You already know how good nutrition can affect the health of your dog, but have you also considered how it can affect his behavior as well?
A study on the impact of nutrition on canine behavior shows that nutrient availability and diet composition affect precursors in the brain which influence behavior. As nutrition influences the building blocks for every metabolic process and cell in the body, the brain and nervous system can’t function well without the right nourishment.
A dog’s behavior is a direct manifestation of activity in the central nervous system. It’s no wonder your beloved pooch is inactive when he isn’t eating healthy. Here’s how the food you give and the frequency by which you feed your dog shape his mood and behavior:
1. Unbalanced diet
Many health issues stem from feeding your pup a poorly-balanced diet. This can also lead to other behavioral issues you usually wouldn’t encounter. For instance, a dog suffering from a urinary tract disorder because of his diet may become unusually stressed and irritable due to the pain and discomfort.
The body is a complex place where many biochemical reactions are happening. Make sure your pup only eats well-balanced high-quality dog food to achieve and maintain good health.
2. Inadequate amount of food
If your dog isn’t receiving enough food and becomes hungry, he may engage in disruptive behaviors such as scavenging and eating feces. Canines who are not satisfied with their diet because it lacks certain nutrients may also result in a condition known as “pica”. This refers to a dog’s avid desire to eat non-food items such as soil and plants.
No to free feeding
Free feeding which refers to the practice of feeding a pet once a day or leaving food out all day isn’t recommended unless advised by the vet. Imagine how your dog would feel if he’s only able to eat once a day and keep nibbling on the same high-calorie food all day. The standard feeding schedule for dogs is 2 to 3 times per day depending on his breed.
Ask your veterinarian to determine how regularly you should feed your pooch. Often, feeding routine adjustments paired with good exercise like playing inside a pet playpen can improve the overall behavior of a canine.
3. Pet food ingredients
The ingredients of the food you give your dog may also affect his behavior in many ways. For instance, the fatty acid DHA can increase mental alertness in puppies. In fact, according to research studies, there are antioxidants which are great brain food especially for senior dogs.
Older dogs who received antioxidant-enriched diet were able to learn complicated tasks compared to those who didn’t. It’s also revealed that older dogs on a healthy diet were less likely to undergo age-related behavioral changes associated with cognitive decline.
The Benefits of Good Nutrition in Dogs
Feeding your dog a diet with a careful balance of nutrients is the best choice for canines with behavioral problems. By doing so, you’re promoting stable blood sugar levels rather than glucose troughs and peaks, thereby minimizing energy surges. This has a positive effect on a dog’s serotonin (the “happy hormone”)level which helps improve training response and concentration.
Besides stimulating good mood and positive behavior, good nutrition keeps your dog’s metabolism and immune system functioning normally. The vitamins and minerals absorbed by a dog’s body from a healthy diet work to promote the cellular normal function to maintain good health.
Talk to your veterinarian
If your dog is manifesting behavioral problems, seek advice from a veterinarian first before changing his diet. Nutrition does have an effect on dog behavior but it’s important to consider that behavioral problems also arise from other contributing factors. Never assume a change of diet as a quick fix, and seek professional advice.
Now that you know how extensive the impact of nutrition is on your dog, make sure to provide him a well-balanced diet. Keep your furry friend both happy and healthy of mind and body by feeding him good food.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.