Can Diet Affect Behavior?

Dog Food Advisor Forums Diet and Health Can Diet Affect Behavior?

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  • #101951 Report Abuse

    Simon W
    Member

    I’ve been feeding Beneful to my 15 month old Dachshund since April. We had some issues when he was a puppy with certain foods causing hyperactivity or vomiting, and his coat tends to be dull. He doesn’t have either problem on Beneful, everything seems perfect, and I know it’s not “highly rated”, but I was in a financial bind recently and had to temporarily downgrade.

    Even though Beneful worked for him, we’ve been looking to get him onto something better, but still budget friendly, and are slowly transitioning him to Canidae. Today was his first 100% Canidae day. He’s been “mushy” all day, not very active or alert. But about two hours ago, the neighbors shot off fireworks, which he both heard and saw from the kitchen window. Normally, he’s technically not afraid of fireworks, but they unnerve him a little bit. Soon enough, he’ll get over his fear and starts yapping at them like he’s so brave (lol!), then gets over it in a few minutes.

    Tonight, though, he FREAKED OUT. Almost broke his neck trying to run away, could not settle down or be comforted, and had to be locked in a windowless part of the basement (where his toys are and he usually sleeps at night) just to get his behavior slightly under control. Two hours have passed, though, and he’s STILL barking every few minutes, pacing, and unsettled. I have never seen him behave like this before. We had some difficulties in finding a good puppy food for him, and after trying Iams, he went off the walls and became aggressive. I thought it was crazy to suspect the food in that instance, but the behavior did go away after it was removed. Now I’m wondering if this extreme reaction to the fireworks, which is completely uncharacteristic for this dog, could have something to do with his recent diet change? Any help or advice is appreciated!

    #101973 Report Abuse

    Susan
    Member

    Hi Simon,
    I really think your looking into the diet thing way too much, looks like the fireworks stressed him out big time, my boy is the same, I hate New Years Eve with all the fireworks……Sounds like your poor little dog couldn’t get a break today….. I’ve seen my boy have a few bad luck days, where he just doesn’t get a break….. When your boy is stressing out having an anxiety attack, calm him down, pick him up & pat him around his head & ears, playing softly with their ears gives them a calming feeling & relaxes them, treat him like he’s your baby, you wouldn’t put a little baby in a windowless basement if he was crying & stressing out, you may have a very nervous dog, most small dogs are nervous. I have a very nervous cat, I have to calm her down & tell her it’s OK, stop stressing out it’s OK & hold her & pat her head, then I reward her with some treats, just a few kibble biscuits she normally eats & she forgets what’s stressing her out as soon as she see’s me getting her food container.. also grab his favorite ball & play with him so he forgets about the fireworks or what ever noise has stressed him out. There’s a supplement called ”
    … Sometimes when a dog feels better when eating a new food they will be more hyper & play more that’s a good thing, I love it when Patch plays & act like a nut, it means he feels good & isn’t sick with his IBD….
    I feed “Canidea” Pure Wild + TOTW… Which Canidae formula are you feeding & did you take 7-10days to slowly introduce the new Canidae formula?… when poos start going sloppy when introducing a new kibble stop adding the new kibble & add more of the old kibble for a couple of days then start adding the new kibble again, if your boy has a sensitive stomach give “Taste Of The Wild” Sierra Mountain, Roasted Lamb a try, it’s a single protein kibble with just Lamb Meal & has limited ingredients, single protein & limited ingredients are best to feed a dog with a sensitive stomach…My boy does real well on the TOTW Sierra Mountain, Roasted Lamb formula, it’s my go to food when he’s having a IBD flare & I get him all well again….
    If his poo’s don’t firm up on the Canidae, the read what are the ingredients are, what fat %, Fiber % & protein % is & keep a diary…..

