Can a Dog’s Diet Affect Behaviour?


It is a well established fact that food can affect people’s health and well being. The association between diet mental health and behaviour has been less documented. However, it is an emerging subject for more serious research. In this article we look at diet and canine behaviour and whether certain foods can affect a dog’s mental function.

As far back as medieval times, people believed that diet had an impact on mood.  Depression, or low mood, for example, could be remedied by eating dates, or elder flowers.

Currently there is not enough academic research to categorically state that diet affects behaviour. However, Holidays4Dogs suspects there may be something in this.

Food for the brain.

The charitable organisation, Food and Behaviour Research (FAB), found correlations between food and human behaviour. Diet is important for physical health, but also for mental development and efficient functioning of the brain. Therefore, all animals require appropriate foods to ensure the optimal functioning of the body, and the brain, in order to survive.

Sugar rush.

We all know when our children eat too many sugary sweets, or fizzy drinks, it can impact on their behaviour.  Likewise, over consumption of food saturated in trans and omega 6 fatty acids, (such as fast food); can cause anxiety and depression in both human and animal research.

Despite this knowledge, scientific examination of the relationship between diet and behaviour is still in its infancy – for humans, as well as animals. The main focus of diet is the creation of optimum physical health. In dogs and humans, this refers to dietary requirements at particular stages of life.

Unfortunately, as we have found, scientific research into the relationship between canine diet and behaviour is disappointing in quantity.


Changing your dog’s diet won’t necessarily cure any behaviour issues he might be having; but a suitable adjustment to the type of food he is eating – alongside training sessions – may well produce more marked improvements than each isolated approach.