Behavioural effects of an imbalanced diet

A great deal of research has gone into understanding the dietary requirements of our pets. The top reference of this is the National Research Council’s Journal which houses all research conducted in reference tables to guide nutritionists. These findings form the basis of minimum requirements for all registered pet foods, which are outlined and defined within Act 36 of 1947. Only foods that are found to comply with these requirements are issued a ‘V’ number by the Registrar. These foods can be registered as  “complete”, whichmeans that they do not need to be supplemented with other foods – by feeding your pet the correct quantity (as per the guide on the packaging) you can be sure that your pet is getting all the nutrition that he requires on a daily basis.

When adding other titbits to your pet’s diet you should consider the overall effect, not only to the quantity of food that they are ingesting, but also to the proportions of different food groups, as too much (or too little) of one of the major food groups will not only affect their overall health but can also affect their behaviour.

Feeding too many biscuit treats, for example, increases the amount of refined carbohydrates ingested and can result in obesity or diabetes that can result in low tolerance levels, reduced mobility or even neurological disorders like depression. Abnormal behaviour noticed after high fat meals / snacks can be a result of painful indigestion. If adding very high protein snacks / treats to your pet’s daily diet your pet may begin to excrete calcium, which can result in feelings of pain, brittle / weak bones, fluid imbalances and a depletion of minerals. Behaviourally this may manifest as a loss of housetraining or even aggression – a natural reaction to a pet that is in pain. With this in mind, dish out treats as they were intended – as a motivator, reward or treat.

Also consider the number of times your pet is fed during the day – maintaining blood sugar levels with steadier energy release can assist with behavioural issues caused by hypoglycemia. This can be achieved by feeding two meals a day instead of just one. Diet plays a large role in maintaining your pet’s mood state, and there’s a lot more to consider than just input versus output. Your best bet for giving your pet the best nutrition you can afford is to feed a PFI member brand, as these brands have publicly committed to upholding safe, quality pet nutrition. Always exercise restraint when it comes to giving your pet extra treats and scraps and remember that suitable treats and snacks are also manufactured by PFI member brands that support the principles of this association.

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