    #101974 Report Abuse

    anon101
    Member

    In my opinion, his behavior is not related to his diet. Many dogs suffer from anxiety, thunderstorm phobia and separation anxiety. Often there is a genetic component that determines which dogs would be more vulnerable. There are effective medications (prescribed by your vet) to treat this.
    I would make an appointment with your vet to have him examined and to discuss medication options. Some dogs only need the meds for a few months or prn (as needed) in conjunction with other treatments, for example “The Thundershirt”.
    Don’t be fooled by over the counter meds and supplements (waste of money).
    Your dog is becoming aggressive during these episodes, youcould try putting a blanket over him, like a tent, a safe dark place. Refrain from getting “in his face” when he is upset.
    Regarding food, I have heard good things about Pro Plan Focus Salmon for sensitive stomachs.

    Excerpt below from https://www.vetary.com/dog/condition/thunderstorm-phobia
    Diagnosis of Thunderstorm Phobia in Dogs
    As this is a situational issue, your veterinarian will rely heavily on history and your observations of your dogs’ behavior during storms for a diagnosis (unless your appointment just happens to coincide with a thunderstorm). They can do some in-office tests to check the dogs’ fear response to noises and other unusual stimuli. Your veterinarian will also likely do a quick physical exam to ensure the dog has not harmed itself or experienced any physiological complications from the intense fear reaction.
    Treatment of Thunderstorm Phobia in Dogs
    Dogs should begin treatment as soon as this problem is recognized, as it will only get worse as they age. Your veterinarian can recommend a course of behavior modification and desensitization to lessen your dog’s anxiety during thunderstorms. Playing the sound of storms at a quiet level while giving the dog treats has been known to work in some cases. As the dog remains relaxed and has a pleasant association, the volume can be increased, and treats continued until they are no longer fearful of loud noises.
    Your veterinarian may determine that your dog could benefit from anti-anxiety medications or a sedative to be used when a thunderstorm is eminent. Some owners have also had success with dog “wraps” that can comfort the dog by giving them a sense of being swaddled in a protective way. These products are available through many retail outlets and can even have the bonus of offering your dog protection from a static buildup in their fur.

    This is not veterinary advice; consult your veterinarian.

    #101975 Report Abuse

    anon101
    Member

    Ps: Do not offer the dog food when he is going through these “thunderstorm phobia” episodes. Not only will he not be interested, but the risk of him becoming aggressive and biting you is very likely.
    Would you want to eat while you were hysterical and in the middle of a panic attack?

    This is not veterinary advise; consult your veterinarian.

    #101990 Report Abuse

    CockalierMom
    Member

    Simon, rather then guessing if it is the new food, just put him back on Beneful and see if his behavior goes back to when he was doing good before. This will give you a definite answer whether food contributed to the extreme reaction to fireworks.

    #101991 Report Abuse

    anon101
    Member

    Below is an article copied minus pictures.
    https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/06/28/why-thunder-and-fireworks-make-dogs-anxious/?_r=0
    If you are able to access the link, there are 183 comments, so you may find something helpful.

