Improve your dog's brain as it ages with cheap miracle supplements MCT, Apoaequorin
That is why I was amazed to read these two papers that provide potentially simple solutions.
Paper One highlights the value of " Medium Chain Triglyceride Supplementation"
The experiments were apparently created because of "significant changes in both physical and behavioural parameters as dogs" but more precisely the financial burden caused to owners of working dogs. Surely your companion pet won't be daily required to use as many problem solving skills that these skilful herders use, but none the less, keeping your dog sane well into old age should be a goal of every owner.
In fact they pin point the changes in brain metabolism in dogs as they age, to be caused by decreases in glucose metabolism which may contribute to the development and progression of cognitive impairment.
The whole premise of this research, and 'fix' is that "Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) can be used by neurons as an alternative energy source to alleviate the deficits in glucose metabolism and help to maintain normal brain functions."
Apparently in vet circles this treatment has been known for a long time, but what about pre treatment of younger healthy dogs? And how well has this theory been tested?
THE DOG BRAIN EXPERIMENT
"MCT supplementation on cognition in aged dogs. Twenty-four dogs between 7.5 and 11.6 yr of age were randomized into two groups based on baseline cognitive scores, initial age and gender."
So these 24 dogs did the same tests before and afterwards, with the only difference being that 'control dogs' were fed regular dry dog food and MCT dogs where fed the same dry food PLUS 5.5% MCTs.
The dog food had the following analysis: 32% protein, 19% fat; 3% fiber. The dogs were fed once daily and provided free access to water during the 240 day study. They also had toys, good beds, were socialised regularly, essentially all the things that good dog owners provide.
DOG BRAIN TESTING:
Blood ß-HB levels (the chemical that MCT converts to in the body) & blood samples were collected 2-hours post feeding for the evaluation of ß-HB, CBC and clinical chemistry panels prior to the start of the study, at day 120 and at day 240.
Specifically the THREE cognitive assessment protocols (Pan et al., 2010) were:
1st protocol, the landmark test, assessed spatial discrimination learning, memory, and visualspatial attention.
2 protocal, egocentric test was used to assess the effects of MCT supplementation on spatial memory, executive functions, and concept learning in the dogs.
3rd protocol: four-choice oddity discrimination test was used to assess the effects of MCT supplementation on attention, and concept learning in the dogs
MCT experiment RESULTS
The MCT diet significantly increased blood ßHB (p > 0.05) in the dogs. Suggesting that this vital brain nutrient was available to the brain for energy.
It was also shown that the MCT dogs performed statistically significantly better on "spatial memory and discrimination tests as well as memory, concept learning and attention tests."
One very surprising result was that the MCT-fed dogs "performed (even comparatively better) as cognitive task difficulty increased."
MCT, HOW IT WORKS
What the scientists/ nutritionists are trying to do is counteract the "deficits in cerebral glucose metabolism by nutritional supplementation." The medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are said to be used to increase brain levels of metabolites which serve as alternative brain energy sources." No energy to the brain, means the brain starves, and withers.
" MCTs are converted to ß-hydroxybutyrate (ßHB) and acetoacetate in the liver and, to a lesser extent, by astrocytes in the brain. These metabolites could then be used by neurons as an alternative energy source to alleviate the deficit in glucose metabolism." You may also note that this is not just relevant to dogs, it has been shown that improvement in cognitive functions of human Alzheimer's patients can occur too.
MCT THERAPY - WHEN SHOULD YOU START WITH YOUR DOG?
"London et al. (1983) reported that brain glucose metabolism in dogs was significantly reduced at 6 years when compared to one year old dogs."
The paper suggests that while you may easily be able to tell a dog is ageing by its coat, its endurance or teeth condition, brain ageing is much more subtle. And by the time that you are aware that damage has been done, it is often much more difficult to treat.
" MCT supplementation may slow the progression of cognitive impairment in aging dogs and though (their) study was intended to address slowing the inevitable cognitive decline of health aging dogs, it is possible that a diet supplemented with MCTs will have positive effects on dogs with mild to moderate canine cognitive disorder as well."
WHERE DO I GET THEM
MCT's apparently come under a vast variety of names:
1,2,3-Propanetriol Trioctanoate, AC-1202, Acide Caprique, Acide Caproïque, Acide Caprylique, Acide Laurique, Capric Acid, Caproic Acid, Caprylic Acid, Caprylic Triglycerides, Lauric Acid, MCT, MCT's, MCTs, Medium-Chain Triacylglycerols
They are also "partially man-made fats" MCTs are usually created by processing coconut and palm kernel oils By comparison, dietary fats are long-chain triglycerides.
So the real answer is probably you would get guidance from a vet, or buy them from a trusted dog supplement company so that you provide your dog with the right amount.
PART TWO - The value of Apoaequorin in aged dogs cognitive functions
This second study appears to be more experimental (less known and in need of verification) than the first study. Apoaequorin is a protein naturally found in jellyfish.
Apoaequorin is a calcium buffering protein that is believed to provide neuro-protection against aging, and so have positive effects in improving signs of brain aging.
DOG TEST METHOD
24 beagles greater than 9 years of age, were divided into control (no Apoaequorin) , low or high dose groups. The tests used were:
object discrimination learning task,
a visual search task that assessed attention
a test of visuo-spatial memory.
DOG TEST RESULTS
OVERALL, more accurate discrimination learning was found in the dosed dogs than the control group. It was also found that the difference between the low & control group was statistically significant.
For the 'visual search task', the dogs were presented one positive object VERSUS one, two or three identical negative objects that served as distractors. The control group performed worse than the low and high dosage groups, with the most significant improvement for the dosed groups when the number of distractors were lowest (1 or 2). For instance the high dosage group performed much better than the control (p=0.02) with two distractors.
Speed of responding to the task was only mildly improved with dosage. The spatial memory task showed the least difference between all three dog groups.
The experimenters conclusions were that " daily administration of apoaequorin has beneficial effects on learning (i.e. discrimination task) and attention (i.e. visual search task). High dose dogs performed better than the other two groups on the visual search task. All of the dogs tested in the study were aged, and showed some degree of cognitive impairment. Thus, apoaequorin may be a useful therapeutic for treatment of age-associated cognitive dysfunction."
With the small number of test subjects 24, it is imagined that more testing would need to be performed to confirm these results and the full extent of improvement. However if the cost of apoaequorin is low, then perhaps (with vet agreement) the addition of MCT's and apoaequorin may have some benefit for your dog as it ages.
Article by Bruce Dwyer. If you wish to use any of this information please use a LINK reference to http://www.dogwalkersmelbourne.com.au
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REF 1 - Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks… It Is Possible With The Help of Medium Chain Triglyceride Supplementation! J. Cline et al Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Scarbourough, Canada
REF 2 - Dietary supplementation with medium-chain TAG has long-lasting cognition-enhancing effects in aged dogs. Pan Y et al Nestlé Purina Research, St Louis, MO 63164, USA