If you’ve ever felt lazy after eating a big meal, or hyperactive following a sugary treat, then you have an idea of how what we eat can affect our behavior. The same applies to dogs. In fact, scientists now believe it’s possible to change the neurological and physical aspects of a dog’s brain, thus directly affecting his behavior and intelligence, through nutrition.
Good nutrition vital to puppies
The best evidence that nutrition may play a critical role in brain function and behavior comes from studies conducted at the University of Toronto by a team of researchers and behavioral neurologist, Norton Milgram.These studies showed that gross development of the canine brain is extremely rapid during the first four weeks after birth, then slows considerably until the pup reaches adulthood. “Inclusion of fish oil rich in Omega 3 fatty acids in maternal foods has been shown to increase learning ability and ERG-assessed retinal function in growing puppies,” says Dr. Milgram. Feeding fish oil rich in DHA improves how quickly a puppy responds to training, and also enhances his cognitive development.
Linolenic (Omega 3) and linoleic (Omega 6) fatty acids play an important part in a dog’s diet. Dogs require both, but fat sources differ greatly in their concentrated amounts of Omegas 3 and 6. Both continue to be a major focus of study when it comes to behavior and nutrition. Omega 3 is found in high levels in fish oils. It is also found in flaxseed, what germ, canola and soybean oils.
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