Cognitive dysfunction syndrome: Changing your pet’s diet to treat dementia

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Senior pets, like people, can suffer mental decline that is not considered a normal part of aging. Last time we wrote about how one form of dementia — cognitive dysfunction syndrome or CDS — can be delayed or prevented with thinking games. This week we’re looking at how a change in diet and exercise might delay its progress. (Read all our CDS posts.)

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Jay is a healthy, adoptable senior Dachshund in Richmond, BC.

Changes in your dog or cat’s diet can play a big part in treating cognitive dysfunction syndrome.

In a recent study at the University of Toronto, senior dogs fed an antioxidant-rich diet performed better in a problem-solving test than those fed a regular diet.

Even more promising, the dogs who were fed the special diet and also given cognitive enrichment performed best of all. (Read the full article here.)

Dogs in the study were fed Hill’s
Prescription Diet b/d
,  which is only
available for dogs. So I asked Calabash, NC-based veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward what  supplements could help both dogs and cats with CDS. Here’s what he recommended:

Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) 
“Perhaps no other supplement has been as hyped as fish oils over the past five years,” Dr. Ward says. Believe the hype. “I encourage all dogs, cats and people to add DHA/EPA to their daily diet. Whether it’s to reduce the inflammation of arthritis, improve brain health, boost the immune system or aid kidney function, this supplement packs a healthy punch.”

SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine)
“As pets age, liver and brain function may falter. SAMe is a supplement that helps both. SAMe helps protect these vital tissues from oxidative damage and may even help reduce some of the personality changes seen in many older pets.”

“Recent research has shown how important those tiny bugs found throughout our bodies are. As we age, these bacteria become imbalanced, affecting everything from digestion to immune response to, potentially, behavior. Look for a product with at least one billion bacteria [per dose] and containing strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.” (Ask your vet how often your pet should take the supplement.)

So if your pet is starting to show signs of mental decline, talk to your vet about supplementing his diet or switching to a specially formulated prescription brand. All supplements may affect your pet in unexpected ways — and the ingredients in human health supplements and pet health supplements are not always the same — so it’s important to speak with your vet first before making any changes to your pet’s diet.

Tell us: Do you give you pets supplements? Why?

Coming soon: Medications for CDS and their side effects

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More about cognitive dysfunction syndrome:

Blog: How thinking games help senior pets stay sharp

Blog: Could my senior pet have dementia?

Blog: What are the signs of dementia in pets?

Blog: How is dementia in pets diagnosed?

You might also like:

Article: Changing Your Dog’s Food

Article: Reading Dog Food Labels

Article: Your Dog’s Necessary Nutrients