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My boy currently eats Taste of the Wild, and takes paroxetine and clonidine for anxiety.

I've been considering a raw diet for a while now, and there will still be more research to do (he lives with my parents now and won't live with me until this summer, so I've got some time). But today I jumped down the rabbit hole after seeing a post about reactivity and diet on Reddit.

Basically, the following is what I've gathered today:
- Reactive dogs do better with less protein (less than 25%) as too much protein can decrease the ability for them to receive tryptophan from food.

- But some say that lower protein just means higher carbs, which just makes the dogs less active and therefore less reactive. (clearly there is mixed info here!).

- A raw diet is probably best either way, but certain foods like duck, rabbit, beef, goose, or pork are more ideal as they are considered to be "cool".

- A diet with a significant amount of fish has been very beneficial for some people.


I'm pretty sure that my dog will be on some sort of anxiety medication for life, but I'd like to eliminate the clonidine if I can - I don't see too much improvement from it and it just makes him really tired. It seems like there is a very real connection between diet and anxiety, but I'm not quite sure what to do to improve his diet in a real way.

My goal, I think, is to switch him over to raw but try to keep the protein percentages on the lower end. Is that even possible? I don't want to make any drastic changes, but his current food is 25% protein and I really don't want to go above that if possible - I just don't think he needs it.

Anyone with reactive/anxious dogs have experience or suggestions in this area?

I'd like to get him started and find a groove, then eventually switch over my non-reactive dog as well as my cat. But we'll see.
 

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Lower protein and low carbs just means a high fat diet. If his pancreas is compromised then that won't work! It is extremely easy to feed loads of fat. Fat is cheap.

I'd go by grams of protein fed rather than percentage of protein fed. 100 grams of kibble is equal to about 50 grams of raw because of the water weight for one thing. Max would have been fed about 150 grams of an old kibble I have saved on ND as a custom food. It is 32% protein so he would have received about 48 grams of protein a day. My random raw recipe conveniently is 100 grams dry weight for about the same calories with 58 grams of protein. Sounds like I'd be feeding him a lot more protein with the raw but it isn't so much higher than the kibble after all. That raw recipe was designed to be lower fat as well.

Consider offering huge meaty bones once his gut is established on the new diet. Bucky the brat was so relaxed after an epic 3 hour chew I thought he was sick. It is extremely easy to overdo exercise with him as he can get really wound up but chews really chill him down nicely.
 

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I haven't fed specifically for anxiety before, but I'd personally start on a very basic prey-model raw diet - or a high quality premade - and add proteins slowly so you can judge if any have a significant impact on his behavior, since it's such an individual thing. A raw diet is actually often relatively low in protein compare to kibble due to not being as concentrated. For example, the premade we feed is mostly tripe and various meats (we rotate flavors) and a vitamin mix - it ranges between 14-16% protein depending on the meat source. Most meats as-is are at the 25% protein threshold or under. I admit I'm not someone who kept a super close eye on the nutrient profiles when I was feeding PMR, so I can't tell you what I averaged then, but I think what you want to do is totally possible.

I also do find that having a good, long-lasting meaty bone once or twice a week is a very relaxing, calming experience for my boy. I haven't noticed it making a huge impact on his reactivity, but his is excitement/frustration based so it's a little different. It definitely makes a difference in how generally satisfied and content he is outside of triggering situations, though.

If you haven't come across it already, the Cog-Dog Radio podcast talks some about diet and behavior, with her being a big raw proponent. The episodes on Kevin, specifically, might be of interest to you.
 
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