How protein can impact behavior

I noticed that two of my clients — belonging to the Italian Greyhound family — had become more aggressive with other dogs.  These normally affectionate pups even started barking at people on the street … which which something new.

For some dogs with behavioral problems, elevated protein levels can increase territorial aggression.

When Dr. Nick Dodman, Director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University Vet School, performed a blind study — where dogs were given a diet of high protein (32 percent), medium protein (25 percent) and low protein (17 percent) — participants were asked to keep a log about their dog’s behavior.

The results were striking.  There was almost a linear correlation between territorial aggression and high protein levels. Dodman says that 17 percent is the minimum necessary for good health.

I like to check in with my clients. So when I noticed this significant behavioral change, we had a long discussion. They, too, noticed a difference in their dogs’ behavior and were anxious to modify it. They had previously consulted with Dr. Dodman, so we all agreed that a new diet (one with less protein) would be beneficial.

In a few weeks time, I think we’ll see a difference. And hopefully, the dogs will be more relaxed on their walks. Because that’s what it’s all about.

* The Well-Adjusted Dog by Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman



About Cambridge Canines Pet Sitting Service

I'm a Cambridge resident who has written about feline behavior and body language for WebMD and Catnip, the Tufts Veterinary School newsletter. In a parallel universe, I also write about healthcare and have won awards for news reporting. A passion for animals led me to start my own pet sitting business in 2004. While the information in my posts has been researched, it is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary-related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly.
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