Nutrition tips to boost mental health and well-being of your pet buddy - Hindustan Times
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Nutrition tips to boost mental health and well-being of your pet buddy

By, New Delhi
Mar 28, 2024 02:03 PM IST

Moving from packaged to home-made nutritious meals can transform your pet's behaviour and make them more loving and calm. Here're nutrition tips for your pet.

Want a well-behaved pooch? Just feed them right and a gentle behaviour will follow. The recent research on dogs has demonstrated the influence of foods on the behaviour of your animal companion. Your dog's mental health could be linked to the food they eat due to the existence of what is known as the gut brain axis. While nutritious meals aid in secretion of hormones and neurotransmitters that boost the mood of your furball, eating unhealthy and poor-quality diet, high in processed ingredients and artificial additives, can negatively impact the gut microbiome. (Also read | Dogs understand the meaning of some words like humans, create mental images: Study)

Pet nutrition: A healthy and diverse microbiome can boost their mental health and help them become happier and more peaceful.(Freepik)
Pet nutrition: A healthy and diverse microbiome can boost their mental health and help them become happier and more peaceful.(Freepik)

It seems moving from packaged to home-made nutritious meals can transform your pet's behaviour and make them more loving and calm. A healthy and diverse microbiome can boost their mental health and help them become happier and more peaceful.

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Explaining the link between food and behaviour, pet Nutritionist, Anjali Kalachand shares: "there has been more research done in the recent years on dogs and the influence the food they consume has on their behaviour. This is also known as the gut brain axis. While stress can affect gut motility in dogs, the gut is also responsible for producing hormones and neurotransmitters that affect behaviour, like the hormone serotonin, known as happy hormone, which is produced in the gut."

Secret to happy and healthy dogs

Dogs that are fresh fed, and that eat a variety of meats, veggies and fruits, have a more diverse microbiome and because the food is fresh and not processed, this allows for better nutritional absorption which in turn means the dogs are not only healthier, but also calmer, happier and better behaved.

"Best foods that are species appropriate and bio available are meats, healthy fats, veggies and fruits in small amounts. While worst foods for their mental health is processed foods with fillers like large amounts of wheat, soy, rice and corn to name a few. And meat products that are not high quality meat but rather leftover bits from the human industry," adds Kalachand.

Agrees Dog Trainer and Behaviourist, Janhavi Kamani, who further explains that the studies in recent years have linked nutrition to behaviour of domestic dogs and she has seen aggressive dogs mellowing down into calmer beings with the right nutrition. (Also read: Dry food diets to dental chews, expert tips to protect your dog's oral health)

"In my experience I have come across dogs that have displayed aggression around food which was resolved by the dog getting a more nutritious meal - moving from packaged food to fresh cooked food. Also dogs and puppies that scavenge relentlessly on walks stopped this behaviour once the diet was adjusted to include lacking nutrients," she says.

How we feed our dogs also has an impact on their behaviour

"One type of effective enrichment for many animal species is ‘feeding enrichment’. This can vary from scattering food in the enclosure to hiding food in interactive puzzle-feeders (e.g. Markowitz, 1982, Newberry, 1995, Young, 1997). Typically, animals fed in captivity do not have the potential to display appetitive behaviours that might otherwise be rewarding to them (e.g. Spruijt et al., 2001, Berridge, 2004). Food enrichment is known to change the behavioural repertoire of captive animals in many ways. It can, for instance, increase the display of appetitive feeding behaviour, result in less inactivity and reduce abnormal behaviours, such as stereotypies (Hayes, 1990, Forthman et al., 1992, Stepherdson et al., 1993, Ings et al., 1996, O’Connor, 2000, Swaisgood et al., 2001, Shyne, 2006)," says Kamani.

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