Like us, our four-legged friends are now living to a ripe old age due to the advances in veterinary care! It is often easy to see the physical symptoms of the aging process, like a grey muzzle, or getting stiff when walking. However, recognising the signs that your pet’s brain is aging can be much more of a challenge!
Brain aging (also called cognitive dysfunction) involves neuro-behavioural changes that can occur in senior pets due a decline in function of the brain’s neurones (nerve cells). It is a very similar condition to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia which we see in humans. As your pet ages, protein plaques can stick to structures in the brain. This causes an interruption to the nerve messages to and from the brain.
As pet owners, we may start to notice changes in our cat’s or dog’s personality such as them getting grumpy! Or keeping us awake all night!
There are two easy ways we can help to support brain aging: Supplement support and environment enrichment. But first, let’s explore the wide range of signs that might suggest your furry friend is starting to suffer brain aging. These can include:
1. Disorientation at home
2. Changes in social interactions (whether with people or animals)
3. Decline in house training
4. Alterations to the sleep/wake cycle
It is important to note that all these behaviours can also be caused by medical illness, which is why we also recommend discussing with us or your family vet to rule out any other conditions such as arthritis or incontinence. Brain aging can also occur alongside the deterioration of other senses such as hearing and vision.
There are two main areas which work together to help support and improve the brain’s ability to cope as it naturally ages. And the good news? They are easy adaptations to make to your pet’s routine!
‘Use it or lose it’: To keep your pet’s neurons functioning well, we need to be actively using them. It can be as simple as introducing a new toy or treat or stimulating different senses such as smell or touch.
mmmmmm, massage and brushing feels sooooo goooooood.
Every day, we are learning more ways that nutrition can help to keep our adored pets healthy. Antioxidants and supplements can help to repair damage to the cells in the body and are very useful in helping to protect the brain’s neurons from the effects of brain aging.
Aktivait® (VetPlus, UK) is a nutritional supplement aimed to optimise brain function and activity levels of both senior cats and dogs. Research has proven that this complex formulation protects the brain from free radical damage and enhances the electrical messages between brains cells. By doing so, it then helps to reduce age-related loss of mental function and activity levels in your pet.
The formula includes antioxidants (vitamins C & E, selenium, co-enzyme Q10, alpha-lipoic acid and N-acetyl cysteine) to fight the oxidative damage, and compounds that support brain cells’ function and its metabolism (carnitine, phosphatidylserine and the omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA). Aktivait comes in a convenient capsule so it can be easily hidden in a yummy treat or opened and the contents sprinkled over dinner!
Serene CBD Oil helps improve anxiety that brain aging may cause and help create a sense of calmness for dogs and cats.
CBD oil helps protect the nervous system and assists with restful sleep. As our dogs age, sound sleep is as important for their normal healing and rejuvenation process to promote overall health and well-being as it is for humans. Serene CBD oil uses organically farmed coconut oil to carry the active ingredients, making it easy to add into your pet’s meal.
There are prescription medications available which may also help with brain aging. It is good to have a conversation with your family vet and see if these may be beneficial for your animal.
The team at Paws in Motion would love to visit you and your senior pet in the comfort of your home. We can create a program incorporating physical exercises to improve neuroplasticity and brain function, and teach you massage techniques to relax and soothe your senior companion. We can also recommend suitable diets and supplements such as Aktivait or CBD oil. Together we can make your pet more comfortable and improve their quality of life!!