Diet and pre-training show no effect on cognitive decline in aging pet dogs


Diet and pre-training have shown no effect on cognitive decline in aging pet dogs. Credit: Clever Dog Lab, Maserli Research Institute, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria

A new study of older pet dogs found that problem solving, concordance with age, decline in boldness and dependence, and a rich diet, between lifelong training experiences and measures of behavior and cognition, led to a one-year dietary period. Afterwards there was no consistency. A team of researchers from the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria and University of Liverpool, UK presented these findings in the open-access journal one more On September 16, 2020.


Like humans, dogs can also experience cognitive decline and behavioral changes as they age. For example, they may display less curiosity about novel objects and show declines in social accountability, memory, and attention. Like humans, individual dogs also differ in the rate of cognitive decline. Some research suggests that lifelong training and a rich diet can slow cognitive age in dogs. However, few studies have detected aging in pet dogs, as opposed to dogs in laboratory settings.

To better understand aging in pet dogs, the authors assigned 119 pet dogs – aged 6 years and different breeds – to either obtain a rich diet (antioxidants, omega-fatty acids, Including nutrients such as phosphatidylserine and tryptophan) or a control diet over the course of a year. They asked dog owners to report their pets’ previous training experiences. After a year of dietary treatment, the researchers evaluated the cognition and behaviors of the dogs as a test in a newly developed battery known as the Modified Vienna Canine Cognitive Battery (MVCCB).

The analysis showed that in general, aging dogs experienced a decline in four of the total six factors addressed by the MVCCB: problem solving, sociality, courage, and dependence. Two other factors, training and activity-independence, showed no change with age. Previous training experiences and an enriched diet showed no significant association with observed cognitive decline.

These findings suggest that additional research is needed to determine whether training and diet may have an effect on aging in pet dogs. The authors highlight that MVCCB may be a useful tool for future research to detect age-related changes in dogs.

Writer Durga Chapagain says: “The modified Vienna canine cognitive battery can be used as a tool to determine behavioral changes and cognitive deficits in elderly dogs.”


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more information:
Chapagain D, Wallis LJ, Range F, Effengeler N, Serra J, Virani Z (2020) Behavior and cognitive changes in aged pet dogs: no effect of enriched diet and lifelong training. one more 15 (9): e0238517. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0238517

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