Dog behavior can at times be a baffling thing for pup parents. If you’ve noticed behavioral changes in your pet—like your normally peppy and friendly fur baby getting aggressive with other dogs or dragging their feet on walks—then you’re probably wondering about the cause of these changes.
While dog behavior is complex and it’s hard to determine the source of behavioral changes without knowing the pup and their family, stress is often pointed to as a probable root cause, and for good reason. Any stresser, from being moved to an uncomfortable and unfamiliar environment to the pain of a physical illness or injury, is likely to temporarily change your pet’s disposition and temperament.
However, there’s another factor that can cause changes in your pup’s behavior that’s often overlooked: their diet. When dogs aren’t getting all the vitamins, minerals and macronutrients that they need, they may experience lethargy, irregular bowel movements and even allergy symptoms such as itchy, yeasty paws and ears.
In this blog post, we’re going over a few specific dog behavior changes and exploring why each one may be linked to insufficient nutrition. We’ll also share some information about the benefits of feeding your fur baby unprocessed raw food—aka the diet of their ancestors—and how you can use these dietary improvements to improve your dog’s overall health and well-being and possibly reverse any problematic behavioral changes.
Dog behavior #1: Rejecting play
If your previously playful fur baby will no longer move an inch when you throw the ball for them, then assuming they’re not physically injured, that’s a telltale sign that their diet is not providing them the nutrients they need for sustained energy. The most common type of dog food, dry kibble, is high in carbs and fortified with vitamins that may be less easily absorbed by your pet’s body compared to the naturally occurring vitamins in raw meat.
So, how can a raw food diet help your pet to get their spark back? For one, raw and unprocessed meat is high in protein and healthy fats, which are the key to energy that lasts all day (unlike carbs, which may cause energy spikes and crashes). On the other hand, B vitamins are especially crucial for energy, and these are abundant in a raw diet, especially in salmon and organ meats such as liver.
Dog behavior #2: Being aggressive with people or other dogs
While some dogs are more genetically predisposed to aggressive behavior, training and socialization can play an important role in reducing those tendencies. If your dog is showing serious signs of aggression, such as snapping at people or other dogs, we recommend consulting with a vet or professional trainer. However, if you think the aggression may amount to grumpiness caused by stress, a healthier diet may bring positive results.
Dogs may feel stressed due to physical discomfort resulting from allergies, such as rashes and stomach pain. Many pup parents have found a solution to these symptoms in the raw food diet, since it doesn’t contain common allergy triggers such as wheat and soy. Plus, the energy level boost mentioned in the previous section is bound to make your pet feel better and, therefore, less prone to aggression.
Dog behavior #3: Constantly whining to go out
If your dog has frequent diarrhea and you can’t identify another cause, there’s a very good chance that diet is to blame. There are several ways that kibble causes an upset stomach in some dogs. The high amount of fiber in processed dry food, for example, can be hard for dogs to digest. Many dogs also overeat when they’re fed kibble, since this kind of food is less satiating, and the excess calories may trigger stomach problems.
On the other hand, it’s also possible for kibble to trigger constipation in dogs, a problem that’s just as uncomfortable for them as diarrhea. This is because dry food has a very low moisture content, so dogs that don’t frequent the water bowl are likely to become dehydrated. Raw food helps boost hydration in animals because it contains all the moisture naturally present in meat.
If you have any lingering questions about the connection between raw food, dog well-being and dog behavior, contact us and we’ll be happy to help you.