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Are cognitive supplements for dogs something it’s time to consider for your furry friend? As man’s best friend gracefully strides into the golden years, changes in behavior, memory, and learning capacity can emerge. These transformations in senior dogs may be likened to those experienced by humans suffering from conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), this degenerative condition affects an estimated 14-35% of dogs. Cognitive decline not only compromises the quality of life of our pets but also adds strain to the pet-owner relationship. Fortunately, scientific advancements in canine health have led to the development of various cognitive-boosting brain supplements for senior dogs, aiming to support their mental acuity, slow cognitive decline, and ensure a better quality of life.
But which supplements are trustworthy and effective? This guide to cognitive and brain supplements for dogs will help you learn everything you need to know to make an informed choice. You’ll find factors to consider when choosing a supplement and answers to all your questions. And to make the choice less overwhelming, we’ve rounded up a list of the best cognitive supplements for dogs. First though, let’s talk about the signs of cognitive decline in dogs.
What Are Some Signs That My Dog Might Be Suffering Cognitive Decline?
Cognitive decline in dogs, also known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. It can manifest in various behavioral changes, some of which might be subtle initially, but become more noticeable over time. Here are some key signs that your dog may be experiencing cognitive decline:
- Disorientation: Your dog may seem confused or disoriented, even in familiar environments. They might get stuck in corners, behind furniture, or forget the location of doors.
- Changes in Sleep Patterns: Dogs with CCD may sleep more during the day and less at night, resulting in restlessness or increased activity during the night.
- Loss of House Training: They may start having “accidents” indoors, forget where the door is, or forget why they went outside.
- Changes in Interaction: Dogs may show less interest in social interactions, petting, or greetings, or they may become clingy. They may seem to forget familiar people, animals, or places.
- Changes in Activity Levels: They may show less interest in exploring their environment, playing, or participating in family activities.
- Anxiety and Increased Irritability: Increased anxiety, particularly separation anxiety, or irritability can be signs of cognitive decline. Changes may include new fears and phobias or increased aggression.
- Altered Appetite: Changes in eating habits, such as eating less or seeming to forget to eat can indicate cognitive problems.
- Repetitive or Compulsive Behaviors: Pacing, circling, or staring at walls can be signs of cognitive decline. Some dogs may develop a fixation with a particular toy or object.
- Forgetfulness: Dogs may forget commands they’ve known for years, or appear not to hear you, although their hearing is fine.
If your dog is displaying one or more of these symptoms, it’s essential to seek veterinary advice. While these signs can indicate cognitive decline, they can also be symptoms of other serious health issues. An early diagnosis can lead to a treatment plan that may include medication, dietary changes, lifestyle adjustments, and cognitive-boosting supplements, all of which can significantly improve your dog’s quality of life.
What Ingredients Should I Look for in a Cognitive/Brain Supplement for a Senior Dog?
When looking for a cognitive or brain supplement for your senior dog, certain key ingredients have been scientifically proven to promote brain health and cognitive function. Here are some that you should consider:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Particularly DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid), these essential fatty acids help support brain health and function, reduce inflammation, and promote cardiovascular health. These fatty acids are found in fish oils and flaxseed oil.
- Phosphatidylserine: A phospholipid that is vital for cell structure and function, particularly in the brain. It’s been shown to improve cognitive function, memory, and stress response in dogs.
- Antioxidants: Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and other antioxidants can combat oxidative stress in brain cells, which may slow cognitive decline. Antioxidants can also support overall health and the immune system.
- Ginkgo Biloba: Known for its neuroprotective effects, this ancient plant can help improve memory and cognitive function in dogs, just as in humans.
- B Vitamins: Particularly Vitamin B6, B9, and B12, these vitamins support brain health and function, help in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, and can aid in reducing the risk of heart disease.
- L-Theanine: An amino acid found in green tea, L-Theanine can promote relaxation and reduce anxiety and stress-related behaviors in dogs, without causing drowsiness.
- SAM-e (S-Adenosyl methionine): This compound is used in the body to promote cellular repair, particularly in the liver and brain. It can aid in improving mental performance and mood.
- Resveratrol: Found in the skin of grapes, resveratrol has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. While more research is needed, preliminary studies show promise for brain health.
- Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs): Found in coconut oil and palm oil, MCTs can provide an alternative energy source for brain cells and have been shown to improve brain energy metabolism and decrease the amyloid protein buildup associated with dementia.
Remember, it’s essential to consult with a vet before starting any new supplement regimen, to ensure the chosen supplements align with your dog’s overall health plan. The vet can guide you in choosing a product that has undergone rigorous testing and quality assurance for safety and efficacy.
What Other Factors Should Be Considered When Choosing a Cognitive Supplement for Dogs?
Choosing cognitive supplements for dogs requires careful consideration to ensure safety, efficacy, and appropriateness for your dog. Consider the following:
- Specific Need or Condition: Determine why you’re considering a supplement. Is it for age-related cognitive decline, overall brain health, anxiety, or some other specific condition?
