They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. We call “dogwash” on this! As veterinarians we know that with ongoing veterinary care, exercise, mental stimulation, and the right nutritional and supplemental support even elderly dogs can keep their physical kicks and tricks sharp, and their minds sharper. Supporting canine cognitive health is undoubtedly key to this endeavor.
With ownership of senior pets on the rise – US dog-owning households with senior dogs (age 7+) increased from 42% in 2012 to 52% in 2022 – the veterinary community is currently seeing a similar increase in senior pet problems creak through our practice doors. The usual suspects? Joint problems, arthritis, deteriorating digestive health, kidney problems, heart health woes, and liver function foibles, to name a few. But canine cognitive disorders and mild changes in behavior? These are often waved off by many pet owners as a normal part of aging. As “slowing down” rather than symptoms of something more serious. The result? Cognitive issues in elderly dogs, which could be slowed down or stopped altogether, often go completely unreported.
Yet small changes in behavior – changes in awareness, deficits in learning and memory, and decreased responsiveness to stimuli for example – could be a sign of cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). Knowing this, it is up to veterinarians to:
- be proactive in counseling owners on the importance of reporting behavioral signs, and
- recommending the right tools to help support canine cognitive health.
Supplemental Support for Canine Cognitive Health
One such tool to help our canine friends stay sharp? A canine cognitive support supplement, designed specifically to help support healthy brain function and slow down natural cognitive decline in the aging canine.
Case in point? ThorneVet’s Canine Cognitive Support Formula: a powerhouse combination of a dozen natural ingredients that:
- synergistically supports the nervous system and
- protects against neurodegenerative disorders that can adversely impact our canine friends.
Key Ingredients to Help and Heal Canine Brain Health
So, what exactly are these brain-boosting ingredients which are able to deliver a powerful sucker punch to neurological degeneration?
A powerful antioxidant that enhances energy production for the brain by increasing creatine and phosphocreatine. DMG also provides building blocks for the brain’s neurotransmitters and optimizes circulation and oxygen utilization in the brain.
An amino acid well known for boosting nitric oxide production, L-arginine improves cerebro-cortical blood flow. Optimizing circulation to the canine brain enhances and maintains peak neurologic function.
Botanical ingredients like Ginkgo biloba, Avena sativa, and Bacopa monnieri have been widely shown to support healthy nervous system function, as well as prevent neurodegenerative disorders. These powerful ingredients from nature exhibit antioxidant effects, enhance circulation, and nourish the nervous system – with the associated benefit of boosting memory and mood, while also alleviating stress and anxiety.
Phosphatidylserine provides support for stabilizing neuronal membranes thus helping prevent the many adverse effects of inflammation and guarding against neurodegeneration.
Alpha lipoic acid and astaxanthin
Antioxidants that have been shown to protect the nervous system from oxidative damage by scavenging free radicals and preventing the harmful effects of inflammation on the brain. Working to minimize the negative effects of inflammatory processes has a supportive effect on the proper functioning of the nervous system in the aging dog.
Tissue-ready B vitamins crucial for supporting a healthy nervous system by aiding cellular energetic pathways, exhibiting antioxidant and neuroprotective effects, and supporting both myelin and neurotransmitter synthesis.
While we can’t put a complete stop to the onward march of time, with supplements like these in play, we can certainly give our canine patients their best shot at keeping their wits about them.
Dr. Keith Weingardt is a 1999 graduate of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. He completed acupuncture certification from the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society in 2004 and certification in herbal medicine at the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine in 2006. He has started successful integrative veterinary practices in San Diego, CA and Portland, OR. He is a dedicated herbalist and enjoys working with the plants of the Pacific Northwest. Currently, he works as a consultant for ThorneVet, specializing in product development and continuing education.