Objective: To evaluate the effect of high- and low-protein diets with or without tryptophan supplementation on behavior of dogs with dominance aggression, territorial aggression, and hyperactivity.
Design: Prospective crossover study.
Animals: 11 dogs with dominance aggression, 11 dogs with territorial aggression, and 11 dogs with hyperactivity.
Procedure: In each group, 4 diets were fed for 1 weeks each in random order with a transition period of not < 3 days between each diet. Two diets had low protein content (approximately 18%), and 2 diets had high protein content (approximately 30%). Two of the diets (1 low-protein and 1 high-protein) were supplemented with tryptophan. Owners scored their dog's behavior daily by use of customized behavioral score sheets. Mean weekly values of 5 behavioral measures and serum concentrations of serotonin and tryptophan were determined at the end of each dietary period.
Results: For dominance aggression, behavioral scores were highest in dogs fed unsupplemented high-protein rations. For territorial aggression, [corrected] tryptophan-supplemented low-protein diets were associated with significantly lower behavioral scores than low-protein diets without tryptophan supplements.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: For dogs with dominance aggression, the addition of tryptophan to high-protein diets or change to a low-protein diet may reduce aggression. For dogs with territorial aggression, tryptophan supplementation of a low-protein diet may be helpful in reducing aggression.