5 Signs Your Dog’s Diet Is Affecting Their Mood

Has your dog ever started acting over-excited for no reason? Or perhaps they started sleeping longer than normal, not wanting to get up for their usual walk?

The truth is even the smallest of changes can be worrying while we try to narrow down the reasons for the changes to our dog’s behaviour and so this month with the help of Sure Petcare we are looking at the link between a dog’s diet and their behaviour.

In this feature, we will look at five of the most common signs a dog’s diet is affecting their behaviour and five questions to ask yourself as you try to work out if their diet is at the heart of the matter.

5 Signs Your Dog's Diet Is Affecting Their Mood

1. Does Your Dog Have Too Much Energy?

If so, their diet could be wrong for them.

Sure Petcare starts by explaining the difference between ‘energy-rich’ and ‘hyperactive’ dogs and why it’s important to know the difference.

5 Signs Your Dog's Diet Is Affecting Their Mood

“If you feed a young dog a diet that is too energy-rich, this can make them more active. Essentially, you are pumping them full of energy that they will have to try to run off. That’s not the same as “hyperactivity”, which is a very rare problem in dogs and is not caused by diet. Carry on feeding a high energy diet to an adult dog, and he or she will just become obese.

“Working-dog diets are for very active working dogs, not for working breed dogs that live as pets, so stick to a diet that suits your dog’s actual activity pattern. There is a lot of discussion about additives, protein levels and other nutritional components that could affect behaviour, but the truth is that normal, healthy dogs should just be fed a good quality, balanced, dog food.

“If your dog has a behavioural problem, such as hyperactivity, there are much more effective ways to deal with it than by changing diet.”

The importance of your dog's gut health will also play a major role in determining their behaviour.

2. Is Your Dog Sleeping More Than Normal?

If so, their diet could be wrong for them.

Dogs sleep on average for 11-14 hours a day. Sure Petcare explains how a dog’s diet - or being overweight - can affect a dog’s rest.

5 Signs Your Dog's Diet Is Affecting Their Mood

“Being overfed will make a dog lethargic, as will being obese. An indigestible diet will affect a dog’s ability to sleep and rest, so if your dog is windy and lethargic or irritable you might see an improvement in behaviour if you switch to a more digestible diet and feed it earlier in the evening well before your dog goes to bed.

“Any change in activity, appetite, thirst, or behaviour could be a sign of illness, and you should seek professional advice. For example, mild arthritis might only make a dog occasionally lame during walks, which some owners will not see as a serious problem, but aching and stiffness due to that arthritis may make it hard for the dog to sleep, so he or she is tired and lethargic during the day.”

And sleep quality is just as important than sleep quantity, according to the pet tech experts.

“Dogs need somewhere quiet to sleep where they won’t be disturbed by noises and people or other pets moving around. Imagine how frustrating it must be for dogs that have to sleep in a room where a dishwasher or washing machine run for half the night, and they can hear the sounds of cats and wildlife outside when they need to rest.

"Obesity can affect sleep quality in the same way that it does in people, leading to problems like sleep apnea and snoring. The trouble is that there are very few ways to monitor sleep quality, and our dogs can’t tell us when their sleep is being disturbed. That’s where the sleep quality monitoring in wearables like Animo can be very helpful.”

3. Is Your Dog Gaining Weight?

If so, their diet could be wrong for them.

The simple mathematics, whether applied to humans or dogs (or in fact any animal), is that if we don’t burn up the energy created from the calories consumed, we’ll gain weight and being overweight can take its toll on our health, both physically and mentally.

5 Signs Your Dog's Diet Is Affecting Their Mood

Sure Petcare explains more, paying specific attention to how we can monitor what a dog eats versus how much exercise they are getting.

“The first step to weight control is to make sure that you are feeding within the guidelines provided by the pet food manufacturer.

“Then, take into account the amount of exercise your dog gets on a weekly basis. Sometimes it’s hard to estimate exercise levels when dogs go off-leash because the amount they run around can vary a lot.

“As dogs get older or arthritic they will run around less during a walk, and that change in energy expenditure can lead to obesity if we don’t change the amount we feed. This is where the new wearable technologies like Animo can help.”

4. Is Your Dog’s Eating Routine Changing?

If so, their diet may no longer suit them - or maybe it’s their routine that needs to change.

