and bones, but one of the setbacks from this diet is a lack of calcium which can lead to health issues such a dental problems. Dental issues can also lead to behavioural problems - including aggression and lethargy.

Organic
Lots of people enjoy eating a diet full of organic ingredients, and you can't deny the benefits. So it's no surprise that many dog owners also like feeding their dogs organic food. Organic dog food can be bought from many online sellers or pet stores (or you can make it yourself), and its major pro is that it doesn't contain any chemical additives, but includes all the nutritional benefits you get from other commercial dog food varieties. Generally, feeding your dog organic should eliminate and curve any behavioural issues and if after a few months, no changes have been cited, then a consultation with your vet should be on the cards.

Natural
A dog's diet that is all natural is similar to the recently popular "Paleo" diet, where you feast on what your ancient ancestors ate. People who feed their dog this sort of diet, generally give their dog animal carcasses, meaty bones and scraps from the butcher. While it resembles nothing of what most people feed their dogs these days, it's said that this type of diet is kinder to the digestive system and reduces unpredictable mood swings.

Variety is the spice of life
Some dog trainers and behaviourists believe that some poor behaviour from dogs can stem not just from what's in the food, but the repetitive nature of it, calling it the "monotony effect." It's said the monotony effect can cause begging and boredom, so even if your dog is hungry, they may refuse to eat it because they are tired of the same thing! If this is something you are experiencing, consult your vet. If you plan to change up your dog's diet, remember to introduce the new food gradually so not to upset their stomach.

Don't get tripped up on treats
Everyone loves a treat, including your pal and usually these treats can be incredibly high in sugar, potentially causing hyperactivity. If you think your dog is hyperactive, then a good way to help is to eliminate what dog treats you are giving them. Remember to always read the label and choose one that is of a high quality.

So in many ways it seems that the old saying 'you are what you eat' can really apply to our dogs too.

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