Did you know that what you feed your pet could directly impact their behavior and mood? Studies have long associated food quality and ingredients with issues like aggression and hyperactivity. The better quality of food your pet eats, the better their physical and mental health will be. Let’s take a look at some of the pet issues associated with nutrition. Please note: Information in this blog is general in nature. Please see a pet nutritionist to diagnose and properly use nutrition when treating your individual pet.
Whether the aggression is fear aggression or dominance aggression, both are linked to the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid necessary for serotonin production, which stabilizes mood. Dogs with aggression issues can do well on low protein foods, but the quality of protein matters, along with tryptophan supplementation. Too much protein in the food crowds out tryptophan from connecting to a proper amount of amino acid receptors.
Old Age Issues
Like people, older pets can begin to experience age-related issues such as cognitive decline, arthritis and less mental acuity. Also like people, pets can benefit from an antioxidant-enhanced diet. Dogs and cats fed a diet rich in key antioxidants were found to suffer less cognitive decline, have improved agility/mobility and were better able to learn complex tasks in a short amount of time. And it makes sense as dogs and cats need a balance of more than 50 key nutrients for optimum health.
Hyperactivity is linked to foods with a high amount of cereal grains such as corn, cornmeal and wheat in proportion to protein. First, the carbohydrates increase the pet’s blood sugar levels. Second, a pet food that contains more than 35% carbohydrates will interfere with their body’s use of amino acids from protein and inhibit brain function, triggering hyperactivity. If your dog or cat behaves like a child who has had way too much sugar and is bouncing off the walls, this could be a sign that the quantity and quality of the carbohydrates in their food is not right for them.
Mental Acuity in Kittens and Puppies
There is a reason kitten and puppy formulas exist in pet food. Most have higher amounts of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that is a primary structural component of the brain, cerebral cortex, skin and eyes. Puppies and kittens fed a diet high in DHA show significant increases in their mental acuity and ability to learn. This makes them more receptive to learning training commands and learning about the world around them.
It’s been proven in studies that food can impact your pet’s mood and behavior. While it’s important to know what nutritional issues a behavior might be linked to, there are a few “problem ingredients” that are important to avoid in general in any food you choose for your dog or cat. These are soy, artificial preservatives and food coloring. If you think nutrition could be a factor in your pet’s mood or behavior, see a pet nutritionist for more specific advice and diagnosis.