By Nancy Cope
Recent studies, and common sense, suggest that nutrition does have an important effect on a dog’s behavior.
Many dog food companies are adding more micronutrients, anti-oxidants, and vitamins and minerals to foods today in the belief that behavior can be affected.
But not every dog has a good diet. It has even been suggested that many dogs have bad behavior due to bad diets, which leads their owners to turning them in to animal shelters.
Improving a dog’s diet could be a way to improve his overall behavior.
Dogs who eat a healthy diet are able to grow and learn under optimal conditions. They have enough calories in their diet for healthy bones, skin and coat, and for their brains to develop. Dogs who are fed a quality diet typically have fewer problems with stress and anxiety which means they have better coping skills. They may also seem more intelligent and easier to train. They are less likely to exhibit behavior problems in the home.
Dogs who do not get enough good nutrition, or who are fed a poor quality food, can show physical signs such as an oily, dull, or patchy coat. They may seem lethargic or sluggish and lack energy. They may seem to lack focus or concentration and it is harder for them to learn. They can become unhappy or aggressive. They can even become hyperactive and act out, showing behavior problems at home.
Choosing foods with good nutrition
You can choose a dog food that contains good nutrition for your dog by looking for several qualities in the food. Choose a dog food that has good quality protein, preferably one that has two or three meat proteins in the first five ingredients. Meat protein is easier for dogs to digest and has more bioavailability than other kinds of protein. Avoid foods that contain too much cereal or grain content. Cereals and grains are often harder for dogs to digest, although they do contain protein. Avoid foods with artificial preservatives such as ethoxyquin, BHA, and BHT. Avoid foods with sugar, artificial sweeteners and artificial coloring. And look for foods that have taurine added for healthy heart function.
There are other things you can look for in quality dog foods but if you follow these basics, you should be able to select a good food that provide good nutrition. Some people like to buy organic, human grade, or free range food for their dogs, but these food options are very expensive and not everyone can afford them. They may provide some slight additional nutritional value but if you follow the suggestions above, your dog should be eating a healthy diet.
Some people like to add additional supplements to their dog’s diet such as fish oil. If you are feeding your dog a good quality diet, there is probably no need to add supplements. However, adding a small amount of additional supplementation will not hurt your dog if it makes you feel better, as long as you don’t add so many supplements that it alters the nutritional balance of the food.
Nancy Cope is the owner of four rescue dogs and Pampered Dog Gifts.