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Diet for Excitable Dog

Our customer asked:

I have been having some minor issues with my young dog being a bit over-excitable. My dog trainer has given me loads of useful advice, and also suggested trying her on a diet to a lower protein content as this can affect some dogs. I usually order Hills Vet Essentials from you, which is 23% protein. Could you recommend something of a similar quality but with around 20% protein? (Not James Wellbeloved, because the dog doesn't like it - and the look of disappointment on a greedy dog's face is not a happy sight to see...).

Our reply:

I am afraid I do not really agree with lowering the protein content. I think Hills and others succeed with quite a low protein level anyway. There is a move away from these diets towards higher protein ones in fact, which would be more natural for a carnivore. If you do want to try this, then the best thing to do would be to try one of the "senior" or "mature" diets. For instance, "Hills Senior Light Chicken" is 18.4% protein. I am sure it would do no harm for a period of time, but longer term it might not be good for a younger and very active dog. You could mix the two diets if you wish to adjust the overall balance.

The idea that excitable dogs will calm down if fed a lower protein diet is a widely promoted straw to clutch at. I do not think it really helps anyway. Many (very good) dog trainers will mention it as something to try, but I do not think it works, other than by providing a poor quality diet which leaves the dog slightly "below-par".

Best of luck with your dog whatever you do. Some dogs are difficult at times and I sympathise with the problem. Ideally training and exercise will produce a more manageable beast, but it is not always that easy!

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Sunday 20th January 2013