Diets can have a huge effect on your pet’s body and long term health. They rely primarily on the amount of vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and proteins present in their diets. Not only are these key ingredients important, but they can significantly increase your pet’s overall neurological health and, in theory, help prolong their life.
Neurological health is vital to dogs and cats of all breeds and ages. A few symptoms to be aware of that typically come with age are problems with balance, loss of muscle mass, head tilt, difficulties walking, seizures, and weaker reflexes. These are all signs of possible underlying neurological issues and should be addressed sooner rather than later. We always want to be proactive instead of reactive (read more about our services and recommendations for senior pets here). An easy place to start is with a nutritiously balanced brain healthy diet.
The first key ingredients to look for when talking about your pet’s neurological health are vitamins. Lots and lots of vitamins! Most pet foods will already contain some vitamins, so be sure to check the label on your pet’s food so see what is included. But if you’re looking to use a separate supplement in addition to what is already in the food, be sure to check with your veterinarian about the concentrations beforehand.
Some Key Vitamins and Their Functions:
Vitamin A: Aids in optimal retinol function and skin improvement
Vitamin D: Used to help regulate phosphorus and calcium levels for optimal growth
Vitamin E: Used to help fight oxidation in cells, protect against heart disease, cataracts, and other various neurological diseases
Vitamin B1: Helps regulate thiamine levels
Vitamin B2: Responsible for metabolizing fats and carbs into energy
Vitamin B5: Also used in metabolizing energy
Vitamin B6: Responsible for glucose generation, healthy nervous system function, and hormone regulation
Vitamin B12: Helps aid in a healthy nervous system function, brain functions, and new cell growth
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Another key ingredient that is linked to neurological health in cats and dogs are Omega-3 Fatty Acids (aka “Lipids”). Fatty acids can be found primarily in marine sources such as phytoplankton or fish oil. Similar to vitamins, fatty acids have numerous health benefits.
These benefits include: Modulating inflammation, aiding in fat soluble vitamin absorption, providing energy, promoting growth, promoting healthy skin and a healthy coat, and supporting joint and cartilage health.
Our beloved pets cannot provide the appropriate amount of fatty acids that their bodies require on their own. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are essential in overall health regardless of the neurological benefits.
The last key ingredient is protein. Proteins play several important roles in your pet’s body such as building and repairing muscles and tissues, along with growing new cells. The most common proteins are found in various meats, dairy products, some grains, legumes, and eggs. Our pets can store protein just like fat, so it is vital to supply it in their daily diets. Pets that are larger in size, or tend to be more active, may require a higher protein diet due to energy being used more frequently. The amount of protein needed varies depending on your pet’s lifestyle, breed, size, and activity levels.
That’s a lot of things to consider, we know. What happened to just picking up a bag of food? But feeding the correct diet is very important, especially when it comes to our older pets! Always be sure to read the labels and understand what your pet’s food contains. When in doubt, ask your veterinarian for their recommendations. There are several prescription and over the counter diets available for both dogs and cats that are formulated with neurological health in mind.
Purina Pro Plan Neurocare – Contains EPA, DHA, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and high protein levels. Can help treat idiopathic epilepsy along with medications, can also help treat Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. For puppies, adults, and senior dogs. Dry formula only. Requires prescription.
Hill’s b/d Brain Aging Care – Contains antioxidants to help protect brain cells as well has support a healthy immune system. Has high levels of L-Carnitine to help preserve muscle mass. Also contains Omega-3 Fatty Acids for cell membrane health. Low sodium to help the heart as well. Dry formula only. Requires prescription.
Royal Canin Mature Consult – Powerful antioxidants neutralize free radicals, support brain function, and protect against cell aging. Also contains specialized amino acids to help maintain muscle mass. Available in both dry and canned formulas. Requires prescription.
Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind – Contains enhanced botanical oils to promote alertness and mental sharpness. EPA, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Glucosamine for joint care. Available for adults and seniors. Dry and canned formulas in various flavors available.
Purina Pro Plan Focus – High in protein and fiber. Contains Omega-3, Omega-6, as well as DHA for healthy brain development. Available for both puppies and adults. Dry and canned formulas in various flavors available.
Royal Canin Mature Consult – Reduced phosphorus content to help with kidney function, L-Carnitine to help preserve muscle mass. ETA, DHA, EPA, and antioxidants. For mature cats only. Available in both dry and canned formulas. Requires prescription.
Purina Pro Plan Focus Kitten – DHA for brain and vision development, rich in antioxidants for a healthy immune system. For kittens under one year old. Available in dry and canned formulas.
Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult – Omega-6, vitamins, linoleic acids for skin health. Antioxidants and natural fibers to help prevent hairballs. For cats one year and older. Dry and canned formulas in various flavors available.
Pruina Pro Plan Prime Plus – Formulated with vitamins and Omega-3s to help improve digestive health, support a healthy immune system, and to help maintain lean body mass. For cats 7 years and older. Dry and canned formulas in various flavors available.
Always consult with your veterinarian first before switching your pet’s diet or adding on a supplement, especially if your pet has other health issues to consider. For example, pets that are having kidney issues or are in renal failure should not be on a high protein diet.
No one likes to see their pets get older, but there are things that you can do to help! Who would’ve thought something as simple as a diet change could make all the difference?
By: Cecilia Cardenas