Nutritional Help for Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

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Food and supplements can play a part in maintaining optimal canine cognitive functioning and supporting an aging canine brain. Dr. Fry advises talking with your vet about adding antioxidant supplements that have shown benefits for the brain, such as Denosyl, which contains S-Adenosylmethionine (SAM-e), into your dog’s diet. The most advantageous time to do this, he says, is in your dog’s “middle age” –before she shows any signs of CCD. 

In addition, Dr. Tracy advises owners to feed diets high in omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil) and medium-chain triglycerides (found in coconut oil), which may be neuroprotective and even decrease the likelihood that a dog will develop CCD.

Both veterinarians recommend commercially available diets such as Purina’s Bright Mind 7+, Purina Pro Plan’s NeuroCare, or Hill’s Science Diet BD. These products include supplements and/or therapeutic levels of nutrients that studies have shown may support cognitive functioning in senior dogs. 

Editor’s note: The above-named products don’t generally have the characteristics we look for in a quality dog food. However, if a trial of a month or more of feeding one of these foods results in any improvement in your dog’s CCD, it makes sense to continue feeding the product! Or, owners may opt to discuss with their veterinarian how best to supply their dog with nutrients that may improve their senior dog’s cognitive function. These may include arginine, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, another omega-3 fatty acid), and B vitamins. 

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