A healthy mind promotes a healthy body, so feeding your dog’s brain is essential in reaching optimal health and wellness. The most important part of nutrition is feeding a high-quality, nutritious meal with whole foods and real ingredients, but sometimes supplements can be added to ensure your dog is getting enough from their food. A proper diet should start from puppyhood to allow dogs to grow strong with healthy cognitive function and even reducing the risk of degenerative brain diseases as they age into seniors. Regardless of your dog’s age, however, it’s never too late to start offering proper nutrition.
#1 – DHA & EPA
DHA and EPA are omega-3 fatty acids that have a way of benefiting the entire body. From combatting cancer, inflammation and obesity, it’s no surprise that these two supplements improve brain health. A study performed in 2012 of 48 Beagle puppies showed that a diet supplemented with fish oil containing DHA improved cognitive learning, memory, psychomotor, immunologic and retinal functions during the developmental stage. The brain is made up of mostly fat, so essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA can benefit brain health. DHA and EPA are found often in fish, but can be provided by healthy supplements like Project Paws™ Omega-3 Select soft chews.
#2 – B Vitamins
B vitamins are essential for proper brain function. Studies in humans have shown that vitamins B6 and B12 have positive effects on memory performance in women and comparable assumptions might also be applied to dogs. Vitamin B6 is used by the body to form neurotransmitters and in brain development and B12 to make red blood cells and DNA – all related to brain function. B vitamins are found in meats, an ingredient that should be readily available in your dog’s diet.
#3 – Luteolin
Luteolin is a compound found in plants (think fruits and vegetables) that has been proven to reduce inflammation of the brain in aged mice, restoring their memories to that comparable in younger animals. Although studies haven’t been done on dogs, it certainly might be helpful to feed whole foods that contain this supplement such as celery, carrots and rosemary.
#4 – Vitamins C & E
Vitamins C and E are antioxidants that protect the body and brain from free radical damage. In humans, antioxidants have been found to delay cognitive decline in their elderly years. Researchers at University of California, Irvine conducted a study in 2002 in which they fed their dogs vitamins C and E along with a mixture of fruits and vegetables to combat free radical damage. This resulted in a significant improvement in the ability of older dogs to acquire progressively more difficult learning tasks – meaning a reduction in cognitive dysfunction. Berries, leafy greens and other fruits and vegetables are high in these antioxidants.
BONUS: Don’t forget about brain toys!
Don’t forget about the importance of play. Functional toys, such a treat dispensing balls or puzzle toys, are a great way to stimulate your dog’s brain and body. As dog’s age, the need for stimulation increases and these toys are particularly important for adult and senior dogs.
Project Play recently released our Brain Ball ™. Not only will your purchase help feed your dog’s brain, but each toy purchased provides one for a shelter dog as well!