Over the past several decades, scientists have compiled a body of evidence that aging dogs and humans experience similar physical changes and challenges. Likewise, certain functional ingredients may help both senior pets and their owners fend off age-related declines.
“Cognitive decline in senior dogs is remarkably similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans,” Juan Gomez, global director for Alltech's companion animal business, told Petfood Industry.
“The canine brain can serve as a model to understand the processes that lead to Alzheimer disease,” he said in the video from Petfood Forum 2017 posted below. “Humans and canines develop the same beta-amyloid plaques.”
Understanding the biological mechanisms that lead to the formation of these plaques can help not only doctors and veterinarians, but also pet food formulators. Dog food recipes can include certain functional ingredients that serve as what Gomez referred to as “nutritional interventions.”
Carnitine, essential fatty acids and aging dogs’ brains
“Research has shown a number of nutritional compounds can have beneficial effects for brain health,” he said. “The human brain for instance consumes 23 percent of the energy our whole body requires and carnitine helps transport fatty acids inside the mitochondria – the cell engine. These fatty acids are then used as a source of energy.
“Fish oil and microalgae are sources of DHA, an essential fatty acid, which is an integral part of neuron cell membranes,” Gomez said. “Cross-sectional studies in humans have demonstrated an association between DHA levels and dementia status. Higher levels of DHA having protective effects against cognitive decline. Similar effects with DHA supplementation have been seen within the senior canine model during landmark studies.”
Although no nutritional intervention offers a bath in the fountain of youth, certain supplements, nutrients and dietary strategies may help aging dogs and people stay healthy and active later in life.
Petfood Forum 2018
To learn more about functional ingredients in pet food, attend Petfood Forum 2018. Petfood Forum provides an opportunity for pet food professionals from around the world to network, exchange ideas and do business with one another and with the industry's leading pet food manufacturers and suppliers. Petfood Forum 2018 will take place at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri, USA on April 23 -25, 2018.