High protein and hyperactivity

This thread follows on from the one here in which the poster asked about protein content contributing to hyperactivity. It is a useful subject to discuss but perhaps deserves a more general thread of its own.

The thing about this issue is that the hyperactivity/high protein theory has been around for many a year. Many of us believed it for no better reason than we were advised by more experienced dog owners. We just didn’t question it. Like many so called ‘myths’ there is sometimes the grain of truth, be it ever so small. AFAIK there is no definite proof of hyperactivity due to high protein diet but we do know that all dogs are different in how they react to various dog foods and maybe for some, this sort of product might not suit them.

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence to the effect that high protein does not cause behavioural issues and some dog owners claim that their dogs are actually calmer. My experience is that it makes no difference to behaviour. If anyone has any advice or knowledge of scientific evidence which proves a link to a dog’s behaviour and high protein diet then it would be interesting to read it.

A quick google found this: http://leerburg.com/protein.htm

Interesting. “The study concluded that a reduction in dietary protein is not generally useful in the treatment of behaviour problems, with the possible exception of those with territorial aggression that is the result of fear.” 1996, so not new research.

I’d dig a little deeper, but time I got the Little Cav out for a walk.

My personal experience is that I have seen no difference in my terrier since she has been eating a mostly raw diet. If anything she is a more balanced character these days. That could just be maturity however. ;D

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My experience of high protein raw food is the same as yours Tinyplanets.

I just found this http://www.vetsallnatural.com.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=135&Itemid=152 which makes some interesting references:

Studies performed by Dr Pottenger back in the 1930s, clearly demonstrated marked increase in aggression in cats that were fed on a cooked food diet versus those fed raw food. The cats fed on the cooked meat diet showed not only increased aggression to other cats, but also significantly more aggressive behaviour towards their handlers. This behavioural change was easily reversed when the cats were put back onto a raw meat diet.


It would appear from some basic research that supplying balanced raw meat diets does improve the natural levels of 5- hydroxytryptophan, which is the body is natural precursor to producing serotonin (a neurotransmitter), which has a powerful impact on mood and other behavioural traits.

Haven’t seen any more details of the research referred to though.

I’ve had a speedy look around t’Internet and can’t find any proper research or statistics on the matter. Like humans who have a poor diet, a dog may well be a tad lethargic and lack lustre. Giving it a better diet might increase it’s energy levels so making the owner feel that it has become hyperactive - well, that’s one scenario I suppose.

The next thing I thought about is how does one diagnose hyperactivity? There is no way of measuring it AFAIK but from what I have just read, most people who complain to vets that their dog is hyperactive are actually mistaken. There are so many factors to consider such as genetics, how much exercise the dog is getting and whether it is being over stimulated.

The only thing that does cross my mind is whether the average domestic pooch actually needs very high levels of protein but I am not a nutritionist and stand to be corrected. Anyway, I’ve fed my lot different food over the many years I’ve had dogs and not noticed behavioural differences. Sorry - that’s just anecdotal so it doesn’t add much to the argument one way or the other.

Well I have found this, ‘impact of nutrition on canine behavour’:


Good luck understanding it ;D . Maybe the vets and experts who are all over the internet saying high protein does not affect behaviour so long as it is good quality, ie meat, protein have read it and understood it but life’s too short to try as far as I’m concerned.

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Stan Rawlinson, the Doglistener has a very interesting website and it is full of interesting advice and well worth spending some time on. He has put together an article “The High Protein Myth in Dog Food”. www.doglistener.co.uk/high-protein-myth-regarding-dog-food

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Thank you for the link. I don’t know anything about the author. It’s an interesting article and I have absolutely no argument to make in respect of it’s content. However, I do wish that people who write this sort of thing would reference, and back it up with links to scientific research. Without that it is in danger of straying off into the ‘Old Wives Tale’ of which he speaks in the first paragraph. Having said that, I suppose that many of us are guilty of the same thing.

I’ve tried for ages to find a scientific study either proving or disproving the link. This is the best article https://www.ardengrange.com/hyperactive-pets-and-diet-advice.asp I’ve read.

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I wish my memory was better. I’m sure I vaguely remember my dog who was just over a year being slightly more demanding of attention when I tried her on Eden (5* rated). It had a disasterous effect on her digestive system and gave her the runs. She was miles better as soon as I put her on something else.

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Apologies re going slightly off topic deveolping the alleged solidity output comments on Eden, however, I would just like to add that (despite comments of others elsewhere) faeces solidity can often be re-established if feed amount reduced. Also some dogs take longer to adjust to a change. Silverb19 - I accept you know your dog better than anyone so please dont take my comments as indactive of me dismissing your disclosed negative experience as non diet content related.

Back on topic to the AG link - thanks for sharing. Interesting opinions albeit as indicated by them not exactly scientific re dogs. I seem to remember reading something similar from AG some years ago.

If I fed rubbish I wouldnt be shocked to see some behaviour compromise. I accept there are mixed views but as some feed specific foods to hopefully yield greater energy output it can be argued that if energy input (note I have not cited proteins), is significantly excessive to output then it might have some bearing on behaviour.

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Re - ‘Not scientific’ - there could be a link between little true scientific research into dog food and the way that large companies like Mars and Nestle sponsor and/or fund much of the worldwide research into nutrition.

I was very quickly in direct contact with the people at Eden about the effect their kibble had on my girl. They suggested exactly the same thing - reducing the amount I gave her. This I tried along with one or two other things they suggested to no avail. Also it wasn’t as if I hadn’t given her plenty of opportunity to adjust to it as well as I’d bought a large bag. I spent a long time searching for reviews of the food and found plenty of evidence of other owners who had experienced exactly the same thing with regard to the effect it had on their dogs digestive system. Needless to say, Eden didn’t want to know.

I don’t know the history of your specific case silver, nor how recent when you tried Eden. There are a small number of dogs that seem to have more difficulty adjusting to a higher protein food, and we always give our full support to anyone before, during and after changeover should they need it. I have certainly never given up and we find there are a few simple tweaks that resolve matters with most dogs.

About 2% of dogs are intolerant to chicken so for those we usually suggest a change to one of our other recipes, very occasionally adding a little pumpkin/squash or some tree barks/slippery elm powder for a short while can help things settle.

Despite this there can be a very small number of dogs that still have issues, maybe due to one of the other ingredients.

I’m sorry that you felt that we didn’t want to know, I’m not sure who you dealt with, and that we weren’t able to resolve the problem.

With regard to being “slightly more demanding” we do find a small number of dogs that show short term signs of increased activity levels, which we believe is due to extra energy due to improved nutrition, this is short lived and those owner that have had reason to question this have always come back after a couple of weeks to report that their dogs now have more energy on walks etc but are also calmer and more relaxed during their down time.

We are very fortunate to have a huge number of dog food products to choose from, particularly the ones with top rating such as Eden. From anecdotal evidence (gleaned from reports on the Internet), the symptoms of diarrhoea thought to be due to high quality food is not confined to Eden; I have seen the same thing said of others within this category.

I do not know the reason/s for it but I do know that all dogs are different and IMHO whilst some may thrive on these high protein/fat products, for others a lower amount of protein will suit them better. If an owner has weighed the food correctly, persevered with it and followed the manufacturer’s advice then there is nothing more to be done but change the food if the dog is still not tolerating it. Reducing the quantity is not always practical because you wind up with a dog that is having a minuscule amount each day and is hungry. However, it is not likely that manufacturers will admit to any shortcomings in respect of their products. I’m still not sure that a dog that is lounging about in the house for most of the day needs high protein/fat levels but then I am not a nutritionist so could be entirely wrong.