- Safety: Ensure all ingredients are safe for canine consumption. Avoid supplements with harmful fillers, artificial colors, or questionable additives.
- Efficacy: Look for ingredients known to support canine cognitive function, such as omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), antioxidants like vitamin E and C, L-carnitine, alpha-lipoic acid, and phosphatidylserine.
- Natural vs. Synthetic: Some pet parents prefer natural sources of supplements, such as herbs like Ginkgo biloba or Gotu kola.
- Evidence of Effectiveness: Seek products backed by scientific research or clinical studies indicating their efficacy in supporting canine cognitive function.
- Brand Reputation: Purchase from reputable brands with good reviews and history in the pet care industry.
- Potential Interactions: Consider any other medications or supplements your dog is taking to avoid possible interactions.
- Certifications: Check if the product is certified by a third party, such as the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) or other similar organizations, which may indicate higher standards of production.
- Age and Size Appropriateness: Ensure the supplement is appropriate for your dog’s age, breed, and size. Dosages and needs can vary.
- Ease of Administration: Supplements come in various forms, like chews, capsules, or liquids. Choose a form your dog will easily consume.
- Possible Side Effects: Research and understand any potential side effects associated with the supplement. Monitor your dog after starting the supplement to ensure no adverse reactions.
Remember, supplements are meant to enhance a balanced diet and should not be used as a substitute for a complete and balanced diet.
The 7 Best Cognitive Supplements for Dogs
#1 (BEST OVERALL) iHeartDogs Senior Super 7 Daily Dog Cognitive Multivitamin
The iHeartDogs Senior Super 7 Daily Dog Multivitamin is a 7-in-1 vitamin for senior dogs that is designed to support anti-aging, promote longevity, and boost cognitive function. With natural ingredients such as antioxidants, probiotics, and a 3 mushroom blend, this vitamin also provides assistance with reducing inflammation and allergies, increasing vision, and boosting the immune system. Each jar purchased also provides 14 healthy meals to a shelter dog.
#2 – (BEST FORMULA) Zesty Paws Advanced Cognition Soft Chews for Dogs – with Omega 3 DHA, Ashwagandha & Alpha GPC – for Senior Dog Brain Health & Nervous System Support – Supplement for Calming & Relaxation – 90 Count
The Zesty Paws Advanced Cognition Soft Chews and Bites are supplements for dogs designed to support brain function, nervous system health, and stress reduction. These chews are made with natural ingredients such as DHAgold, ashwagandha, and AlphaPrime and UltraCog, which are clinically studied ingredients that help with memory, learning, and clarity. They are ideal for senior dogs who need cognitive support and overall well-being.
#3 – (BEST ON A BUDGET) Ark Naturals Gray Muzzle Brain’s Best Friend, Vet Recommended Soft Chews for Cognitive Issues Associated with Aging, 90 Count
- Designed for senior dogs with cognitive issues
- Made with fish Oil (Omega-3), acetyl-l-carnitine, resveratrol, L-Theatine, phosphatidylserine, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, and ginkgo balboa
- Corn free, soy free, and wheat free and have
- Crafted in the USA with no artificial colors or preservatives
- Formulated by veterinarians for optimal results
Ark Naturals Gray Muzzle Brain’s Best Friend is a vet-recommended soft chew supplement designed for senior dogs aged 5 and above. The natural formula, which includes fish oil, acetyl-l-carnitine, resveratrol, and L-Theatine, aims to support cognitive issues associated with aging, including disorientation, recognition, memory, and learned behavior. The supplement should be used daily and is carefully crafted in the USA with high-quality and natural ingredients that are free from corn, soy, wheat, artificial colors, and preservatives.
#4 – GNC Pets ADVANCED Cognitive Support for Dogs, 90 ct | Chicken Flavored Soft Chews for Dogs with Turmeric, Ginkgo Biloba, Ashwagandha to Support Cognitive Health | Made in the USA
GNC Pets ADVANCED Cognitive Support for Dogs are chicken-flavored soft chews that contain natural ingredients like turmeric, ginkgo biloba, and ashwagandha to support cognitive health in dogs. These easy-to-swallow soft chews come in a 90-count pack and are made in the USA. Feeding directions recommend giving dogs up to 4 soft chews per day, depending on their weight.
#5 – Nutrition Strength Cognitive Support for Dogs, Promotes Dog Brain Health, Mental Support for Old Dogs, Supplement for Dogs with Cognitive Difficulties, 120 Chewable Tablets
Nutrition Strength Cognitive Support is a dog supplement that promotes cognitive health and mental stimulation for old dogs with cognitive difficulties. The formula includes phosphatidylserine, vitamin E, ginkgo biloba, resveratrol, and a blend of vitamins B and E. It is suitable for dogs of any breed, age, and size, and is made in the USA with high-quality ingredients. The product comes with a 365-day guarantee and can be taken with or without food.
