The Importance of Diet in Your Dog’s Behavior
Nearly 30% of pet dogs exhibit signs of anxiety, including excessive barking, trying to escape, excessive energy, destructive behaviors and aggression.
Such behavioral issues are a leading cause of animals being relinquished to shelters, this is unfortunate because often these issues can be easily fixed.
Behavior modification techniques are the foundation of reshaping unwanted behaviors, along with a variety of supportive supplements and even pheromone-releasing collars, which can help reduce stress.
However, many people, including veterinarians, overlook the importance of diet in relieving anxiety in pets.
As noted by Ragen TS McGowan, PhD., of Nestlé Purina Research, at the 2016 Nestlé Purina Companion Animal Nutrition Summit: “Altering diet to manipulate the availability of precursors for the hormones and neurotransmitters that regulate behavior has merit as a means to mitigate many behavioral issues.”
Pet food formulator Steve Brown lectures about the dietary role of important, Key amino acids for healthy cognitive function, including tryptophan, which is oftentimes deficient in poorly designed, meat-based, and high-fat diets.
This has led to the erroneous conclusion that meat-based diets foster aggression, when the real issue at hand is tryptophan deficiency. But there are other nutritional factors besides adequate amino acid consumption that play into a dog’s behavior too.
The experts say if your dog suffers from anxiety, be sure he is consuming a high-quality source of Omega-3 fats. These fats have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties while also modulating neurotransmitters and neuroplasticity in the brain.
When researchers pitted the Omega-3 fat eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) against the antidepressant drug fluoxetine, aka Prozac, EPA was just as effective as the drug in relieving symptoms of depression in humans, and the same may be true in dogs.
Research involving 24 dogs, conducted by Dr. McGowan and colleagues, found increased intake of Omega-3 fats had a calming effect on anxious dogs and led to improvements in behavior.
Clinical studies show that Omega-3s are helpful in treating many disorders in dogs and cats, including heart and kidney disease, inflammatory skin conditions and arthritis, as well as boosting cognitive function.
So, it is a good idea for virtually all pets to eat a diet rich in Omega-3s, so any behavioral improvements are the “lucky extra.”
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively, the same goes for your pets.