Chris Shaughness

author, speaker, animal lover

Nutrition and Wellness,  All Articles

Nutrition and Behavior

The pet food recall was terrible for so many people and their pets. Hopefully, it has brought awareness to what we are feeding our pets. But did you know that the food dogs eat can affect their behavior as well as their health?

Dogs are carnivores – meat eaters – and need protein, but not just any protein. Inexpensive dog foods use low quality protein sources, such as the wheat gluten which caused the food recalls, and discarded animal parts like beaks, claws, and even hair. These ingredients are poor sources of nutrition which can lead to compromised health and lowered immune systems for the dogs. Sick dogs can be more likely to have house training accidents and pain-related incidents of biting. After all, a dog in pain may not be able to tell you he is experiencing pain. His only way of communicating that pain may be to bite.

Dog foods which are high in carbohydrates, especially low-cost cereal grains like corn, corn meal and wheat, are also poor sources of nutrition and can impact dogs’ health and behavior. Carbs are a source of energy, and if that energy does not have the chance to get burned off with activity, the dog may have elevated anxiety levels. Some grocery stores brands of dog food even contain sugar, a poor source of nutrition and also linked to contributing to health and behavior problems in humans. Of course, then, it would have similar affects in pets too.

Nutrition is generally not the biggest contributor to behavior issues with dogs, however, it can be a factor. Many dogs who have aggression issues have underlying anxiety problems. If the dog is eating a food which is high in carbohydrates and even sugar, the dog has more energy to burn. A dog who already has a lot of anxiety and does not need more energy!

Regardless of whether your dog has behavior problems, it is a good idea to be an informed consumer of pet food. Read the label and look at the type of protein. If it says ‘by-products,’ don’t buy it. Protein must always be first on the list of ingredients, too. If not, then the food is high in carbs. And for the types of carbs, look for rice (brown rice is best), oats, barley or quinoa.

It’s true that to get better quality food, you will need to pay more. It’s worth it for a healthier and happier pet.