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Brain health key for Australia’s one million senior dogs

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Nutrition shown to help bring back the spark in dogs aged 7+

New scientific evidence^ has shown that just like humans, cognitive decline can occur in aging dogs. Released today, The Bright Mind New Tricks Report reveals that while 85 per cent of Australian dog owners recognise physical and brain health as equally important, one in three aren’t sure where to start when it comes to looking after their dog’s brain health.

In fact, the research from Purina uncovers that most dog owners don’t know their dogs are considered senior from their 7th birthday and a third (32 per cent) think their dog isn’t senior until it reaches double digits.

Just like Australia’s human population is aging, so are Australia’s dogs; more than one million households own a senior dog*. While breed and size can have an effect, it’s generally accepted that a seven to 10 year-old dog is equivalent to a 50 to 70 year-old person; maturing into, and entering ‘senior’ years by human standards.

“Supplements to support human brain health have become mainstream in the last 10 years and it has almost become second nature to supplement our diets with ‘brain food’. Now with a breakthrough nutritional discovery from Purina, Australian dog owners can help look after their senior dog’s brain as they age,” said vet, Rachel Chay.

“Evidence shows us that scientifically developed formulas can be incredibly helpful in easing the symptoms and potentially slowing down progressions of cognitive decline,” said Dr Chay.

As humans get older, brain function can slow down, and thinking and reaction times can
change. The same is true for dogs, but most owners notice the physical signs of aging first, like joint pain and a decrease in energy. Only a quarter recognise the symptoms of declining brain health, such as disorientation, forgetfulness or failure to respond to commands.

“Many dog owners have made the comment ‘they’re just getting old’ when they see a change in their behaviour as they get older. The behaviour traits owners most value, such as their dog following commands and seeking affection are actually the most likely to be impacted by declining cognitive health,” said Dr Chay.

For 72 per cent of owners, their dog is an important member of the family and another 12 per cent say their dog is number one and is considered in everything the family does.

“As a nation, we love our dogs. They are fully-fledged members of the family and there’s often a deep bond between a dog and its owner. It can be distressing for an owner when a dog begins to show signs of aging, but especially when it is a behaviour change,” said Former NSW Police Dog Unit Training Coordinator and Director of Dog Force Australia, Dave Wright.

Mr Wright says that from the time a puppy enters the home, owners should be thinking about what they can do to look after the health of their dog’s brain. In addition to ensuring their dog is receiving the right nutrition to nourish the brain (and body), owners can stimulate cognitive activity through exercise and training.

“Whether a dog is a pet or a working dog, it’s important to encourage engagement through exercise and basic training skills. Even hiding a ball, toy or food in long grass and encouraging a dog to seek it out is a simple way to support strong brain function,” said Mr Wright. 

Purina Research and Development experts have discovered that food can play a critical role in supporting canine aging. While many owners understand that dogs need age appropriate food, only one in two (52 per cent) choose their dog’s food based on the life stage of their dog and 48 per cent know that food plays an important role in addressing canine brain health.

PRO PLAN BRIGHT MIND is a breakthrough innovation in canine nutrition for dogs aged 7+. It contains a unique blend of oils to provide energy to the brain and key nutrients that nourish the body. Owners may see improvements in cognitive abilities within 30 days including memory and desire to play and interact with their owners, in dogs aged 7 and over. 

In a published Purina feeding study^, dogs aged 7 or older who ate the dry dog food formulated with the unique blend of oils showed improvements in their cognitive abilities. For example, they showed improvements in their ability to remember things like where a hidden object was, and in their ability to learn new behaviours in a series of tests.

For more information visit the PRO PLAN website, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.