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A hyper dog

Is a Special Diet Necessary for Hyperactive Dogs?

Hyperactivity in dogs is a subject that often leaves pet owners scratching their heads. While most of us associate hyperactivity with high energy levels, the underlying reasons can be more complex. This article explores whether a special diet is necessary to manage hyperactivity in dogs and what such a diet might entail.


Understanding Hyperactivity

Firstly, it's important to distinguish between an energetic dog and a genuinely hyperactive one.

What is Hyperactivity?

  • Clinical Hyperactivity: A diagnosed condition characterised by extreme restlessness, impulsivity, and a short attention span.
  • Perceived Hyperactivity: Often mistaken for clinical hyperactivity, but is usually just high energy.

Table: Hyperactivity vs High Energy

Behaviour Traits


High Energy

Attention Span Short Normal
Impulse Control Poor Moderate to Good
Response to Training Limited Good


Role of Diet

Diet can play a significant role in a dog's behaviour, including levels of activity and restlessness.

How Diet Affects Behaviour:

  • Blood Sugar Levels: Foods that spike blood sugar can cause bursts of energy.
  • Nutrient Imbalance: Lack of certain nutrients can impact a dog's neurological function.

Importance of Balanced Diet:

  • Consistent Energy: Slow-release carbohydrates can provide sustained energy.
  • Brain Health: Certain nutrients can support cognitive function.

Nutrients to Focus On

If you've determined that your dog is indeed hyperactive, certain nutrients can help manage the condition.

Key Nutrients:

  • Complex Carbohydrates: Such as whole grains, for slow energy release.
  • Protein: High-quality sources like chicken or fish.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Known to improve brain function.

Table: Nutrient Sources and Benefits




Complex Carbohydrates Brown rice, quinoa Slow energy release
Protein Chicken, fish Essential for muscle development
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Fish oil, flaxseeds Supports cognitive function


Avoiding Stimulants

Certain food items act as stimulants and can exacerbate hyperactivity.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Sugar: Can cause a rapid increase in energy, followed by a crash.
  • Caffeine: Found in chocolate, which is toxic to dogs.
  • Artificial Additives: Such as colours and preservatives.

Table: Stimulants to Avoid


Found in

Effect on Dogs

Sugar Sweets, some processed foods Rapid energy spike and crash
Caffeine Chocolate, tea, coffee Toxic, can lead to restlessness
Artificial Additives Many commercial dog foods Unknown long-term effects



Consulting a Behaviourist

While diet plays a role, it's often beneficial to consult a professional behaviourist for a holistic approach.

Why Consult a Behaviourist?

  • Expert Assessment: To determine if your dog is truly hyperactive or just high-energy.
  • Dietary Recommendations: Tailored advice on dietary changes.
  • Training Techniques: To manage behaviour effectively.


Q: Can I use medication to control my dog's hyperactivity?
A: Medication is usually a last resort and should only be used under veterinary supervision.

Q: How quickly can I expect to see changes after altering my dog’s diet?
A: It can take several weeks to observe any significant changes in behaviour.

Q: Is exercise a good alternative to manage hyperactivity?
A: Exercise is essential but may not be sufficient to manage clinical hyperactivity.



Hyperactivity in dogs can be a challenging issue to manage. While diet plays a significant role in a dog's overall behaviour, it's crucial to consult a professional for a comprehensive treatment plan. Focusing on specific nutrients while avoiding stimulants can contribute to managing hyperactivity, but it should be part of a holistic approach that includes behavioural training and possibly medical intervention.

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