Does nutrition affect dog behavior? There are not many researches regarding this topic in comparison with studies carried out for human beings. Anyway, some data are recently coming up thanks to some researchers who are paying attention on this topic.
Let's see them together.
First studies in the 1980s
The Mugford research became famous in 1987. He stated
when we study dog behavior, we should take into consideration what he has in his stomach.
The main point was the presence in dog's diet of some specific fibers able to cause small fermentation reactions in dog’s stomach: in fact, at the end of the meal, dogs were inactive for longer time in comparison with dogs who had eaten "inert" fibers.
The role of some amino acids
Gli aminoacidi Tryptophan and tyrosine amino acids are responsible for the activation of some hormones, including serotonin that is known for its effects on mood. Tryptophan acts on the brain; its increase or decrease is therefore able to affect behavior of dogs.
Nutrition affects dog behavior; an aggressive behavior can be found when a low protein diet (19%) is associated with tryptophan integration. On the contrary, in case of high protein diet (31%) not associated with tryptophan, dogs with aggressive behavior can be found easily.
A complicated recipe
However correlation between protein and tryptophan is not as linked as it seems. In case of depressed dogs, for example, the above described link does not occur while in other cases the intestinal microbiota can vary so much on the basis of other factors. Moreover there are other nutrients related to fats and carbohydrates that seem to have a strong influence on behavior and on psychological condition of our faithful four-legged friends.
The most studied links between nutrition and behavior
Regarding fats, the correlation of medium-chain triglycerides improves the cognitive abilities of aged animals and reduces behavioral changes in dogs with epilepsy. Regarding carbohydrates, it has long been known that an increased amount of dietary fiber stimulates a sense of satiety and it has relaxing effects.
In conclusion, the most studied antioxidant principles are those relating to the benefits of vitamin E and vitamin C; both able to improve elderly animals cognitive abilities.
From this point of view, research increasingly aims to study the effects of the microbiota on animal well-being in order to limit dangerous trends related to human nutrition which sometimes have implications for animal nutrition such as dangerous effects on our lovely pets health.