We have many enquiries from dog
owners who are concerned about possible links between
nutrition and hyperactivity. There has been much debate on
this subject in recent years, and as a part of our commitment to
educating pet owners in how to provide the best possible
nutrition, we have devised this fact sheet to help to answer
some of the questions we are commonly asked, and to dispel the
myths that are widely circulated regarding this subject.
question our nutritionists are most frequently asked is ‘Do
Arden Grange manufacture a low protein diet, as a high protein
diet causes hyperactivity?’
First and foremost, true
hyperactivity (or hyperkinesis as it is also known) is a
relatively rare condition in dogs. Dogs suffering from this
condition will usually exhibit periods of frenetic behaviour
which only ceases when they are too exhausted to continue. It
can be difficult to differentiate between an affected dog and
one who is simply unruly. Hyperactivity in dogs has numerous
potential motivators (including genetic temperament
predispositions), but a link between high levels of protein
in a dog’s diet and true hyperactivity has yet to be proven.
There are several possible
reasons behind the fallacies surrounding protein and
You Are What
You Eat! - Some
owners notice changes in their dog’s behaviour when diet is
changed. Human beings that eat poor diets are likely to be
lethargic, and much the same can be applied to our canine
friends. A dog previously fed a poor quality diet may become
more energetic when a super premium pet food such as Arden
Grange is consumed. This is because Arden Grange diets contain
extremely high quality and digestible ingredients in order to
provide optimal nutrition. Active dogs are far more likely
to maintain a healthy weight than their couch potato
counterparts and this vitality and exuberance should not be
confused with hyperactivity. Inactive dogs are at risk from
obesity and its associated health risks, including diabetes
mellitus, degenerative joint disease and circulatory problems.
Wouldn’t you rather share walks with a happy, healthy dog with a
zest for life than time in the vet’s consulting room?
Dietary intolerance should not be confused with a food allergy.
A true food allergy is an immune mediated response to a protein
source, and usually manifests in skin and / or digestive
disorders. Whilst true food allergies are rare, intolerance
to certain ingredients in a pet food may contribute to a dog
exhibiting ‘hyperactive behaviour’. Food intolerance denotes
an abnormal response to a food, which can result from an
inability to digest an ingredient, or from pharmacological,
metabolic or toxic reactions. Certain antioxidants /
preservatives have been proven to contribute to learning
difficulties and hyperactivity in humans. All Arden Grange
pet foods are free from artificial colourings and flavourings,
and only safe, natural preservatives (vitamin E and rosemary)
Protein as an
Energy Source - It
is possible that protein has been blamed for hyperactivity since
if consumed in excess, it can be used as an energy source. This
only occurs however if an animal is in zero energy balance (i.e.
it is consuming less energy than it is expending). If an animal
consumes more energy than is expended, then the excess protein
is metabolised to fat for energy storage in the body. In
neither of these cases would the use of protein as an energy
source cause excess energy / signs of apparent hyperactivity,
since the protein is only utilised when the primary and
secondary energy sources (carbohydrates and fat respectively)
are depleted. In addition, all cats and dogs have the
ability to metabolise excess protein which results in the
production of urea and its excretion in the urine, and there
is no conclusive evidence that protein intake contributes to the
development of kidney dysfunction in healthy animals. Most
of the studies from which evidence has previously been used were
of rats and mice – which have a different digestion to that of
Dietary Protein & Links to Aggression
– Some inconclusive scientific studies have shown tenuous links
between high ammonia concentrations in the blood and aggression.
Ammonia is a nitrogen-containing waste product of protein
metabolism, but in normal animals, the urogenital system will
ensure that any waste is safely excreted from the body.
Furthermore, animals fed a very high quality, digestible,
concentrated protein source (as in Arden Grange diets) that is
easily and efficiently metabolised are less likely to encounter
problems than animals fed low quality, restricted rations.
Conversely, some amino acid concentrations (e.g. Tryptophan) may
even be helpful in managing dogs (alongside behavioural therapy)
with dominance / territorial aggression. Arden Grange diets
are all supplemented with Tryptophan.
Diet does have an important
part to play in canine behaviour. A hungry dog may engage in
‘antisocial behaviours’ such as coprophagia (eating faeces),
scavenging and exhibiting competitive behaviour towards other
animals than may be present at feeding times.
The mechanical effects of
timing and frequency of feeding, and the effects of full and
empty stomachs on mood and activity levels affect dogs, just as
they do us. Blood glucose levels and seratonin uptake may have a
strong influence on mood and behaviour. In some cases,
frustration with social or environmental circumstances are
mistaken for hyperactivity.
Arden Grange do not
manufacture a low protein diet, because there are no biochemical
or nutritional factors to support this.
Protein is an essential nutrient that serves numerous functions
in the body. Dietary proteins are broken down to form amino
acids which support the body’s structural and functional demands
(including muscle growth, tissue repair and immune function).
Many dog owners will make a pet
food choice basing their judgement on the protein percentage on
the packaging. Certainly, a fully grown dog has a lower
nutritional requirement for protein than a growing puppy, and
our formulations take this into account. What is important is
not a percentage figure, but the actual amount of protein in
grams per day that a dog consumes. You will find that in many
cases, an alternative brand showing a lower protein percentage,
will yield a higher actual protein intake since the feeding
guide often will recommend a higher daily food allowance. This
is especially true in diets that have a high proportion of
carbohydrates (usually wheat or rice will be the primary
ingredient). Arden Grange diets have been manufactured to
provide the very best possible nutrition for our canine and
feline friends, and we have not succumbed to marketing ploys
that make our products appear to follow the current nutritional
Arden Grange diets are produced
in accordance with the European Pet Food Industry (Fediaf) Code
of Practice for the Manufacture of Safe Pet Food. A dog’s
protein requirements varies according to life stage, clinical
health and activity level and every one of our products has been
carefully developed to take each of these factors into account.
Make sure you
feed your dog the correct daily allowance for his or her weight,
ensuring energy intake does not exceed that required.
Feed a diet that
is suitable for the age and activity level of your dog.
quality ingredients are fed, and that these are easily
digestible and efficiently metabolised.
that often provoke food allergies (wheat gluten, soya, dairy
products and beef).
colourings, flavourings and preservatives.
Ensure that your
dog leads an interesting, stimulating life to avoid behavioural
problems associated with frustration.
If you are
experiencing behavioural difficulties with your dog, please
consult your veterinary surgeon to rule out any possible
clinical cause for the problem. A qualified pet behaviourist
will also be able to give you constructive help in resolving any
Arden Grange Pet Foods – Nutrition without Compromise