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Nutrition has a big impact on the physical and mental health of your dog. Let us look at a few ways in which diet can impact the behavior of your pet.
- Feeding time – Not long ago, feeding pets once a day or leaving food out all day (known as free feeding) was considered to be standard regimen. However, it is unwise to do so unless recommended by the vet for a specific medical reason. Just imagine how you would feel if you were able to eat only once every day, or kept munching on a high calorie diet all day. Ask your vet whether feeding your dog 2-3 times a day would be better suited for him. Sometimes, feeding adjustments and exercise are all it takes to improve your dog’s overall demeanor.
- Ingredients in pet food – The ingredients in your pet’s food can also affect his behavior in a number of ways. Consider docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is added to kitten and puppy food quite often. DHA is known to increase mental acuity in kittens and puppies. As a matter of fact, some studies have demonstrated that puppies that eat dog food containing DHA are more trainable. Antioxidants are also considered great brain food for cats and dogs. A number of studies have shown that senior dogs that were on an antioxidant rich diet had greater success learning complex tasks than the ones that were on a control diet. This is consistent with the finding that links oxidative damage to an aging brain. Another study found that an antioxidant rich diet protects dogs from age related changes in behavior like excessive licking, cognitive decline and patterned pacing. Dogs on an antioxidant rich diet were also able to recognize their family members, other animals much more easily than the ones that were on a control diet, apart from displaying greater agility in physical tasks.
- Unbalanced diet – Your pet might face health issues if you feed him an unbalanced diet. You will encounter a whole bunch of behavioral issues that you didn’t notice before. For instance, a cat or dog suffering from a UTI (urinary tract infection) brought on by an unbalanced diet might be stressed and irritable from the discomfort and pain caused by the condition. The body is a complex vat of biochemical reactions and dogs require more than 40 key nutrients, and the pet food must have a careful balance of all the components.
The best way to ensure your pet’s health and happiness is to take him to the vet for regular examinations and discuss his dietary needs. If your dog has a sudden mood change, it might indicate an underlying behavioral, nutritional or health issue that needs to be addressed.