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3 Simple Ways To Protect Your Dog From Dementia

Oct 18 / Sally Smith
The hardest thing about loving dogs is that we watch their entire lifetime through, from healthiest youth to the potential ailments of old age. It’s the old age bit, and specifically Canine Cognitive Dysfunction that we will consider here.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction is commonly known as dog dementia. We see it as fading sharpness of the mental state, confusion and often related anxiety. Dementia for people is common in the West but still rare in many places in the World. In the West it is increasingly being termed the third diabetes, because it’s so closely related to lifestyle.

As we are seeing the rise in dementia in people here, we are seeing the same rise in dementia in our beloved dogs. Unsurprisingly we might say, because our lifestyle creates the same lifestyle in our dog companions, and if we eat convenience foods, often so do our dogs. If we binge on Netflix more than we should – so do our dogs.

So how can we keep the brains of our dogs sharp and spare our beloved friends from developing the distressing cognitive dysfunction which is becoming so common?

Dog and human brains are not that different. They both need the same input to thrive, and as we age both dogs and people have specific needs to keep fuelling our brains and live long mentally capable lives. Every single dog’s brain need three things, good nutrition, oxygen and stimulation.

Nutrition and Canine Dementia 

Nutrition and dog food is a complex and lengthy topic; however, the fresher our dog’s food is the better. Kibble and commercial supermarket dog foods will simply not protect a dog from dementia. It’s akin to us eating barely nutritionally adequate biscuits for our entire life and expecting to be at our very best state when we reach 70 years old. Feeding fresh food, fish regularly, home cooked or raw foods, lots of different foods and not giving your dog rubbish filled treats will support their brain providing the best possible nutrition. 

Exercising Your Ageing Dog 

Brains also need the benefits of oxygen. Dogs do not benefit from long periods of stillness. If our older dogs are skipping walks because they don’t ask for them or we don’t really need to because they are settled – we could be doing them more harm than good. Getting them running, playing and panting in a way suitable for them will get their blood flowing and oxygen to those precious ageing brain cells.

Joint degeneration will also be slowed with suitable exercise. Something simple like targeting your dog to your hand and moving around quicker than usual for your dog to follow and touch your hand will get their blood flowing. Slow walks are also so much better than no walks because even slow walks get the blood flowing and provide the dog’s brain with external stimulation.

Which leads us nicely to part three of what the brain needs.

You Should Teach Your Old Dog New Tricks

Stimulation means that your dog needs to learn new things, right into their senior years. Learning creates the precious neural pathways which keep their brain active. Solving problems such as stacking cups or learning new and simple tasks will provide your dog’s brain with super stimulation and keep it active, avoiding boredom which is a motivation destroyer all on its own. Walks in new places, social meetings and meeting new dogs and people all help a dog to stay happily stimulated. All of these things protect the brain and none of them take too much time or effort on our part.

So that’s what your dog’s brain needs. Your dog might rest a lot more as they get older which is natural. If you create activities, males and life experiences around the brain’s need for nutrition, oxygen and stimulation you are giving your friend the best chance of avoiding canine cognitive dysfunction.

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