How Different Diets Affect a Dog's Behaviorby Simon Foden
Age, breed and activity level for the most part determine the right diet for any dog, but you can feed an appropriate diet in many ways. Whatever you feed him, keep in mind that what you feed your dog can directly affect how he behaves.
Cheap Canned Food and Kibble
A high-carb diet, such as those provided by cheap commercial dog food with lots of grain and cereals as filler, can have a negative influence on your dog’s behavior. When a dog has a high intake of carbohydrates, especially in place of proteins, his blood serum levels are never constant. According to the Animal Medical Center of Southern California, varying blood serum levels can cause aggressive behavior and mood swings in your dog. Avoiding the cheapest dog foods on the retail shelves is a worthwhile preventive measure.
The chemicals and additives in low-grade commercial food can cause bad behavior, such as hyperactivity and, in particularly sensitive dogs, allergic reaction. Organic food, which you can buy at the online or at the pet store, contains no chemical additives. You can prepare organic dog food at home on your own, too. If feeding organic food for a couple months doesn't make a difference, talk to your vet again about the behavioral problems.
The personality of the dog has evolved due to domestication, but his nutritional requirements are the same as his ancestors'. Feeding an all-natural diet, typically including butcher scraps, animal carcasses and meaty bones, emulates the way dogs would feed in the wild. This approach, although ostensibly inconvenient for the owner, does have some behavioral influence. Eating the diet that nature intended is less taxing on the digestive system and benefits brain chemistry. This makes your dog easier to train and less prone to unpredictable behavior.
A raw diet is all-natural by default. While this approach allows your dog to gorge on raw meat and bones, there are potential behavioral drawbacks. Lack of calcium, for example, can cause dental problems. With dental problems come behavioral problems, such as reluctance to eat, aggression and lethargy.
Although commercial dog food is convenient and in many cases provides a healthy nutritional balance, it can get boring for a dog to eat the same thing every day. This phenomenon is called the monotony effect. The monotony effect can lead to begging and food boredom; a situation where your dog may be hungry but just doesn’t want to eat what you’ve given him. If he persistently refuses to eat, see the vet. Sometimes changing his food can help, but always introduce a new food gradually to avoid upsetting his stomach. Regarding treats, always read the label. Some commercially available treats contain sugar. Hyperactivity is one of the most common behavioral outcomes of giving sugar to your dog.
- Animal Medical Center: The Influence of Nutrition on Aggression
- VetInfo: Reducing Dog Behavior Problems Through Proper Diet
- The Journal of Nutrition: The Evolutionary Basis for the Feeding Behavior of Domestic Dogs (Canis familiaris) and Cats (Felis catus)
- VetInfo: How Safe Is a Raw Dog Food Diet?
- Discovery: Dogs Dumbed Down by Domestication
- WebMD: Raw Dog Food: Dietary Concerns, Benefits, and Risks
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images