Can natural food help canine stress
Stress and Nervousness.
Stress and anxiety in dogs is distressing at any time, but at certain times of the year, for instance the firework season, it can become a real problem.
The symptoms of stress are many, and include aggression, irritability, failing to ‘show’ properly in the ring, defecation, nervousness, fussy eating, mounting, and incontinence. Stress can also manifest itself in physical problems such as heart concerns, digestive ailments, and skin lesions.
Stress and anxiety are problems which must be solved.
Yet, until recently, the question of whether food can affect a dog’s behaviour has been a subject of debate amongst dog behaviourists, breeders and trainers.
There is, however, more and more evidence and studies to prove the old saying “we are what we eat” – in other words food does have an effect upon how your dog behaves.
What to look for.
It has been found that to tackle stress, serotonin is very important in a diet.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that is involved in many vital body functions – in dogs and in humans - and is very important in the regulation of mood and sleep. Low levels of serotonin can lead to increased anxiety, depression, lack of concentration and obesity.
But getting serotonin is more complicated than just reading a packet to see if the food contains it! Your dog doesn't get serotonin from its food, but it makes serotonin from tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid.
So, which foods contain tryptophan? To keep it simple, we will restrict this to two foods which can easily be found in a high quality holistic food, such as Golden Eagle Holistic Health – salmon and eggs.
A fatty fish, such as wild Atlantic human grade salmon is rich in oils containing the essential fats EPA and DHA. These help to reduce anxiety, stress, smooth the mood swings and ease depression.
Eggs are also rich in Omega 3 fats, an excellent source of protein, and are almost 100 % digestible. Eggs contain naturally occurring complex combinations of amino acids – including tryptophan - and Golden Eagle Holistic Health use the whole egg to cover any deficiencies in amino-acid profiles which meats may leave out.
As a general rule, in order to give your dog the best possible nutrition, and to minimise behavioural / stress problems, your dog food should contain only human grade fish or meats, be clean of chemicals, without preservatives, antibiotics, colourants, pesticides, herbicides or any other chemical or synthetic materials. Golden Eagle Holistic Health meets these criteria.
A hyperactive or hyperkinetic dog is rare, but that is no reason whilst the subject should not be included here. Many vets agree that most symptoms of hyperactivity in dogs can be traced to breed characteristics, conditioned behaviour, lack of appropriate physical and mental stimulation, or a combination of all these. How often the dog eats, what it eats, the exercise routine and time spent alone are all factors to be considered.
It is, of course, natural that a puppy has unlimited energy, but this should reduce as the dog gets older – perhaps the age of three is the time when a more relaxed attitude is usually noticed.
If you think your dog is hyperactive, take it plenty of walks and let it socialise with other dogs. But diet can also be important. Use a balanced diet to avoid food intolerances or allergies. (see separate article on allergies). Food intolerance and sensitivity can contribute to hyperactive behaviour.
Irritability, behavioural problems, aggression and nervousness can, of course, have their roots elsewhere, and it is not uncommon for these factors to show themselves because the dog is in pain, has tummy ache or is generally out of sorts. This is often because the digestive system is not working as it should, so the body is not getting the nutrients it needs. This can be quickly corrected by ensuring the food has both pre biotics and pro biotics included in its formula. It is amazing that so few foods include these – especially the pre biotics which lay the foundation for a healthy digestion. Nutrition is a complex subject, but the basics of pre / pro biotics should never be ignored so that the whole package – including the amino acids - can get to work.
A regular feeding pattern is important, with twice or three times a day feeding preferred.
Stress and hyperactive tension can sometimes be easily relieved by regular exercise. This will also put the body in better shape to get the full advantage of a healthy feeding regime.
The chosen food should, of course, do much more than just combat nervousness, stress and behavioural problems. It should give a completely balanced nutrigenomic diet ensuring a great digestion, a healthy skin and shiny coat, as well as taking good care of eyes, ears and all vital organs.
This is the science of nutrigenomics which balances the dog’s DNA with the food intake.
Golden Eagle Holistic Health offer two foods which are especially high in anxiety reducing ingredients :- Chicken formula, which is a multi protein food including Atlantic salmon, and the single protein Salmon & Oatmeal. Both foods also contain whole eggs and so have all the benefits listed above.
No food can give an immediate impact, although Golden Eagle Holistic Health will begin to show its beneficial effect within a few days. The full benefit will be found after 60 days when the unique blend of pre biotics and pro biotics have been given time to do a complete job.