The Role of Nutrition When Rehabilitating a Neglected Dog

By Langley Cornwell

It’s an obvious and sad fact that millions of homeless dogs suffer from malnutrition.

Neglected dogs often do not get enough food. When they do get food, it’s usually lacking in basic nutrients. Therefore, their inconsistent food source coupled with unreliable nourishment leads to malnutrition. Canine malnutrition is serious and, for rescue dogs, it’s a way of life due to their incomplete and unbalanced diet.

The Dog Channel outlines the price of poor canine nutrition in helpful detail. It’s clear that without a proper diet, dogs can suffer multiple physical and behavioral problems including allergies, kidney problems, bone problems, skin and coat complications and aggression.

Sure, nutrition-related problems can affect any dog regardless of background, size, or breed. But it’s seen most commonly in neglected dogs. And when it comes to rescuing a homeless animal, sound canine nutrition plays a large role in rehabilitating a previously unloved animal.

Signs of aggression caused by poor nutrition

If a dog has been eating a low-quality diet, there are several reasons he may act in an aggressive manner. One reason is a physical reaction; a dog that experiences pain or illness tends to act hostile if he is in severe discomfort. If an ailment causes a dog pain when he’s touched, he will act inappropriately. The Natural Dog Health Remedies website indicates that another reason a dog may show aggression is because he is not getting the proper nutrition required for his brain to function correctly, so his actions and reactions are unpredictable.

Common warnings of canine aggression brought on by lack of good nutrition include growling, snapping or snarling when someone approaches, during a grooming session or simply when the dog is being petted. Excessive and inappropriate barking also indicates aggression. Likewise, it’s inappropriate for a dog to act overly protective of his territory, food, or toys. And of course, the most obvious signs of aggression include chasing other animals and chasing people, especially when growling and showing teeth.

What to do for a dog suffering from nutrition-related issues

The rehabilitation process begins with providing for your dog’s basic needs – shelter, water and food. Good nutrition is important; make sure you choose a dog food that is balanced, wholesome and nutritious. CANIDAE Natural Pet Food is an ideal choice. Once you start with a healthy dog food regimen, stay with the same food. Switching between types of foods can cause stomach and digestive problems for your pet. Also make sure there is clean water available at all times.

Additional considerations when rehabilitating a neglected dog

A rescue dog should have a safe place to retreat to when things get overwhelming or when he craves quiet time. A crate or similar structure will provide a secure haven. It’s also important to be consistent during the rehabilitation process and beyond. Before arriving at your home, the neglected animal was probably left to fend for himself. As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to set ground rules for the family and ensure everyone in the household sticks to the plan. Consider whether the dog will be allowed on the furniture or not, where the dog will sleep, where and when the dog will eat, etc. The same goes for establishing a consistent routine. Determine when and where training will take place, when the dog will go on walks, and when he will enjoy unstructured playtime, etc.

Be consistent not only with ground rules and schedules, but also with the manner in which you treat your new family member. Most neglected animals have only known uncertainty and insecurity. Be patient. When the dog begins to understand that food, love and fun will be available on a consistent basis, he will begin to bond with your family/pack. The dog will relax into a feeling of security, and that’s when the real rehabilitation begins.

Photo by Kirby the Dorkie

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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4 thoughts on “The Role of Nutrition When Rehabilitating a Neglected Dog

  1. We got Mika from SPCA when he was seven months old and he was fine with us for just ONE month as a month later, he started to have dry-eye syndrome which was confirmed later as a life-time problem for him. When he was two years old, he started to be attacked by yeast and he has never got fully recovery from it until now. According to the vet’s studies, it’s his immune system which is brought down by his dad and mom who were strays for a long time. Malnutrition plays an important role in it.

  2. Feral cats have some of the same problems.I think dogs and cats that are out in the wild really don’t get the nutrition that they need. Especially kittens. Most of the feral kittens who don’t get any food are always very small.

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