Does dog food effect behavior?
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Thread: Does dog food effect behavior?

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    Senior Member blackrose's Avatar
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    Does dog food effect behavior?

    I work in a vet's office back in the kennels. Because of this, I get to see a lot of dogs of all different breeds, mixes, ages, and personalities. One thing I have noticed is that a lot (maybe seven or eight out of ten) of dogs eating a certain brand of food(s) (which will remain unnamed) seem to be...kooky. When I mean kooky, I'm talking about hyperactivness, "stupidity", aggression...just an unbalanced dog.

    The brand of food(s) I am referring to is one of the "lower quality" foods that most dog enthusiasts wouldn't reccomend feeding.

    Can diet be the cause of some behavior issues, or does it seem like dogs eating this particular brand of food are "kooky" because most of the people who feed the food aren't educated enough in the world of dogs to raise a dog properly to begin with?

    This was just something I was puzzling over today, as it was scared/nervous/aggressive/bite-your-hand-off/adrenaline pumping dog day in at work.

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    Senior Member rosemaryninja's Avatar
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    Re: Does dog food effect behavior?

    I don't know if diet can have a significant effect on behaviour. Activity levels, yes, but probably not hyperactivity or aggression.
    -Melissa
    Life is never dull with a Beagle

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    Re: Does dog food effect behavior?

    I would put a link between food quality, pride of ownership and better training skills before I said low quality food made dumber dogs. If you care enough to feed your dog high end food then you may care more about having a happy and well behaved dog.. kwim?
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    Super Moderator Curbside Prophet's Avatar
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    Re: Does dog food effect behavior?

    Diet is one consideration when figuring behavior modification, including behavior mod for aggression. Generally the consideration is in inadequacies, however, there is some data suggesting a diet containing reduced dietary protein for managing aggression can be beneficial. I think what we'll see in the future are studies using low protein diets to modify serotonin production and dietary carbohydrates for improving tryptophan transport through the blood-brain barrier. Some of you may have experienced what tryptophan can do to your behavior, especially if you had a lot of turkey on Thanksgiving.

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    Senior Member trumpetjock's Avatar
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    Re: Does dog food effect behavior?

    Quote Originally Posted by Curbside Prophet View Post
    Some of you may have experienced what tryptophan can do to your behavior, especially if you had a lot of turkey on Thanksgiving.
    Not to derail, but the whole turkey tryptophan-l sleepiness thing is a myth. The documented effect of tryptophan-l causing sleepiness only happens when the amino acid is ingested on a completely empty stomach. The amount of protein in the turkey alone prevents this, as well as the fact that you probably eat more total food on thanksgiving than any other day of the year.

    The sleepiness of thanksgiving is actually due to your body diverting large amounts of energy towards digesting the vast quantities of food you ate, regardless of tryptophan content (not to mention if you have any wine with dinner )

    And knowing is half the battle!

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    Senior Member melgrj7's Avatar
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    Re: Does dog food effect behavior?

    When I had my dogs on eukanuba briefly I noticed a behavior change in them compared to the other foods they have been on. It was kind of like a kid on a sugar high and Lloyd seemed more "testy", like more easily aggravated. Allie seemed even more reactive than usual.

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    Senior Member flipgirl's Avatar
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    Re: Does dog food effect behavior?

    Can't say I agree with the tryptophan thing being a myth. My doctor prescribed tryptophan because I was having trouble sleeping.He didn't say to take them on anempty stomach or anything. And the effect didn't change whether I had a full tummy or not. But that could be an individual thing too.

    When I fed my dog Merrick,she was hyperactive. She does the blitz after she has a bath but on Merrick, she was blitzing all day and barking at everything and everyone. When I changed her to Innova, this decreased immensely. I'm not suggesting Merrick is a bad food; just saying that food can contribute to behavioural differences. My dog may have had an allergy tosomething in Merrick.
    In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog. ~Edward Hoagland

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    Re: Does dog food effect behavior?

    Regarding the tryptophan, I have used herbal stress meds with tryptophan in them, had the dog out like a light within 30 min. Mind you, this is a very moody, HYPER HYPER HYPER, high strung, tempermental epileptic Beagle. He has the energy of a dog half his age most of the time - he is either half comatose or off the walls!

    On that note, I have noted some feeds will affect behavior. The afformentioned dog is now on a home cooked, low meat diet because it was the only thing that calmed him down some. Other than that, a few years ago I co owned a little bluetick bitch with another breeder who was strictly a rabbit hunter, wasn't big on socializing the dogs. So she was like a fish out of water here. For the life of me, I can't remember what food I switched them to that made a night & day difference in her personality - I think it was Evolve but not entirely sure. I haven't noticed the other dogs beside the epileptic getting hig strung or jittery on a feed, but they do keep pretty active. Exercise level may have something to do with it?

