Diet and the Brain - Part 2
I want to continue the discussion on a dog’s diet and their brain with discussing a big piece here, dog aggression. Dog aggression is the biggest reason so many dogs are surrendered each year. I know this is a not what one always wants to hear but it is true and what if with better knowledge about something as simple as diet we can help fix this problem.
So let’s start with the basics and I won’t get so stuck in the science of this all. Proteins are the building blocks of the body, we all learn this in Bio 101, right? Dogs are carnivores and carnivores require a diet of mainly meat, another thing we learn back in our early school days. Some of these proteins are the key ingredients for very important neurotransmitters. The one I am going to talk about specifically is Serotonin.
What happens when humans are depressed? They are generally given a medication that boosts the serotonin levels in the brain right? Well we are seeing low serotonin levels in our dogs, dogs who are experiencing; mood swings, depression, anxiety, and the big one aggression. Now these mood swings and anxiety can also lead to the dogs becoming aggressive. To go into this just a touch further a study was done at a research university in Spain on 80 dogs who were aggressive towards humans and those dogs had an average level of 100 units less of serotonin than those who were not showing these symptoms.
So, what can we do with the dogs diet you might be asking? Well the amino acid tryptophan, you know the one that sends us all into a couch coma after Thanksgiving is converted into the hormone Serotonin. Foods that are high in protein, iron and vitamin B6 all contain higher levels of tryptophan. If a dog is receiving a healthy and balanced diet of what they are intended to eat, meat, fats, healthy fruits and veggies they will be fueling their bodies properly to maintain this process.