This study involved 69 dogs (38 males and 31 females), of different breeds, with behavioural disorders related to anxiety and chronic stress. The objectives were, in a controlled study, to evaluate for the first time the oxidative stress and neuroendocrine parameters in dogs with behavioural problems, administered a specific nutraceutical-based diet.
The researchers noted that the biological effects of oxidative stress are often related to the production of free radicals, rapidly reacting with other molecules, and triggering the oxidation process. Free radicals are physiologically produced in cells and released during inﬂammatory processes. They can also be generated by drug metabolism, following exposure to environmental pollutants and when fear and anxiety-related behaviours are present. Once homeostasis is compromised, a progressive oxidation of biological substrates including lipids, DNA and proteins occurs, followed by the production of reactive oxygen metabolites. As a consequence, this cascade mechanism progressively increases the biological damage.
What they found
This study demonstrated the positive effects of a nutraceutical diet on neuroendocrine parameters associated with stress, anxiety, aggression and numerous behavioural disorders. The researchers explain that normal behaviour is characterised by a stable neurotransmitter and hormone balance; however, it is easily affected by stress, anxiety or any behavioural disorders. Low serotonin plasma concentrations have been associated with aggressive behaviour and impulsivity, deﬁned as an abnormal over-reactivity to normal stimuli, has been usually associated with reduced monoaminergic (dopamine and serotonin) circulating levels.
In this study, serotonin and dopamine, used as behavioural markers, significantly increased while cortisol and norepinephrine, used as stress markers, decreased: all returning to values expected in normal animals demonstrating the positive and beneficial effects of the nutraceutical diet on overall homeostasis balance.
Other parts of this diet may be responsible for the positive and significant observations made in the study including L-tryptophan known to affect general mood and behaviour. Similarly, cortisol reduction is also observed after administration of L-theanine; it’s known to have beneﬁcial clinical effects in stress and anxiety management.
Sechi S, Di Cerbo A, Canello S, et al. Effects in dogs with behavioural disorders of a commercial nutraceutical diet on stress and neuroendocrine parameters. Vet Rec. 2017;180(1):18. doi:10.1136/vr.103865