This is a guest post from animal enthusiast, Susan Long.
Just like humans, dogs require a balanced diet to maintain their health, vitality and general well being.
A common misconception held about dogs is that they are strictly carnivores, requiring a diet consisting solely of various meats and meat by-products.
Wild animals instinctively know what foods their body requires to perform at an optimum level and members of the canine family found living in the wild are often seen foraging for foods including fruits, root vegetables, and even grasses, to enhance their meat-based diet.
Domestic animals do not always have the same instincts. Domestically bred dogs lose a little more of their independent nature over generations and they rely almost solely on humans to provide for their basic needs.
To this end, dogs are often observed to eat whatever is put in front them, whether it is good for them or not.
While it is widely known that a poor diet can result in issues with a dog’s weight management, dental health, and coat quality, not many people recognize that it can also contribute to behavioral problems.
A healthy dog is playful, energetic and alert but when a diet is too high in carbohydrates this healthy energy can escalate into hyperactivity and is suspected to even contribute to aggression. (Behavior Problems in Dogs, William Campbell)
With so many mass produced varieties of dog food containing artificial colours, flavors, preservatives and even sugars it is little wonder that these can have a negative effect on a dog.
A dog’s digestive system is not capable of processing these ingredients effectively and they can have a huge effect on its blood sugar levels that can lead to startling shifts in behavior.
In addition to being low in sugar, a canine’s natural diet is also very low in grains and many lower priced brands of dry food (and some tinned foods) contain excessive amounts of them.
It is not only commercial dog food that can be an issue though, since many owners like to give their dog a treat from the table, bread, human biscuits and even pastas.
A dog’s inability to break down these products effectively can lead to weight problems, allergies, lethargy and irritability.
As the dog gains weight, its legs are required to support a heavier load, putting pressure on joints and causing pain.
A negative consequence to this is that the dog will sometimes resort to pain induced aggression and other inappropriate displays of behavior.
Common examples include growling, nipping and digging in their heels when going for a walk.
A change of diet often helps change behavior in conjunction with animal behavior therapy and training classes.
When a dog is not receiving a nutritious balance of foods, it will also have trouble learning and struggle with training lessons.
Some experts recommend feeding your dog an organic mix of meats and vegetables with a small amount of carbohydrates.
Whether purchasing or making your own dog food you should look for ingredients that follow a 50/40/10 ratio such as 50% vegetables, 40% meat (with a preference for turkey and fish over beef and chicken) and 10% carbohydrate.
Make sure that ingredients contain no animal by-products, no preservatives and no additives.
About the Author: Susan Long is a former animal handler for a large animal welfare organization and now works to help families find a happier life at Sell Property Quickly