Are you currently experiencing behaviour problems with your dog? Has anyone mentioned to you that it could be your dog food causing these problems?
It is common these days for many people to suffer allergies or reactions from eating certain types of food and drinks. Modern medicine has developed significantly to realise that the chemicals used to produce many processed foods and the ingredients used to preserve them, can have considerable unpleasant effects on the human body, mind and behaviour. This is also true for dogs and is an important aspect to consider when dealing with behaviour problems.
It has been found by veterinary surgeons and leading behaviourists that diet-related allergies definitely have an affect on dog behaviour, these consequences are very individual to each dog but there has not been enough significant research carried out to suggest that any specific ingredients are the culprits.
The influence of diet on behaviour can be specific or in addition to another underlying cause. In some cases where the diet is particularly poor or inappropriately balanced, problem behaviours can disappear simply through altering the nutritional balance of the diet. That being said, in most cases an adjustment to your dog’s food can be very effective when used in conjunction with behaviour modification techniques and training.
One of the most important points to consider when buying food for you dog are his daily energy needs, it can be an easy mistake to provide a high energy diet, believing it to be a good quality diet, to a pet that only gets a small amount of exercise each day. It’s a little like feeding a bucket of oats (a high energy releasing food) to a horse, and then expecting it to stand calmly in a stable for the next 24 hours.
Points that you must consider when calculating feeding levels and types of food to choose, are things such as the size of the dog, whether it is a puppy, average age or elderly dog, the general health and current weight and the level of exercise the dog receives. This will make sure your dog receives an adequately balanced and appropriate level of feeding.
Some indicators of possible diet related behaviour may be
- Lack of concentration when training
- Excessive drinking
- Restlessness, difficulty settling down and relaxing
- Excessive itching and scratching especially at the top of the tail
- Eating grass, fibre based destructive tendencies such as toilet rolls and tissues
- Coprophagia (eating faeces)
- Digestive problems (constipation or diarrhoea)
- Allergic reactions on the skin
- Excessive flatulence
- Inconsistent motions and increased or decreased activity levels.
These behaviours individually are not necessarily indicative of a diet problem and can be present for many other reasons, however the more of these behaviours present, the more likely a diet deficiency should be considered.
There are now a vast number of manufactured dog foods available to pet owners and many of these are produced with sales in mind as opposed to canine health and nutrition. They are manufactured to appeal to the owners by looking appetising and colourful in order to increase sales. Unless pet owners are knowledgeable in correctly analysing the content of the food, it is unlikely they will know whether it contains a good balance for the needs of their dog and his lifestyle or any unnecessary additives and chemicals.
There is much controversy surrounding the subject of manufactured dog foods, and whether they are actually healthy for our dogs, or whether in fact they contain a lot of unhealthy, unnatural ingredients. It seems to have become increasingly common over recent years for food to be having more and more effect on the behaviour of so called ‘problem dogs’.
If you are having problems with your dog I would definitely recommend looking at the diet he is on and do some research on the ingredients and manufacturing process that produces the dog food you buy. I would go so far as to recommend a change in diet maybe, to see if there are any positive effects on behaviour before paying out lots of money on trainers/behaviourists to come and try and solve the problems you have.
If you want some recommendations on manufactured dog foods, this list would be some that I have successfully used both with my own dogs and clients dogs over the years. (Each name will link to their website)
- Arden Grange
- James Wellbeloved
- Natural Dog Food Company (visit their website they offer free samples)
- Natures Menu
- Gentle Dog Food
- Natural Instinct
The other alternative of course is to feed a raw diet to your dog, personally this is my preferred choice and I always live by the rule ‘the proof is in the pudding’ so don’t be afraid to try things and see what happens. I have to admit, my dogs have all definitely been healthier for it, but I accept it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, if you are interested in finding out more about feeding your dog a raw diet, I have included a few links below for you.
These are some articles you may find interesting, as always there are people for and people against the raw diet option, like I said, I live by the rule ‘try it and see’ but I would advise that you do your research and see how you feel about it.
- WebMd: Raw dog food: Dietary Concerns, Benefits & Risks
- Common Raw Feeding Mistakes that Can Harm Your Pet