Dogs are often creatures of habit and changes to when and how often they eat each day can result in fluctuating releases of energy, as their bodies adapt to the changes.

5 Signs Your Dog's Diet Is Affecting Their Mood

Sure Petcare adds, “Like us, dogs need time to digest their food, so feeding them too late in the evening could leave them feeling bloated and uncomfortable at night, which will leave them sluggish and irritable during the day.

“After a meal, most dogs want to have some exercise, and they may want to play. We have to be careful about this because it’s not good for dogs to engage in vigorous jumping and running exercise immediately after eating, but a nice leash-walk is a great idea after a meal. A hungry dog can become an irritable dog, so we should try to stick to feeding times that suit us and them.”

5. Is Your Dog Eating Stuff That They Shouldn’t?

Some nutritional experts say that when a dog is not satisfied with their diet, i.e. still hungry after they’ve eaten, they may eat undesirable things (such as poo! this is also known as coprophagia). If your dog develops this habit, first, rule out any underlying health issues then look at their diet.

If your dog’s diet isn’t filling them up, it may be worthwhile looking at alternative options that will make them feel full after eating.

5 Signs Your Dog's Diet Is Affecting Their Mood

Sure Petcare explains how to tell the difference between dogs being dogs and scavenging because it’s a natural behaviour and it being a sign that a dog’s diet might be affecting their behaviour.

“Dogs are scavengers, so they are always on the lookout for things to eat. That’s normal, but the drive to scavenge varies between dogs; some are obsessed with it. The best way to deal with this is to teach your dog a “leave” command so you can stop him/her from picking things up. Then, keep food off worksurfaces, put bins out of reach, and make every effort to put away anything your dog might scavenge.

“Lastly, if you have a dog who likes scavenging, provide some food finding activities, such as activity feeders, puzzles and food finding games. These will help use up your dog’s drive to scavenge.

What about dogs who like to raid bins?

Sure Petcare’s expert says, “The problem is that there are lots of things that look like food to a dog, but are dangerous for them to eat. Wrapping and packaging are a common problem, because they often have trace amounts of food on them, and are fun to chew. The same is true for dogs that pick up an eat food-contaminated objects like a baby’s dummy.

“There are some dogs who do eat inedible things like stone, wood and plastic. Sometimes it’s because the texture makes them enjoyable to chew, but a small number of dogs will swallow these things because they think we are going to take them away.

"That may seem a very odd thing to do, but we have to remember that wild dog species will swallow lumps of relatively indigestible food and carry it around in their stomach, before regurgitating it into a pit and burying it. They will then eat it when it has decomposed. It sounds revolting, but they’re using their stomach like a carrier bag. The best way to avoid this is to teach young dogs a 'drop' command so that you can get things away from them before they swallow them.”

As always if your dog starts acting unusually for what you know is normal behaviour for them, it’s worth seeking expert advice from your vet.

This article is sponsored by Sure Petcare

Monitor every bark, scratch and itch with Animo, the dog behaviour and activity monitor, to gain a deeper understanding of your dog’s wellbeing.

Track activity, sleep, barking, scratching and shaking through the app – giving you peace of mind and helping to care for your best friend like never before.

Animo’s rugged design fits into your dog’s busy lifestyle: This waterproof monitor fits on your dog’s collar and is so light, your dog won’t even know that it’s there. Using the Sure Petcare Animo app, you will receive:

Behaviour tracking: Personalised to your dog – accurately monitor when your dog barks, scratches or shakes when there are significant changes. These could indicate underlying problems such as fleas, skin allergies, ear infections or environmental factors causing stress.

5 Signs Your Dog's Diet Is Affecting Their Mood

Activity monitoring: Set and monitor daily activity goals for your dog and view their activity reports by day, week, month or year.

Sleep quality: Set customised night time sleep hours to see when your dog is sleeping, and how well their sleep is.

Rest: Look at your dog’s resting patterns during the day; most dogs should be resting until you come home. Keep check on how your dog is resting throughout the day.

Calories: Track the calories burnt by your dog and compare this to a recommended daily target based on their weight.

Animo allows you to compare reports over time to identify changes in behaviour and activity, helping provide you with unique information about your dog. This starts from the moment that you attach Animo to your dog’s collar. Information in the reports can be shared at your next vet visit, giving your pet the best care, whatever their age.


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