How To Support Cognition and Brain Health in Older Dogs

Posted by David Galvez on

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How common are cognition and brain health problems in mature dogs?

Almost all mammals show signs of brain aging and cognitive deficit as they age. As we improve our understanding of optimum nutrition and continue to make advances in preventive medicine, dogs (and people!) live longer and thus experience more age-related changes.

Cognition health problems are likely underdiagnosed but is projected to affect between 14% and 35% of the pet dog population. 

Could your dog have cognition and brain health problems? 

Behaviour changes are often the first sign of an underlying cognition problem. Many of the changes that we may attribute to our dogs getting older, like slowing down, being less interested in walks, or less playful, can be signs of an underlying health problem. 

There are 4 main symptoms typically associated with cognition and brain health problems:

  • Apparent confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Disturbance of sleep/wake cycle
  • Decreased interaction of the pet with owners 

How are cognition and brain health problems identified?

If you notice any changes in your dog's behaviour, talk to your veterinary team. They can help you rule out other medical issues and determine the root cause of the changes you have noticed.

Just "getting old"?

Contrary to a common believe, the cognitive impairment we see with cognition and brain health problems are not a normal part of aging. 

Physical Symptoms

Some physical changes can be signs of cognition and brain health problems. Loss of vision and sense of smell, tremors, swaying or falling, or your dog's head drooping can all be physical signs of cognition and brain health problems

The earlier we intervene, the better

Cognition and brain health problems are progressive and could get worse as your dog ages. The sooner you assist your older dog, the more significant impact you can have on the progression of these problems. 

What can you do?

There are three main things you can do to support the cognition and brain normal health of your aging dog:

  1. Provide a diet and or supplement rich in antioxidants, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, Vitamin E, and amino acids like L-carnitine and L-Arginine.
  2. Provide as much social and mental enrichment as possible.
  3. Add or maintain regular exercise.
  4. Ensure regular social interactions with other dogs and people.
  5. Look for toys and food puzzles that require focus and coordination.
  6. Consider additional supplements that provide:
  • Phosphatidylserine
  • Omega 3 fatty acids, specially EPA and DHA
  • A blend of antioxidants

There are several therapeutic and nutritional approaches that can to be effective in resolving cognition and brain health problems

Cognitive Enrichment

Cognitive enrichment has been shown to improve brain function in dogs with cognition and brain health problems and prevent or delay cognitive decline in dogs as they age. 

Providing your dog with new opportunities to explore, climb, and chase are all fantastic ways to enrich their life. Food puzzle toys that require your dog to push, lift, paw, or roll to access their food can help them remain active and alert. 

What if we could prevent cognition and brain health problems?

When your dog reaches middle age, you can start considering preventive measures to decrease the risk of developing cognition and brain health problems. Feeding an ideal diet can help keep your dog's brain healthy. Keeping your dog active and mentally stimulated can help reduce the risk of developing these health problems.

Supplements to support and maintain cognition and brain health 

Sharp Again provides ingredients that support and maintain normal function and health of your dog's brain and cognitive status.

Active Ingredients:

Omega 3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, are critical to maintaining the healthy function of joints, eyes, skin, and brain. 

Phosphatidylserine (PS for short) is a fatty acid that protects your dog's brain cells as they age.  

L-Carnitine, every cell in your dog's body needs energy to function properly. 

Pomegranate and Blueberry (Antioxidant blend) The first line of defense against oxidative stress are antioxidants. 

Pumpkin seed meal is a natural powerhouse of Omega 6 fatty acids, antioxidants, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, and Vitamin B3 (Niacin).

Remember, if you think your senior dog is having physical or mental difficulties, consult with your veterinary team. 


  1. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment.
  2. Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, A Disease of Canine and Feline Brain Aging. Gary M. Landsberg, DVM, Jeff Nichol, DVM, Joseph A. Araujo, BSc.
  3. Physical signs of canine cognitive dysfunction. Makiko Ozawa, Mai Inoue, Kazuyuki Uchida, James K. Chambers,Yukari Takeuch and Hiroyuki Nakayama.

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