Whether you have a young puppy just beginning his journey or a senior dog that is starting to slow down, it’s essential to find food that does more than just fill his tummy.
Sometimes we can only focus on the proper nutrients to give our dog a strong body and healthy coat, which of course, is super important! But we sometimes forget about ensuring that our dog has a diet that will benefit the health of his brain.
A Decrease in Brain Function
Before we begin, we’re going to address the decrease in your senior dog’s brain functions, particularly with memory issues. A real concern is dementia, otherwise known as canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD).
Dogs have a blood-brain barrier that surrounds their brains, allowing the right nutrients from the bloodstream to enter the brain’s cells. As a dog ages, this barrier thins and becomes penetrable, which can allow harmful particles access to the brain, contributing to the decline in brain health.
Oxidative stress occurs when a dog’s body undergoes normal metabolic processes, which then produces free radicals. The free radicals and oxidation can then damage the proteins, cells, and DNA.
So, what exactly is wrong with oxidation, and why does it have such a harmful effect on the body? Well, the way that metals rust or an apple starts to turn brown after it’s been cut is an effect that occurs due to oxidation. It also happens to the brain as it ages.
Certain supplements and ingredients are known to improve a dog’s memory as well as the ability to learn or relearn. Antioxidants provide the best nutrients that help decrease the free radicals and oxidants in the brain tissues (hence, antioxidants), which will help slow the onset of CCD.
The following are foods and supplements that are all great for your dog’s brain health because they are full of antioxidants and are safe for your dog to eat. We’ve broken the list down into age categories since puppies and senior dogs have brains that are at different stages and will require different nutrition.
Brain Foods for Puppies
Proper nutrition for puppies and young dogs is vital since it will support their growing bodies, and of course, their brain health. It can also set them up for protection against conditions as they grow older.
Finding your puppy a diet that contains these supplements is clearly an important part of ensuring your pet’s health as he grows up. Most high-quality puppy food should have the required amount of these nutrients, but if you’re considering adding any extra as a supplement, be sure to speak to your vet first. It’s possible to give your dog too much, and overdose is a possibility.
Brain Foods for Adult Dogs
In order to support dogs in the prime of their life, they do need antioxidants on a daily basis. It will ensure their body and brain health is kept at an optimum level.
Adult dogs are generally healthy, both in body and brain function, but providing them with the right antioxidants and nutrients will ensure you’ll maintain their health well into their senior years.
Brain Foods for Senior Dogs
This is the age group that will truly benefit from antioxidants. They need an extra boost for their immune systems as well as to help maintain brain health, and these antioxidants should help.
All of these supplements and nutrients are very important for your dog’s physical and brain health. Antioxidants should be used in addition to other vitamins and minerals as part of a healthy diet that will all work together to keep your dog at peak health.
Antioxidants occur naturally in a variety of plants, but of course, there are a number of fruit and vegetables that aren’t good for dogs. So, you need to find food full of antioxidants that are also compatible with a dog’s diet.
Consult with your veterinarian before you start adding new food to your dog’s daily meals. Additionally, when adding new food to your dog’s diet, be sure to do so very slowly.
Again, speak to your vet before changing your dog’s meals and adding any new food.
Oils for Brain Health
Antioxidants are clearly one of the best sources of food that can contribute to your dog’s brain health. But there are oils that can also help.
Speak to your vet before adding oil to your dog’s diet. You need to be sure to give him the right amount as you certainly don’t want your dog to experience weight issues.
Other Ways to Exercise Your Dog’s Brain
Other than feeding your dog or adding supplements that are rich in antioxidants, there are other methods you can use to improve your dog’s brain health.
Just be sure to keep to a routine as this can make your dog feel more confident and comfortable.
Proper nutrition combined with physical and mental exercises should help your dog keep his cognitive functions healthier for longer and benefit their health in many ways. Antioxidants are clearly essential for brain health, and the average dog food doesn’t usually have enough for your dog’s daily dose. Speak to your vet about adding new foods and supplements to his diet.
We all really want to spend as much time as possible with our dogs, and we certainly want them to have sharp minds for their entire lives. We hope these suggestions will help you both enjoy your time together from puppy to the golden years.
Other Dog Reads:
- 10 Common Fat Sources in Dog Food
- How Much Protein Do Senior Dogs Need?
- Buying Dog Food In Bulk: Benefits and Risks
Featured image credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock