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John Burns' Blog

Follow Up to Veterinary Record Letter

Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I explained in an earlier blog post that I recently wrote a letter to The Veterinary Record in response to a paper they published which looked at whether diet could affect dog behaviour. Since my last post, the journal have published the letter. As you require a subscription to gain access, I have attached the letter below: 

16 January 2017

The Editor

The Veterinary Record

Dear Sir,

Diet and Dog Behaviour

The articles by Verstegen and Sechi et al. (VR vol. 180, pp 16-18) highlight the potential role of diet in altering dog behaviour.  This is a welcome development; demonstrating that neurotransmitters are affected by diet will give scientific backing to the widespread perception and anecdotal evidence that dog behaviour can be altered by diet.  However, the trial by Sechi et al. compared the use of organic-type food and nutraceutical supplementation against a low-quality control commercial diet.  That makes two step changes.  It would be useful to compare different diets but without nutraceutical supplementation.  For many years I have been advocating high-quality whole grain-based diets, but non-organic and without nutraceuticals as a means of improving behaviour.  This is an approach which appears to be effective.

Another consideration is the effect of over-nutrition on health, including mental health and behaviour.  Subjectively, there is much anecdotal evidence that excessive energy intake causes hyperactivity and excessive vocalisation. This feeding trial showed a reduction in reactive oxygen metabolites (free radicals) as compared to the control diet.  These metabolites are the product of the normal metabolic process and excess energy intake will increase their production. Hence the importance of controlling the energy intake, especially in the form of fat and protein which result in more toxic metabolites than carbohydrate.

Yours sincerely,

John Burns BVMS MRCVS

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