Does an Increase in Food Make a Dog More Hyper?

by Adrienne Farricelli Google
    Your dog's diet may be switching Rover into "hyper-mode."

    Your dog's diet may be switching Rover into "hyper-mode."

    Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    When your four-legged companion starts bouncing off the walls, you may wonder if boredom, anxiety or a lack of exercise and mental stimulation are to blame. At times, though, the main culprit for Rover's hyper behavior may be right under his nose. Feeding him too much food, or food of the wrong type, may lead to a buildup of excess energy that will need to be somehow siphoned off.

    True Hyperactivity

    As you watch Rover acting nuts, you may feel compelled to label him as having the the canine version of ADHD. It's easy to label any high-energy dog as hyperactive, but in reality, true clinical hyperactivity -- in the real sense of the word -- is rare and involves the display of highly impulsive behavior, attention deficits and overactivity. It turns out that, more likely than not, "hyper" dogs are just normal, high-energy dogs who may benefit from more structure, exercise and training.

    Energetic Fuel

    While taking a hyper dog to obedience classes may seem like a good solution, consider that just as in people, dogs are what they eat. If you saw a recent spike in Rover's activity levels right after increasing his food allowance, chances are those extra calories need to be burnt in some way. Consult with a pet nutrition expert if you are not sure how much to feed your dog. The amount of food to give your dog varies depending on life stages and activity levels.

    Sugar Rush

    If Rover acts as if he has a sugar high, consider that those extra carbohydrates in his diet may be part of the problem. You can't blame him, though; in fact, when many processed carbs are ingested, they're transformed into simple sugars that may spike your dog’s energy levels. This may not only lead to behavioral changes such as hyperactivity, loss of self control and irritability, but also serious medical problems such as diabetes. Check your dogs' food label; nowadays, many commercial dog foods contain great amounts of carbs.

    Sneaky Additives

    Excessive carbohydrates though aren't the only problematic ingredients. Many dog foods contain more food additives than imagined. An increase in feeding dosages may therefore translate in an increased absorption of harmful products. Chemicals linked to causing easily distracting behavior, difficulty settling down and irritability in dogs include artificial food colorings, artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin, and traces of toxins such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Many of these toxins are also cancer-causing agents.

    Better Diet

    If your dog's behavior has changed after a recent diet change, it's not a bad idea to consult with your veterinarian. He may suggest a more appropriate diet. Many dog owners have noticed dramatic changes in behavior after switching to a high-protein, low-carbohydrate menu. A good diet can really help promote good behavior. This is also a good time to discuss if there are chances your dog's "hyper" behaviors may be caused by food allergies or other underlying medical conditions.

    Photo Credits

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    About the Author

    Adrienne Farricelli has been a writer since 2005, serving as an editor, steward and writer for several online publications. She brings expertise in canine topics, previously working with the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification as a dog trainer from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Farricelli offers reward-based training and behavior consults at Rover's Ranch Home Boarding and Training.

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