This post is sponsored by Nestle Purina® and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about the BetterWithPets campaign but Bling, Bitches & Blood only shares information relevant to our readers. Purina is not responsible for the content of this article.
On November 3rd, I was pleased to attend the 3rd Nestle Purina #BetterWithPets event held in Brooklyn, NY, an all day event offered that several panels in the morning, which I blogged about here. Afternoon experiential hands-on exhibits followed the panels, and that’s the focus of today’s blog. Everything was designed with the intention of “Exploring the best ideas for bringing people and pets closer together.”
Those who follow my blog know that I live with three pets: Karma-Kat (my youngest at age two); nine year old Magical-Dawg; and my Siamese wannabe, Seren, who will celebrate her 20th birthday in February. Aging pets strike a chord with pet people, having shared so much time and love with us–but all of us worry not only about physical challenges but the heartbreak of cognitive changes. We remember the youthful exuberance, joyful play, and sharp attention to everything–and when that begins to fade, it hurts your heart especially when partnered with that puzzled look of incomprehension in the pet’s eyes.
Old Dogs, Aging Brains
I’ve written about cognitive challenges in pets many times here on the blog and in my aging pets books, so I was intrigued and delighted to learn more about one special topic/exhibit at the Better With Pets summit. Purina’s top scientists have studied the effects of brain aging, discovered how enhanced botanical oils benefit the brain, and have incorporated MCTs into ProPlan BRIGHT MIND™ dog food (for dogs age 7+).
I wanted to blog about this immediately, and even have a short interview in the video (below) from Dr. Janet Jackson and Dr. Yuanlong (Gary) Pan recorded during the event. I’ve known Dr. Jackson for many years, having interviewed her a number of times for articles and books–we were both “mentors” and co-columnists on an educational online site for many years.
Dr. Jackson joined the company in 1990 and today is the Vice President of Nutritional Research at Nestle Purina PetCare. Dr. Pan is a Senior Research Scientist at Nestle Purina and joined the company in 2000, and focuses on developing specific nutrients to promote brain health and function in pets.
Magic Got Samples!
I delayed blogging about this until I received promised information from ProPlan brand manager Lisa Pacatte. She kindly sent me a Bright Mind Trial Program kit last week. It included coupons to try the food, which I purchased at PetsMart, and instructions about how to transition Magic to the new diet, and ways to document any potential changes. Oh, and Magic is DELIGHTED to get to try out new food–the small sample I brought home from the Better With Pets summit has already been gobbled up like treats. Note: it’s important to transition your dog to any new food to avoid potential upset tummies.
DOG BRAIN HEALTH & BRIGHT MIND?
Aging is a type of biological rust, but feeding the body correctly offers protection and, dare I say, a type of beneficial oil that keeps all the gadgets moving smoothly, including the brain. The brain is primarily fueled with glucose but by about age seven, the glucose metabolism in the brain begins to change.
These changes can be very subtle to more noticeable, depending on the individual dog. In general terms, though, this can affect memory, learning, awareness, and/or decision-making. You might notice your older dog isn’t quite as “mentally spry” as in the past, or his youthful prompt response to requests now take longer to process and achieve.
Antioxidants & Brain “Rust”
Studies have shown that adjusting the nutrient profiles in pet food–adding antioxidants, for example–can have a beneficial or protective effect on brain function. Since 2003, Purina has sought to find an additional energy source for the brain that could be more easily and efficiently metabolized than glucose. By providing this additional energy supply, scientists hoped the brain would function in a more youthful fashion.
Triglicerides are the building blocks of fats, but different kinds of fat include different types of triglycerides. When specific kinds of triglicerides (from palm kernel oil and coconut oil) were modified to consist primarily of medium-chain triglyceride vegetable oil (MCTs), they transformed into a highly effective energy source for the brain cells or neurons. In effect, “feeding the brain” appropriately with MCTs appears to slow brain aging or even turn back the clock for dogs, improving interaction with owners, interest in playing, and ability to adapt and cope with change.
Keeping Dogs Happy & Connected
Dogs in the Purina Bright Mind feeding study showed changes in their cognitive abilities in as little as thirty days. Scientists measured the dogs’ ability to remember things–finding a hidden toy, for example–as well as ability to learn new behaviors. Bright Mind not only addresses brain health with MCTs, it is also formulated for the needs of aging dogs to be highly digestible, with higher levels of antioxidants, and a bit less fat to reduce the potential “pudge” factor.
I’ll keep a log of Magic’s Bright Mind journey, and report back in thirty days or so. Meanwhile, I’m anxious for Seren to get her chance at a similar product, which I understand is already available in parts of Europe. Wouldn’t that be a nice 20th birthday present for Seren?
What about your pets–do you feed your senior dogs and cats differently? Why/why not? Have you noticed any changes in your pets’ mental acuity? If the MCTs work for pets, would you want to put it in your foods, too? Do tell!
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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!