People often blame sugar for bad behaviour in children. But while some studies show a relationship between sugar, aggression and cognitive ability, many don’t, and when it comes to animals, although most studies show that those fed sugar performed more poorly in behavioural and cognitive tasks than those not fed any, there’s still not enough evidence to claim a definite link. However, feeding pets sugary treats is a bad idea regardless, as the empty calories can lead to obesity and dental problems.
Studies are more definitive when it comes to supplements. One, for example, examined the effect of protein levels and the amino acid L-tryptophan on aggression and hyperactivity in dogs. It showed no effect on hyperactivity, but aggression was decreased. So if your dog is becoming too boisterous, a veterinary supplement containing L-tryptophan could possibly help to calm him down.
Stress in cats can cause feline idiopathic cysisitis (FIC), where the cat may have blood in the urine and urinate more frequently. If a vet diagnosis FIC, they may recommend a supplement containing the milk protein derivative alpha-casozepine, and L-tryptophan. This can help her to feel more relaxed, decreasing stress and improving the signs of FIC.
It’s an age thing
Studies of dogs and cats – and humans, too – have shown that diet can affect the signs of senile dementia, such as memory loss and confusion. Diets with added antioxidants, fish oils containing omega 3 fatty acids, and decreased saturated fats show an improvement in both dogs and cats. The “trainability” of puppies is also improved with added beneficial oils. However, as with children, kind and consistent teaching is vital, and a dual approach, looking at both diet and training, will make the most impact in improving behaviour, and always ask your vet for advice before feeding any supplements to your pets.