    A New Treatment for Dogs Scared by Thunder and Fireworks
    By Jan Hoffman June 28, 2016 2:30 am
    It is entirely possible that no one dreads the dog days of summer more than dogs themselves.
    Sodden heat gathers itself into sudden barrages of pounding thunder, crackling lightning and pane-rattling rain. Drives dogs crazy, all that noise.
    And then, on the Fourth of July: fireworks.
    By some estimates, at least 40 percent of dogs experience noise anxiety, which is most pronounced in the summer. Animal shelters report that their busiest day for taking in runaway dogs is July 5.
    Veterinarians tell of dogs who took refuge in hiding places so tight that they got stuck, who gnawed on door handles, who crashed through windows or raced into traffic — all desperate efforts to escape inexplicable collisions of noise and flashing light. Ernie, a wired-hair pointer, was so terrified by thunderstorms that he would vault fences at his Maryland farm and run in a straight line for miles.
    “It’s very serious,” said Dr. Melissa Bain, an associate professor of clinical animal behavior at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. “It’s a true panic disorder with a complete flight response.”
    Over the years, a mishmash of remedies for noise anxiety have sprung up: homeopathic blends; a calming pheromone; CDs of thunderstorms mixed with Beethoven; swaddling jackets ; even Prozac and Valium. But this month, the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for canine noise aversion (a term encompassing mild discomfort to phobia) came on the market. The drug, Sileo, inhibits norepinephrine, a brain chemical associated with anxiety and fear response.
    In the coming days, the annual onslaught of calls will pour into vets: “‘The fireworks are happening and my dog will freak out, so I need something to stop that, and I need it right now!’” Dr. Bain said.
    Some vets prescribe strong sedatives, but even if the immediate crisis is averted, the underlying phobia remains untreated.
    Being startled by a loud noise is normal, for dogs as well as humans. But these dogs cannot settle back down. Even if most reactions are not as extreme as the dog who tears out its nails while frantically scratching a door, many dogs will cower, pace and defecate indoors.
    Cats can have noise aversion, though reports are less common. Animal behavior experts say cats often seem more self-reliant and understated than dogs, so when they hide under beds during storms, owners may not read that response as unusual.
    Veterinary behaviorists say that as years pass, dogs with noise aversion may associate one sensation with another: storm-phobic tremors can be set off merely by dark clouds.
    And thunderstorms are complicated beasts. “There are significant pressure changes, frantic winds, massive electrical discharges, concussive sounds: Dogs can hear above and below our auditory range,” said Dr. Peter H. Eeg, a veterinarian in Poolesville, Md., who has been reporting Sileo results in patients to Zoetis, the company that distributes the drug.
    Wrigley, a 10-year-old golden retriever in Naperville, Ill., started trembling three hours before a recent storm, said Allene Anderson, a foster caretaker of abandoned dogs.
    “She was desperate to climb down my throat,” Ms. Anderson said. “I got down on the floor with her, and she clawed me. She couldn’t get close enough.” After the storm passed, Wrigley quaked for hours.
    “If owners don’t understand what’s going through the dog’s mind,” Ms. Anderson said, “they shout and throw them in the basement. That just makes it worse.”
    Countless other noises set off dogs: jackhammers, lawn mowers, coffee grinders. One vet said that even garments designed to cocoon dogs in a secured wrap can irritate some by the sound of Velcro flaps being ripped apart. A toddler’s shrieks freaked out Winnie, an Indiana bulldog; her owner, Dr. Sara L. Bennett, a veterinary behaviorist, taught Winnie to relax with yoga breaths.
    During a thunderstorm two years ago, Rebecca Roach was awakened at 3 a.m. by Stella, her 6-year-old miniature Australian shepherd, clambering on her chest, panting, whining and shaking.
    “My instinct was to comfort her,” said Ms. Roach, who lives in Boyds, Md. “so I held her until the storm passed.”
    But behavior specialists disagree about whether owners should comfort animals. Dr. Daniel S. Mills, a veterinarian at the University of Lincoln in England who is an expert on canine noise aversion, suggests that owners “acknowledge the dog but not fuss over it. Then show that the environment is safe and not compatible with threat, by playing around and seeing if the dog wants to join you. But don’t force it. Let it make a choice.”
    Other experts say that soothing a spooked animal, bred to seek safety with its human, is just fine. “You can’t reinforce anxiety by comforting a dog,” Dr. Bain said. “You won’t make the fear worse. Do what you need to do to help your dog.”
    Other tips include muffling noise with quiet music and, if possible, staying with the dog in a windowless, interior room. Because a dog’s flight response is on overload, it is seeking a haven.
    For years, veterinarians treated noise phobia with acepromazine, a tranquilizer. It sedates the dog but is not an anti-anxiety medication. During a thunderstorm, the dog can still see and hear everything. But like someone having a nightmare in which he or she cannot run from danger, the frightened dog can’t move to escape. So veterinary behaviorists say that acepromazine can exacerbate noise aversion.
    Some dogs function better with Prozac, but as with humans, the daily medicine takes four to six weeks to become effective.
    Stella was impervious to prescriptions. During thunderstorm season, she and Ms. Roach lost hours of sleep. Ms. Roach tried positive reinforcement: When Stella’s symptoms would begin, she would be given treats from the night stand.
    “Then Stella started climbing on my chest at 3 a.m., whimpering, whining and looking at the night stand,” Ms. Roach said. “And no thunderstorm! That was the end of that.”
    The new canine noise aversion drug, Sileo, is actually a micro-amount of a medication approved as a sedative for minor veterinary procedures —- a flavorless gel, measured in a syringe, that is squeezed between the dog’s cheek and gum and absorbed within 30 minutes.
    Orion, the Finnish company that developed it, tested it on several hundred noise-averse dogs during two years of New Year’s fireworks. Three-quarters of the owners rated the dogs’ response as good to excellent; their pets remained unperturbed. The drug lasts several hours, after which another dose can be administered.
    A syringe costs about $30 and holds several weight-dependent doses. Sileo’s main side effect, in 4.5 percent of dogs, is vomiting.
    “I’m not naïve enough to think this is the miracle cure,” said Dr. Emily Levine, a veterinary behaviorist in Fairfield, N.J. But she considered it a worthy option.
    The optimal solution, vets say, is catching the response early, and desensitizing the dog with calibrated recordings of the offending noise, and positive conditioning.
    But training takes time, patience and consistency.
    “And humans,” Dr. Eeg said, “are one of the most inconsistent species on the planet.”

