A new study in older companion dogs found that problem-solving, sociability, audacity and addiction decrease with age and reported no associations between an enriched diet, lifelong training experiences, and measures of behavior and cognition after a one-year diet period. A team of researchers from the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria, and the University of Liverpool, UK, presents these results in the open access journal PLOS ONE on September 1
Like humans, dogs can experience cognitive decline and behavioral changes as they age. For example, they may show less curiosity for new objects and show a decline in social reactivity, memory and attention. Also, like humans, individual dogs vary in rates of cognitive decline. Some research suggests that lifelong training and an enriched diet could slow cognitive aging in dogs. However, few studies have explored aging in companion dogs, as opposed to dogs in laboratory settings.
To better understand aging in companion dogs, the authors assigned 119 companion dogs – over 6 years of age and of different breeds – to receive an enriched diet (including nutrients such as antioxidants, omega fatty acids, phosphatidylserine and tryptophan). or a control diet over the course of a year. They also asked dog owners to report their pets’ previous training experiences. After a year of dietary treatment, the researchers evaluated the dogs’ cognition and behaviors in a newly developed test battery known as the Modified Vienna Canine Cognitive Battery (MVCCB).
Analyzes showed that, overall, senior dogs experienced a decline in four of the six total factors addressed by the MVCCB: problem solving, sociability, audacity and addiction. The other two factors, trainability and activity independence, showed no change with age. Previous training experiences and an enriched diet did not show any significant association with the cognitive declines observed.
These findings suggest that more research is needed to determine if and how training and diet could affect aging in companion dogs. The authors point out that the MVCCB could be a useful tool for detecting age-related changes in dogs for future research.
Adds author Durga Chapagain: “The modified Vienna canine cognitive battery can be used as a tool to determine behavioral changes and cognitive deficits in older dogs.”
Risk factors for heatstroke in UK dogs
Chapagain D, Wallis LJ, Range F, Affenzeller N, Serra J, Virányi Z (2020) Behavioral and cognitive changes in older companion dogs: no effects of enriched diet and lifelong training. PLoS ONE 15 (9): e0238517. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0238517
Previous diet and training show no impact on cognitive decline in older companion dogs (2020, September 16)
recovered on September 17, 2020
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any correct behavior for private study or research purposes, no
part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.