Dogs are not fussy eaters. Nature has programmed them to handle a wide variety of different food types. This means when they can’t find prey, they can scavenge. But in the domestic environment, convenience often takes precedence and we sometimes neglect to approximate the wild diet and don’t provide the balance of nutrients our dogs need. Too much or too little of something in your dog’s food can quite quickly result in a behavioral issue. You can easily identify the effects of your dog’s diet by making simple changes.
Mood Swings and Aggression
If a dog is receiving too many carbohydrates in his food such as cereals and grain, especially at the expense of animal proteins, his energy levels will not remain consistent. He’ll have peaks and dips due to his blood sugar levels going up and down. This in turn can lead to mood swings, as the repeated change in energy levels can become distressing for the dog. A lack of fats in the diet leads to decreased blood serum levels. According to the Animal Medical Center of Southern California, there is an established link between low blood serum and aggressive behavior.
High sugar and high levels of artificial preservatives and chemicals, typically found in cheap commercial dog food, can lead to hyperactivity. The sugar provides a temporary boost in energy, which the dog needs to burn off quickly. Try to phase out cheap commercial food and replace it with natural food, such as butcher scraps, to reduce the level of sugar in your dog’s diet.
A high carb diet can lead to lethargy and sluggishness, especially if the dog is already overweight due to excess carb intake. Dogs are omnivores, meaning they need a balance of meat, vegetation and starch. In the wild, dogs get their vegetation and starch by feeding on the pre-digested food of their prey. Rather than simulating this messy scenario in the house, include cooked brown rice and green, iron rich veg with their meat based food to boost energy levels.
Boredom and Begging
If your dog eats the same thing every day, he may eventually get bored of the smells and taste. This is called the “monotony effect,” a phenomenon that causes dogs to seek out other smells, flavors and textures. If your dog is begging for your food and is not tucking into his own food with the normal gusto, consider mixing up his diet a little.
Dogs that eat only soft, canned food may resort to inappropriate chewing. In the wild, dogs eat the bones of their prey. The friction of the bones against the teeth would clean out food debris and remove plaque. If there is no friction in the food your dog is eating, he is likely to seek out other means of cleaning his teeth.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.