Supplements To Improve Cognitive Function In Dogs

Dog Supplements

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By Dr Dan Beatty

I understand how much you care for your dog’s well-being, and that includes their mental health. Cognitive function in our canine companions involves the ability to learn, think, and solve problems. Healthy cognition is crucial for a dog’s ability to interact with the environment in a meaningful way.

What many dog owners don’t realize is that, much like humans, the food and supplements we provide for our dogs can have a significant impact on their brain health. A diet rich in specific nutrients can help support and even enhance cognitive function, especially as dogs age.

So, if you are noticing your furry friend isn’t quite as sharp as they used to be, or if you’re just proactive about their health, considering supplements might be a wise step. The right supplements can potentially recharge their thinking skills and overall vitality.

We’ll explore some of these natural supplements. You’ll learn how they can address various aspects of your dog’s health, not only improving cognitive function but also providing other important health benefits.

Natural Supplements for Cognitive Enhancement in Dogs

Possessing a sharp mind is as crucial for dogs as it is for humans. With a wave of research highlighting natural ingredients that may bolster cognition, pet owners now have more options to support their companions’ mental agility. Let’s examine several natural supplements that claim a spot in the canine cognitive enhancement arsenal.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom is not only a delicious food, but it also has several health benefits. This unique fungus is believed to promote gut health and possess anti-cancer properties. Furthermore, it is known to improve heart health, combat diabetes, and even reduce anxiety and stress. All of these advantages indirectly benefit cognitive health, as a healthier body can support a sharper mind. In terms of brain function, Lion’s Mane mushroom is a superstar known for its potential to support and enhance brain health. It contains compounds like hericenones and erinacines, which have been shown to stimulate the growth of brain cells and potentially improve cognitive function.

Fish Oil is another supplement championed for its high omega-3 fatty acid content, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are highly beneficial for cognitive function in dogs. It’s linked to a host of health benefits, including support for the heart, joints, and the immune system. Most intriguingly for dog owners is its potential to improve their furry friend’s coat and skin, alongside cognitive advantages due to these fatty acids’ anti-inflammatory properties.

Phosphatidylserine is a substance vital for brain health, playing a role in cellular function and aiding in the improvement of cognition. It’s particularly noteworthy for dogs with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), a condition akin to dementia in humans, as it has been shown to help mitigate some of the associated cognitive decline. Phosphatidylserine can also improve mental functions in dogs, such as learning ability, memory, and attention span, perfect for biohacking!

Finally, Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), derived primarily from coconut oil, offer an alternative energy source to the brain’s usual glucose. This could be especially beneficial for older dogs, who may experience reduced glucose metabolism, providing their brain cells with a much-needed energy boost. Research suggests that MCTs could potentially enhance cognitive abilities and overall brain function in aging dogs. Also, for biohackers, MCTs may have neuroprotective properties, potentially slowing the progression of cognitive decline and protecting against neuronal loss and brain aging.

Advanced Cognitive Support and Neuroprotection

Our four-legged friends need just as much care for their mental health as we do. Knowing how to shield their brains from age-related decline is crucial. This section will highlight some supplements renowned for their neuroprotective properties and their ability to enhance your dog’s mental performance.

SAM-e, or S-Adenosylmethionine, is more than just a bundle of syllables. It’s a compound naturally found in the body that has substantial neuroprotective benefits. SAM-e boosts neuronal health and mental agility by maintaining cell membrane fluidity and optimizing receptor function. What does this mean for your dog? Improved mood, increased brain activity, and potentially, a slowdown of age-related mental decline.

Another gem for supporting our dogs as they age is L-Carnitine. It’s like a personal trainer for the brain, helping to keep it fit and sharp. L-Carnitine is especially known for aiding in muscle maintenance which in turn sustains cognitive function. Just as we might choose puzzles to keep our minds active, giving our dogs L-Carnitine can support their brain’s health as they grow older.

L-Carnosine steps in as a potent antioxidant. Its role? Guarding your dog’s brain against the wear and tear of time. Antioxidants are the body’s defense agents, and L-Carnosine excels at protecting brain cells from damage caused by free radicals. This translates to a more resilient brain, capable of fending off the effects of aging.

Lastly, L-Theanine means calming the mind without the z’s. Derived from green tea, it naturally reduces anxiety and stress in dogs without causing additional sleepiness. Perfect for our pets who may feel anxious or unsettled, it helps maintain a serene mind, contributing to overall cognitive health.

Integrating Cognition-Boosting Supplements into Your Dog’s Diet

You now have a handle on the supplements that can support your dog’s cognitive health, but how do you safely incorporate them into your pet’s diet? Let’s walk through some essential guidelines.

First and foremost, ALWAYS consult with your veterinarian, preferably a holistic or integrative one that may have more knowledge on supplements such as these, before introducing any new supplements into your dog’s diet. Your vet can help you understand the right dosage for your pet based on their specific needs and existing health conditions.

Keep in mind that supplements should complement your dog’s diet, not replace it. Ensure your pet is on a balanced, fresh food diet that provides all the necessary nutrients for overall health.

When starting a new supplement, do so gradually. Keep a close eye on your dog for any changes in behavior or digestion, and report these to your vet.

Lastly, focus on a long-haul approach. Cognitive health isn’t built overnight, so be patient and consistent with supplementation. Watch for subtle improvements in your dog’s behavior and cognitive functions as they benefit from these brain-boosting additions to their diet.

Supporting research –

Effect of Age and Dietary Intervention on Discrimination Learning in Pet Dogs, Durga Chapagain, et al, Front Psychol. 2018; 9: 2217

Dietary supplementation with medium-chain TAG has long-lasting cognition-enhancing effects in aged dogs, Yuanlong Pan, et al., British Journal of Nutrition, 2010 Jun;103(12):1746-54.

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