#6 – Herbsmith Senior Dog Wisdom – Dog Dementia Supplement – DHA for Senior Dog Brain Health – Senior Supplement for Dogs- 60ct Small Chews
Herbsmith Senior Dog Wisdom is a supplement aimed at helping senior dogs with dementia. Made in the USA, Veterinarian-developed, and containing ingredients such as L-carnitine, Alpha Lipoid Acid, and Ginkgo Balboa, Senior Dog Wisdom promotes healthy brain function to combat symptoms such as confusion and sleep disruption, allowing senior dogs to live their best life for longer.
#7 – VETRISCIENCE Golden Years Calm and Confident Cognitive Support for Senior Dogs, Chicken, 60 Chews – Confusion, Anxiety, and Restlessness Support Supplement
VETRISCIENCE Golden Years Calm and Confident Cognitive Support for Senior Dogs is a supplement that aims to reduce confusion, anxiety, and restlessness in senior dogs while improving their cognitive function. Its special formula uses Colostrum Calming Complex and L-Theanine to promote mental processing, memory, and relaxed behavior. Made in the USA, its proven ingredients including Sharp-PS Green have been clinically shown to promote cognition and positive behavior in senior dogs.
FAQs About Cognitive & Brain Supplements for Dogs
What are cognitive supplements for dogs?
Cognitive supplements for dogs are specially formulated products designed to support and enhance brain function in canines. These supplements often contain a blend of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other ingredients aimed at promoting brain health, improving memory, and addressing symptoms associated with cognitive decline or dysfunction.
Can cognitive supplements help with my dog’s age-related cognitive decline?
Yes, cognitive supplements can potentially assist dogs experiencing age-related cognitive decline. They are formulated to address the deteriorating brain functions and can help improve memory, focus, and general cognition. However, the effectiveness can vary between individual dogs and the specific supplement used.
Are there any side effects associated with these supplements?
As with any supplement or medication, there can be potential side effects. Common side effects might include gastrointestinal upset, changes in appetite, or allergic reactions. It’s crucial to monitor your dog after introducing a new supplement and to consult a veterinarian regarding any concerning symptoms.
How long does it take to see results after starting my dog on cognitive supplements?
The time it takes to observe noticeable results can vary depending on the dog and the specific supplement. Some dog parents report seeing improvements in a few weeks, while others might take months. Consistent administration and patience are key.
Can puppies or younger dogs take cognitive supplements as a preventive measure?
While primarily designed for older dogs showing signs of cognitive decline, some cognitive supplements can be given to younger dogs as a preventive measure. However, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian to determine the appropriateness and dosage for puppies or younger dogs.
Do cognitive supplements replace the need for behavioral training or environmental enrichment?
No, cognitive and brain supplements do not replace the need for behavioral training or environmental enrichment. They can be a part of a holistic approach to canine cognitive health, but regular mental stimulation, training, and environmental interactions remain essential for a dog’s overall well-being.
Can I give my dog cognitive and brain supplements along with other medications or supplements?
It’s essential to consult with a veterinarian before combining cognitive supplements with other medications or supplements. Some ingredients might interact or interfere with each other, leading to decreased efficacy or potential side effects.
How often should I give my dog these supplements? Daily or as needed?
Most cognitive supplements are designed for daily administration to maintain consistent levels in the dog’s system and promote ongoing cognitive support. However, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions or the guidance provided by your veterinarian.
Can cognitive supplements help with issues other than cognitive decline, like anxiety or stress?
While cognitive supplements primarily target brain function and cognitive decline, some ingredients in these supplements might also offer benefits for anxiety or stress. Nonetheless, if a dog’s primary issue is anxiety or stress, specific anxiety-relief supplements or treatments would be more appropriate.
Are there any natural alternatives or dietary changes that can support canine cognitive function?
Yes, a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids (like those from fish oil), and certain vitamins can support brain health. Foods like blueberries, spinach, and turmeric, among others, have been cited for their cognitive benefits. Additionally, herbs like Ginkgo biloba and Gotu kola might offer natural support.
Do I need a veterinarian’s prescription to buy cognitive and brain supplements for my dog?
Most cognitive and brain supplements for dogs are available over-the-counter without a prescription. However, some specialized supplements or those that contain certain active ingredients might require a veterinarian’s prescription. Always consult a vet before starting any new supplement regimen.
Conclusion: Best Cognitive & Brain Supplements for Dogs
In an aging dog, cognitive decline can pose a significant challenge, and watching a beloved pet suffer from CCD is indeed heartbreaking. However, the use of cognitive-boosting supplements provides a glimmer of hope. While these supplements do not provide a cure, they can significantly improve the quality of life for senior dogs, helping them enjoy their golden years with a semblance of their former zest. It’s essential to consult with a vet before starting any new supplement regimen, to ensure the chosen supplements align with your dog’s overall health plan. With the right combination of lifestyle changes, diet, and cognitive-boosting supplements, your senior dog can experience the mental sharpness that enriches their life and strengthens the bond you share. Remember, old age is not a disease, but a stage of life where our furry companions need our understanding, love, and care more than ever.