    #102007 Report Abuse

    Simon W
    Member

    Thanks everyone for the responses!

    I did not coddle him during the ordeal because that can reinforce the fear, like you’re telling him its ok to be afraid. We had a rescue with seizures and phobias of loud noises 20 years ago, and a professional trainer gave us the advice to either ignore or make light of the situation. That’s what always works when Moose hears loud noises, and I was able to calm him a little bit by offering a few pieces of his old food. Honestly, I never would have suspected the food change except for the fact there was no other difference to account for it, and I would say he doesn’t actually have a full blown loud noise phobia otherwise. Just some more nervousness than should be normal that he easily gets over.

    Today his berhavior and activity level seems better, except that he seems more snappish and aggressive with my other two, elderly Dachshunds. They’re on Royal Canin Dental prescription food, but I did give Max, our 15 year old male, a few pieces of Canidae this morning, as a treat. Not only is Moose acting slightly more aggressive with the other dogs today, so is Max. I don’t know what to think.

    I’m going to keep Moose on the Canidae for at least another day or two, and if I notice any more unusual behaviors, I’ll switch him back to the Beneful cold turkey to see what happens. I wonder if it might be the heat, or if the food really is to blame???

    @ Susan: Which Canidae formula are you feeding & did you take 7-10days to slowly introduce the new Canidae formula?

    I introduced the food over about a period of five days. No vomiting, diarrhea or loose stools. He usually vomits a little at night after new foods are introduced, but he didn’t with this. I’m using the All Life Stages formula, btw.

    #102009 Report Abuse

    Susan
    Member

    Hi Simon, I feed the Canidae Pure Wild Boar grain free limited ingredients low carbohydrates… look at the Canidae Pure Meadow Senior for your older dogs, rotate with the Royal Canin Dental vet diet, feed one formula for breakfast & the Canidae formula for dinner but first introduce the Canidae Pure Meadow Senior over 7-10 days…
    If Moose hasn’t vomited or doing sloppy poo’s & is doing well, then just keep feeding the Canidae, it’s probably all a coincidence with what’s happening with Moose… I have a dog with IBD & skin allergies & he does real well on Canidae, we’ve tried the Life Stages, All life Stages & the Life Stages, Platinum & Pure Land…..
    When I rescued my Staffy he was terrified of thunderstorm & fireworks he came from the quiet country town & I live in town full of loud noises, ships blowing their horn etc..
    I just made Patch feel very comfortable, held him & showed him its all OK & showed him Jeremy our old cat, he’s OK he’s not stressing, it didn’t work ignoring Patch, it seem to make him worse, he’d shake & vibrate for hours, 4yrs later he’s really good now, when there’s a storm or New Years fireworks, he’s not shaking or panting, he goes to sleep now, they just need to trust in our words & everything does work out OK…..Sometimes comforting them does work…..
    You could try a natural remedy called “Rescue Remedy” you put a few drops on their tongue the Rescue Remedy calms them down before going on a long trips, loud noises etc, it’s sold pet shops & Chemist works really well I’ve been told, the lady that baths Patch said she uses Rescue Remedy drops on her old dog, she’s a real stress head…..

