You can teach old dogs new tricks.
The trick to boosting the geriatric canine’s mental capacity, is in its dinner bowl.
If it is good for old dogs, could it be good for you too ?
The yellow peg trick or treat
Most dogs have no trouble sniffing out a foodie treat, but locating a foodie treat without the usual whiffs, is a lot more complicated.
The researchers attempted to teach a group of old dogs to locate foodie treats that had been “doctored” a little, so they no longer gave off foodie scents. The “doctored” foodie treats were always “hidden” at a yellow wooden marker.
The old dogs, a group of closely “related” beagles, all received trick or treat training, over several weeks. Some of the dogs were just eating standard dog blocks, a few, were getting a little something extra in the form of a dietary supplement of acetyl-L-carnitine and lipoic acid.
Not all of the dogs were smart enough to find the hidden treats but, those taking the supplement performed better than those just eating dog food.
After quite a bit of training, 15 weeks to be precise. 80 % of the dogs taking the supplement could pull off the trick, while only 50 % of the dogs not taking the supplement could get it right.
Brainy dogs and better mitochondria
Both acetyl-L-carnitine and lipoic acid are considered to be anti-oxidants, in the lab at least, the chemicals help boost mitochondria functioning.
Burnt out mitochondria are implicated in the process of aging. The researchers speculate that the brain boosting benefits seen with the supplements is due to better mitochondrial chemistry.
Better mitochondrial chemistry translates into more energy in the cell and less oxygen radicals. Fewer oxygen radicals means less oxidative damage, less damage leads to better thinking because nerves are in better shape.
Does this mean you should be giving Fido supplements. Probably not.
Carnitine (ß-hydroxy-?-N-trimethylaminobutyric acid) is widely distributed in food from animal sources and can easily be obtained from the diet. Plant foods have very little so animal protein is important. Remember dogs are designed to be carnivores not vegans or grain dogs.
If Fido is not thinking clearly, maybe it is time for a change in the brand of dog biscuits you’re giving him or make his day, with the occasionally real meat treat, full of carnitine.
Dial down stress
Better mitochondrial chemistry boils down to dialling down stress, specifically oxidative stress.
Supplementing with anti-oxidants, such as acetyl-L-carnitine will help minimize the damage produced by oxidative stress, but before you add another set of pills to your regimen, work on creating a little less oxidative stress by watching what you eat and keeping your fat cells in check.
If you really need a brain lift, try “The bad habit that helps people in the habit of forgetting things “.You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks – With the Right Diet - press release from Oregon State University.
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