Does Raw Feeding Cause Aggression in Dogs?

Does Raw Feeding Cause Aggression in Dogs
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A common misconception about feeding a raw diet is that your dog will become a bloodthirsty vampire with an aggressive personality. Some dog lovers are fearful of raw feeding due to this misconception.

What may be surprising though is that it does the opposite. Chewing meat and fresh bones have been shown to release a feel-good chemical called dopamine. Dopamine helps with the production of norepinephrine and serotonin which promote mood, improve sleep, and encourage appetite.

Medical Elements Causing Aggression in Dogs

Although raw feeding alone won’t make a dog hostile, there are additional factors to take into account when discussing aggression and raw diets—or any diet, for that matter.

Medical Conditions

The next step when caring for an aggressive dog is to rule out any underlying medical conditions. Numerous medical conditions, such as persistent pain, might alter a dog’s behavior. Your dog may likely act aggressively if he is in pain in order to grab your attention and let you know that he needs treatment.

raw feeding 101 and food aggression in dogs
Photo by Magda Ehlers on

Injuries, diseases like cancer or arthritis, as well as less serious conditions like an ear infection or dental disease, can all result in pain leading to aggression in dogs.

Additional medical conditions that can cause aggression include the following:

It’s crucial to visit the veterinarian as soon as your dog exhibits signs of aggression in order to rule out any underlying medical conditions. Any competent nutritionist or behaviorist will also request a medical review prior to addressing potential behavioral problems.

Tryptophan Amino Acid Deficiency

For dogs, essential amino acid limitations have been suggested to support healthy biological functions. This amino acid needs to be ingested regularly at the right dosages. This is because the body cannot synthesis tryptophan and cannot store excess tryptophan obtained from food.

Extra calories are stored as fat in the body while extra protein and amino acids are used for energy. Contrary to fat-soluble vitamins and minerals, excess amino acids do not build up in the body.

Diets low in tryptophan have been connected to depression, anxiety, and aggression. This is one of the few circumstances where aggressive behaviors can emerge although it’s not limited to raw feeding only. This applies to any diet

is raw feeding good for dogs

According to the NRC, the guidelines for adult dogs are 0.28g minimum allowance with a 0.35g recommended allowance. 

Recommended guidelines for puppies are 0.45g minimum allowance with a 0.58g recommended allowance.

Foods high in tryptophan include:

  • Eggs
  • Rabbit
  • Beef Liver
  • Elk

The Gut Microbiome and Aggression

Think back to when you were carbo-loading, chowing down on potato chips, chugging soda, and generally eating poorly compared to how you feel when you’re eating nutritious food.

This is especially true if you’ve ever been on a diet or are now following healthy practices. The same is true for our dogs. The gut microbiome has a significant impact on the changes you experience in your body, including increased energy, mental clarity, and a general feeling of health.

Disorders such as anxiety, sadness, and mood swings may occur when the body is unhealthy. Do you feel like being sociable while you’re ill? No is the most likely response. When our dogs (and we) eat well, the gut flora is more balanced, which results in reduced inflammation and hormone levels that are in balance.

Prey Drive

Another widespread misconception is that feeding your dog raw food can improve their prey drive. The urge to pursue and seize prey is known as “prey drive” in dogs. Dogs of all breeds, ages, and sizes can display it. Although it will always be there, a dog’s prey drive is highest when the dog is young.

Once captured, some dogs may or may not eat their prey. But pay attention to the phrases “chase and capture.” The dog is not pursuing or catching their food when being fed raw. They are eating their food the same way a dog would eat processed dog food

However, their prey-drive instinct is a sign of their desire for a food source specific to their species. The fact that this prey drive evolved as a result of the necessity of catching small creatures in order to survive strengthens the case for a species-appropriate diet.


The influence of nutrition on canine behaviour – MUGFORD – 1987 – Journal of Small Animal Practice – Wiley Online Library

The effect of graded concentrations of dietary tryptophan on canine behavior in response to the approach of a familiar or unfamiliar individual

Role of brain dopamine in food reward and reinforcement

Dietary tryptophan supplementation in privately owned mildly anxious dogs – ScienceDirect

Tryptophan requirements in small, medium, and large breed adult dogs using the indicator amino acid oxidation technique1 | Journal of Animal Science | Oxford Academic

Published by Amber Drake

Dr. Drake is an award-winning author and well-known cancer specialist in her field. She is best known for her extensive research on canine cancer prevention and nutrition, her dedication to help dogs live a long, happy life, and for teaching veterinary medicine. As the CEO of Canine Companions Co., the Founder of Drake Dog Cancer Foundation and Academy, and the Co-Founder of Preferable Pups, in addition to being a respected figure in the dog world, she has earned the respect of thousands of dog lovers worldwide.

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