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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The great food debate

Does the type of food we feed our dogs really make much difference to their behaviour?

Should we feed wet or dry? Top of the price range or a more sensible price?

Someone told me, "If the dog likes what goes in and you like what comes out - that's fine!"
As I have a somewhat "excitable" 15-month-old Golden Retriever - I wondered if you could give me some advice as I don't want to swap and change his food for nothing?

Thank you,

Wendy, by email


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  2. Pet food ingredients can absolutely have an effect on behaviour. Animal brains convert tryptophan from the diet into seratonin, which stabalises mood: low levels of seratonin are known to produce adverse behaviour; the best source of tryptophan is from animal proteins.

  3. I believe food most definitely affects their behaviour.
    I think a lot of the commercial supermarket/ cheaper type brands are packed with colours and additives to make it appeal to the human consumers and keep the price down. Unfortunately, with no thought to the affect it has on the dogs. After all, does your dog realy care if his 'meaty chunks' are bright colours of red, green and warm browns!
    I believe you should stick to a good quality simple food.. eg:- royal canin, Burns, arden Grange, Vets kitchen...

    Consult your vet as a lot have a FREE nutrition and diet service.

  4. Oh goodness yes!

    Having recently added to my canine family, the change in behaviour from Starr being on what effectively was "junk food" (full of sugars and E numbers) in the rescue to "proper" food (also known as "dog food that is *not* available in supermarkets) in just three short weeks is quite astounding. She's gone from bouncing around at everything all the time, to being a much calmer, much more able to focus and listen.

    If that isn't enough proof, a friend recently switched her dogs food from one which runs a TV advertising campaign, to one that invests in research and production of food and - again - not using E numbers, sugars, and oodles of corn to pad the measly 4% meat and 2% vegetables out; walking in through her front door is a much nicer affair, the dogs are calmer, have much nicer feeling coats, and are healthier in general.

    The adage "you are what you eat" holds true for dogs just as it does for humans, take a todder and feed it fast food three meals a day for a month and see the behaviour change; then feed it a proper, healthy diet and rejoice in having a calmer, healthier child. Replace child for dog, and you answer your own question :)

  5. I absolutely agree with the comments above. You should very much be feeding the best food you can afford. Premium dog foods are more expensive for a reason, they contain more actual high quality meat rather than fillers. They also use less additives and preservatives. The brands I would recommend are Hill's Science Plan or Vet Essentials, Royal Canin and Purina ProPlan. You will usually find that buying the larger bags works out much more cost effective in the long run.
    I always recommend dry food rather than wet as it is better for their teeth and usually lower in fat.
    Your vet is the best person to advise you on what you should be feeding your dog so it would be worth giving them a call or dropping into the practice.

  6. Dog's have difficulty in digesting grain, which is why most dog's fed on complete food's, poo so much. Yet most of these foods are bulked out with grain as a cheap filler. Add to this colourant's meat derivatives (can be anything from beaks to feather's, chalk for calcium and rancid oil recycled from the human food industry, then yes, food can definately affect behaviour.

    I used to feed a well known cooked/steamed in carton diet, but even this contained rice. I recently switched to RAW, and what a difference it has made to my dog. Lots of energy, though not of the manic sort, an even glossier coat, and teeth that are gleaming.

    There seems to be more health problems in dog's than ever before, some of which are not usually associated with being a problem in dog's, yet here they are cropping up fairly regularly. Cancer's in dog's on the increase (carbohydrates feed cancer cells). Food, or what goes into it, gotta be!

  7. Judith says:

    I think if junk dog food was banned a load less dogs would end up in rescue, it makes many dogs very hyper. Certain foods can make a very big impact on the behaviour and general wellbeing of a dog, due to all the additives for example. I personally now feed raw and my dogs have calmed down a lot and that is just the behavioural change, the other changes mentally and physical have been huge! Dogs do not have these beautiful big shiny teeth for eating dull square shapes dry biscuits and don't care what colour they are either...

  8. When I was a kid I remember a dog trainer I knew who always told people the best food was Chappie and plain biscuits, or raw meat.
    After many years of trying many different feeds we have returned to meat, and the dogs are so much healthier.
    Its easy now to buy frozen meat, and for 2 25Kg dogs its costing us under £1 a day to feed them. the dogs are healthier and happier, and we just remember to mix and match the different meats to ensure a good balance. Plus the younger dog has claimed down and become much more trainable. Also Ash no longer suffers bad wind, and dodgy tummy!

  9. As a COAPE behaviourist one of the first questions we ask in any behaviour case is about the diet. Poor quality food often contains additives or colours which can effect your dog. The protein content of a dog food for a pet dog should be around 18-20% and this should be from meat protein and not anything else. Too much protein in the diet can also cause problems. Dog food labelling is such a grey area it is hard to know what you are buying, but as a rule of thumb, buy the best you can afford.

  10. Christine Bailey21 January 2013 at 09:18

    Most dogs seem to prefer wet food to dry. Just look at the ingredients list - the first should be a named protein source, eg chicken, fish, lamb. Look for a feed that doesn't contain eg animal derivatives, or additives like colouring and artificial preservatives. I think raw is best, but whatever you decide, buy the best you can afford. I think the last person I would ask for advice on feeding would be a vet, tbh!