Effect of dietary protein content on behavior in dogs

Nicholas H. Dodman From the Department of Surgery, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536 (Dodman); the Departments of Pharmacology (Shuster) and Community Health (Rand), School of Medicine, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111; the Department of Physiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 (Reisner, Houpt); the Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1 (Luescher); and the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, Leicestershire, England LE14 4RT (Robinson).

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Ilana Reisner From the Department of Surgery, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536 (Dodman); the Departments of Pharmacology (Shuster) and Community Health (Rand), School of Medicine, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111; the Department of Physiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 (Reisner, Houpt); the Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1 (Luescher); and the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, Leicestershire, England LE14 4RT (Robinson).

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Louis Shuster From the Department of Surgery, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536 (Dodman); the Departments of Pharmacology (Shuster) and Community Health (Rand), School of Medicine, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111; the Department of Physiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 (Reisner, Houpt); the Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1 (Luescher); and the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, Leicestershire, England LE14 4RT (Robinson).

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William Rand From the Department of Surgery, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536 (Dodman); the Departments of Pharmacology (Shuster) and Community Health (Rand), School of Medicine, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111; the Department of Physiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 (Reisner, Houpt); the Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1 (Luescher); and the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, Leicestershire, England LE14 4RT (Robinson).

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U. Andrew Luescher From the Department of Surgery, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536 (Dodman); the Departments of Pharmacology (Shuster) and Community Health (Rand), School of Medicine, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111; the Department of Physiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 (Reisner, Houpt); the Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1 (Luescher); and the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, Leicestershire, England LE14 4RT (Robinson).

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Ian Robinson From the Department of Surgery, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536 (Dodman); the Departments of Pharmacology (Shuster) and Community Health (Rand), School of Medicine, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111; the Department of Physiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 (Reisner, Houpt); the Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1 (Luescher); and the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, Leicestershire, England LE14 4RT (Robinson).

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Katherine A. Houpt From the Department of Surgery, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536 (Dodman); the Departments of Pharmacology (Shuster) and Community Health (Rand), School of Medicine, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111; the Department of Physiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 (Reisner, Houpt); the Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1 (Luescher); and the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, Leicestershire, England LE14 4RT (Robinson).

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Objective—

To determine the effect that feeding diets containing a low (17%), medium (25%), or high (32%) protein content would have on behavior in dogs.

Design—

Prospective, controlled study.

Animals—

12 dogs with dominance aggression, 12 dogs with hyperactivity, 12 dogs with territorial aggression, and 14 control dogs without behavioral problems.

Procedure—

Dogs were fed each of the diets for a 2-week period, and owners were instructed to score their dogs' behavior on a daily basis.

Results—

Behavior of the dogs with dominance aggression, dogs with hyperactivity, and control dogs was unchanged by the dietary manipulations. Territorial aggression was significantly reduced when dogs were fed the low- or medium-protein diet, compared with territorial aggression when fed the high-protein diet. Post hoc analysis indicated that this effect was attributable to a marked reduction in aggression in a subset of the group (n = 7) in which territorial aggression was a result of fear.

Clinical Implications—

Results of this study suggest that a reduction in dietary protein content is not generally useful in the treatment of behavior problems in dogs, but may be appropriate in dogs with territorial aggression that is a result of fear. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1996;208:376-379)

Objective—

To determine the effect that feeding diets containing a low (17%), medium (25%), or high (32%) protein content would have on behavior in dogs.

Design—

Prospective, controlled study.

Animals—

12 dogs with dominance aggression, 12 dogs with hyperactivity, 12 dogs with territorial aggression, and 14 control dogs without behavioral problems.

Procedure—

Dogs were fed each of the diets for a 2-week period, and owners were instructed to score their dogs' behavior on a daily basis.

Results—

Behavior of the dogs with dominance aggression, dogs with hyperactivity, and control dogs was unchanged by the dietary manipulations. Territorial aggression was significantly reduced when dogs were fed the low- or medium-protein diet, compared with territorial aggression when fed the high-protein diet. Post hoc analysis indicated that this effect was attributable to a marked reduction in aggression in a subset of the group (n = 7) in which territorial aggression was a result of fear.

Clinical Implications—

Results of this study suggest that a reduction in dietary protein content is not generally useful in the treatment of behavior problems in dogs, but may be appropriate in dogs with territorial aggression that is a result of fear. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1996;208:376-379)

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