    #102010 Report Abuse

    Cath N
    Member

    Hi Simon.. I have two dachshunds….the .only kibble they would eat is Paul Newman organic. You can buy from publix (Florida store, you may find in your town too) it’s affordable but stay away from Beneful, and Purina products. I have small doxies and the homemade care is well worth the effort and peace of mind. So many pet foods are outsourced. My doxies are 16y.o., and healthy but one has periodic irritable bowel. So now it’s only breast of chicken, boiled sweet potato and vit. B. They are doing great. Had many years of trying kibble brands, and home cooked food but as they are older this diet works well for them, limited fat and small amount of protein. Blood labs and teeth are great for their age.

    My one Doxie is very afraid of the Florida thunderstorms. I put on her thunder shirt, she routinely goes to a safe room that she likes and waits it out. (When she was a pup the breeder had her and other pups in the garage where the storms were louder and we’re sure caused her fear). There’s also from the health food store “rescue remedy/calming flower drops” which also helps her anxiety.

    Best of luck with your fur baby

    #102012 Report Abuse

    CockalierMom
    Member

    Hi Simon, I just checked the ingredients for Iams Puppy, Beneful, and Canidae All Life Stages. Iams and Canidae both have prebiotics, and Beneful does not–that is your answer. Iams has FOS (Fructooligosaccharides) and Canidae has inulin (usually chicory root) as a prebiotic and papaya and pineapple act as digestive enzymes. After reading the way you say Moose reacted to Iams, and now the change in behavior with Canidae, I am 100% certain that he has a sensitivity to prebitoics. It took me two years to figure out that prebiotics would set Lucy off. FOS is the worst, but any prebiotic causes her ears to become extremely sensitive to sound, and she gets aggressive because she does not feel good and her gut hurts. FOS also caused her coat to become dull and excessive shedding. You may find that Moose has trouble with any food that has high soluble fiber (prebiotics are classified soluble fiber), such as the grain free foods containing tapioca starch.

    I know the other people think the behavior change is coincidence and it is not the food, but I have lived through this and the food is the problem. If you want to look for a food other than Beneful, stay away from anything with probiotics because they will usually have prebiotics.

    #102015 Report Abuse

    anon101
    Member

    http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2009/07/bach-flower-essences-for-animals/ excerpt below, click on link for full article.
    Is It Safe?
    Because Bach flower essences are greatly diluted, they generally contain only water and very small traces of brandy or substances leeched out of the flowers. It is unlikely, then, that they would cause any direct harm. However, because they have no actual effect on physical disease, their use can cause indirect harm if it leads to a delay in appropriate diagnosis and treatment for any underlying illness.

    Rescue Remedy Drops & Spray (copied from All Natural Pet)
    Ingredients – HPUS 5x dilution of Helianthemum nummularium, Clematis vitalba, Impatiens glandulifera, Prunus cerasifera, and Ornithogalum umbellatum.
    Inactive Ingredients – Alcohol

    Rescue Remedy for Pets (copied from All Natural Pet)
    Active Ingredients – HPUS 5x dilution of Helianthemum nummularium, Clematis vitalba, Impatiens glandulifera, Prunus cerasifera, and Ornithogalum umbellatum.

    Inactive Ingredients – 80% Glycerine, 20% Water.

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