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How Your Dog’s Food Affects His Mood Nutrition has an enormous impact on the health of our pets. But have you considered how it may affect their behavior as well? Here are three ways diet can directly impact your pet’s behavior 1. FEEDING TIMES It’s no longer considered standard regimen to feed your pet once a day or leave food out all day — also known as free-feeding — unless ecommended by your veterinarian due to a medical reason. We recommend asking your veterinarian if feeding your adult dog 2-3 times per day would be better for his or her regimen. Often combining exercise with slight feeding routine adjustments can help improve the overall demeanor of a dog. 2. PET FOOD INGREDIENTS Pet food ingredients can also affect your pet’s behavior in various ways. Take the fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is sometimes added to puppy and kitten food. DHA has been shown to increase mental acuity in puppies and kittens. In fact, according to the results of some studies puppies eating dog food which contain DHA have been found to be more trainable. Certain antioxidants are also considered a great “brain food” for senior dogs and cats. For example, a series of studies conducted on dogs1 found that older dogs provided with an antioxidant-enriched diet were able to learn complex tasks with more success than those on a control diet. This, researchers hypothesized, was consistent with the assumption that oxidative damage contributes to brain aging in dogs. Another study2 that used an antioxidant-enriched diet found that older dogs (≥7) were less likely to suffer from age-related behavioral changes associated with cognitive decline, such as excessive licking and patterned pacing. Dogs consuming the antioxidant-enriched diet were also able to recognize their family members and other animals more easily than the control group, as well as display greater attributes of agility. 3. UNBALANCED DIET Health issues that may stem from feeding your pet a poorly balanced diet can lead to a whole host of other behavioral issues you normally wouldn’t encounter. For example, a dog or cat that is suffering from a urinary tract disorder brought on by diet may be unusually irritable and stressed from the pain and discomfort caused by the urinary condition. “The body is a very complex organic place where biochemical reactions are going on. In fact, dogs and cats require more than 50 key nutrients — and each much be carefully balanced in your pet’s food.