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    Senior Member HersheyPup's Avatar
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    Re: Does dog food effect behavior?

    You know...I WISH I could determine which type of food caused hyperactivity in my dog...but I can't! She seems to get a "rush" after every good meal!

    Honestly, whether it's a bowl of cooked rice and raw hamburger or a big can of good quality dog food or a bowl of kibble she goes beserk for a little while! If the meal is a good sized one...she has an energy rush. She settles down relatively quickly, thankfully.

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    Re: Does dog food effect behavior?

    When Shug lived with her former owner, she ate Ol' Roy Kibbles 'n' Chunks. Which is basically candy with meat flavoring (5th ingredient is high-fructose corn syrup!!!) . After she came to live with my parents, she was immediately switched to....um....I think Solid Gold or TOTW (whatever Willow was eating at the time). Now she's on Chicken Soup. Whenever her former owner comes to visit, she comments on how much less hyper and crazy Shug is, but that could also be just from living with my parents, who are admittedly boring, whereas her former owner is rather......unstructured.

    So I can't say for sure whether diet plays a big role in behavior, but it makes sense that a sugar-filled food would do something nasty to their brain waves. I know horse owners swear that some feeds make their horses "hot". So there is some support for the idea.

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    Senior Member blackrose's Avatar
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    Re: Does dog food effect behavior?

    Lots of interesting ideas! I should start taking notes about what dogs in at work eat what food and see if there is any relation to how they behave. Even if it is "a link between food quality, pride of ownership and better training skills", I still think it would be interesting to find out.

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    Re: Does dog food effect behavior?

    That is a great idea! Keep us posted.

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    Senior Member ioreks_mom's Avatar
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    Re: Does dog food effect behavior?

    Quote Originally Posted by blackrose View Post
    Lots of interesting ideas! I should start taking notes about what dogs in at work eat what food and see if there is any relation to how they behave. Even if it is "a link between food quality, pride of ownership and better training skills", I still think it would be interesting to find out.
    that would definitely be an interesting study! i would love to read your results.
    mindy and the fuzzbutts!

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    Senior Member blackrose's Avatar
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    Re: Does dog food effect behavior?

    After things become less crazy in at work (spring break right now and we are SWAMPED) I am going to try to keep tabs on brands of food and dogs. Here are the things I'm going to look at: age, sex (including if altered), breed, brand of food, physical condition (weight, coat health, etc.), and behavior.

    We have a very wide varity of foods, so should I group them by a generic brand, or do an individual brand? In otherwords, should all foods by Eukanuba be labeled "Eukanuba", or should I get specific such as, "Eukanuba Lamb and Rice" and "Eukanuba Salmon and Rice"?

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    Senior Member Love's_Sophie's Avatar
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    Re: Does dog food effect behavior?

    Quote Originally Posted by blackrose View Post
    After things become less crazy in at work (spring break right now and we are SWAMPED) I am going to try to keep tabs on brands of food and dogs. Here are the things I'm going to look at: age, sex (including if altered), breed, brand of food, physical condition (weight, coat health, etc.), and behavior.

    We have a very wide varity of foods, so should I group them by a generic brand, or do an individual brand? In otherwords, should all foods by Eukanuba be labeled "Eukanuba", or should I get specific such as, "Eukanuba Lamb and Rice" and "Eukanuba Salmon and Rice"?

    It all depends on how specific you want to get; perhaps check the ingredient lists, and go from there, that way you can narrow things down further, and determine whether you need to be more specific or not, per brand.

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    Senior Member blackrose's Avatar
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    Re: Does dog food effect behavior?

    Quote Originally Posted by Love's_Sophie View Post
    It all depends on how specific you want to get; perhaps check the ingredient lists, and go from there, that way you can narrow things down further, and determine whether you need to be more specific or not, per brand.
    Ah, that would work. I totally didn't even think about comparing ingredients. *face palm*

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    Member aphioni's Avatar
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    Re: Does dog food effect behavior?

    i believe food can effect their behavior to a degree- i'd imagine foods with corn syrup could make a dog hyper and then crash, which could make them cranky- just like people. protein makes them full and their energy level stable- just like people.

    it's just one component, but i think it's an important one. when people comment on how NOT hyper, calm, alert and well trained my PRT is, i know part of it is the training we do, but the other part is a steady, protein rich diet with no corn syrup or "junk food". i wish my son got that many good comments on his behavior... lol
    My goal is to actually be as wonderful as my dog thinks I am!

    Ciao,

    Aphioni
    ~Beemer's Mom, Parsons Russell Terrier~

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    Re: Does dog food effect behavior?

    I would like to help you out with a link where i found some information regarding dog food and its behaviour. Here is the link http://www.dogbasics.co.uk/articles/aboutpuppies.html

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