Behavioral issues can be caused by many and sometimes multiple influencers. Many people think behavior is heavily based on genetics. While genetics can certainly have an impact, you cannot downplay the impact of environmental influences. One of those influences is diet, and that is what this blog will be about. What you feed your dog and how you feed them can have either positive or detrimental impact on your dog mentally, emotionally and physically.
The Dangers of Free Feeding Your Dog
Some people find it advantageous to their schedule to leave food down at all times, allowing the dog to ‘free feed’. Some dogs do fine with this while others have a variety of detrimental effects. Some dogs with constant access to food may eat too much and become overweight or even obese. This weight issue can cause pain, inflammation and discomfort throughout their body, especially joint pain. This can lead to stress, anxiety and may affect the dog’s outward behavior.
With food constantly down, the dog may develop a desire or need to guard the food against other household pets and often even the owner. This creates a danger, especially if there are children or smaller pets in the home. This constant stressor can also build a base anxiety that might bleed into other behaviors as well.
Risks of a Dog’s Starvation Schedule
Some owners go with the old idea that you need not feed a dog more than once per day. They feed a huge meal either in the morning or at night, and the dog gets nothing the rest of the time. This can cause discomfort and bloating after the meal, followed by excessive hunger, as the large meal has been digested and moved through the digestive tract. Feeding like this can cause many digestive issues, including stomach problems as the result of a stomach filled with only digestive acids. Resulting behaviors can be food guarding, sensitivity to touch around the abdominal area, food gobbling, food stealing, destructive chewing, etc.
How to Avoid the Dog’s Starvation Schedule
For most of us, feeding many times per day can be quite difficult, as we generally work all day. Feeding once in the morning and once at night can be sufficient to keep the dog’s stomach in a healthier, happier condition. The dog will be less likely to have any of the associated behaviors listed above, because the dog won’t enter into a ‘starvation’ mode. You can make things even more environmentally stimulating by putting the dog’s meal or treats in a treat ball that he has to work to get the food out of. It promotes slower, healthier eating, while also stimulating the dog’s senses. Don’t be afraid to use feeding time as an opportunity to do some training as well. You can ask your dog to sit and wait before eating, you can ask for obedience behaviors for hands full of food, etc.
Vary Your Dog’s Feeding Schedule
You may want to vary your feeding schedule moderately so your dog does not develop an absolute feeding time. If your dog develops an absolute feeding time, it may develop stress situations if the food is not delivered at those times. Feed sometimes when you first wake up, sometimes when you are about ready to leave for work and any time in between. When you get home, don’t rush right over to feed your dog. Mix it up so your dog doesn’t have a strong expectation the moment you walk in the door.
The Effects of Proteins on Your Dog
Some proteins are considered ‘cool’ proteins and some are considered ‘hot proteins’. These two types of proteins can have very different effects on a dog’s physical, emotional and mental status. A dog’s breed type, allergy issues and joint status are all things that need to be considered when picking a food to feed your dog. A dog that tends towards hot energy, a dog that pants a lot, may have anxiety, may be physically overly energetic, may do better on a cool protein food. A dog that is always looking for a warm place to lay, may have ears that are always cold to the touch or may be lethargic would likely do better on a warm or hot protein food. A competition dog may gain a competitive edge on a hotter protein food.
Examples of cool proteins include rabbit and duck. Examples of neutral and warm proteins are beef, beef liver, tripe, pork, turkey, chicken and ham. Examples of hot proteins are bison, lamb and venison.
Carbohydrates, the Good and the Bad
While the amount of carbohydrates you feed is important, the quality of the carbohydrates is far more important. Make sure that the carbs you feed your dog are healthy, not ‘empty’. Plant based proteins where the whole plant has been used will promote and support a healthy gut for your dog. Ground organic superfoods such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, quinoa, amaranth, legumes green split peas and green lentils, provide a healthy fiber and contain many nutrients, including the B vitamins that help metabolize your dog’s food. Fiber promotes a healthy gut which is critical for absorbing mealtime nutrients. Treats made with organic plant based superfoods are a nice boost to your dog’s diet as well as organic superfood nutrient boost powders added to their mealtime, which can also be a source of antioxidants. If your dog is overweight and suffers from joint pain, you can even add organic nutrient boost powders to their mealtime that include Green Lipped Mussel (GLM) powder known for its healthy fatty acids and natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin, all known to support healthy joints. Remember that healthy carbohydrates can help to build energy and stamina, and look no further than Mother Nature’s own backyard, nothing artificial.
Unhealthy carbohydrates are much more likely to go on your dog’s waistline, as well as possibly creating nervous energy/anxiety associated negative behaviors.
What Materials is Your Dog’s Food Bowl Made Of?
Sounds like a silly question, huh? There are so many different food bowls available. Some are cute, some are high class, some are high up. There are about as many opinions as there are options. Some believe the higher up food bowls help digestion, some believe they hinder digestion. It isn’t really clear which is accurate. Plastic bowls are extremely common; however, it is a belief that plastic releases toxins into the food when the food is wet and or warm. If the dog’s teeth scrape tiny minute pieces of plastic, those pieces enter their system as well. It is a very common belief that the very best dish for food, while not very attractive, is the stainless-steel bowl. It is near indestructible so your dog won’t be breaking and ingesting pieces as is possible with a ceramic bowl. Your dog won’t be chewing it up as is possible with a plastic bowl. While the type of bowl does not affect behavior, the safety of the bowl due to behavior is a valid concern. We hope you find this information helpful. As always, we love sharing information and encourage everyone to share as well.
We hope you find this information helpful. As always, we love sharing information and encourage everyone to share as well.