A new study on older pet dogs found that problem solving, sociability, audacity and dependence decrease with age and did not report associations between an enriched diet, training experiences throughout the year. life 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, present these findings in the open access journal PLOS ONE on September 16, 2020.
Like humans, dogs can experience cognitive impairment and behavioral changes as they age. For example, they may show less curiosity about new objects and show decreased ability to respond socially, memory, and attention. Like humans, individual dogs vary in their rates of cognitive decline. Some research suggests that lifelong training and an enriched diet could slow the cognitive aging of dogs. However, few studies have explored aging in domestic dogs, compared to laboratory dogs.
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 diet control over a year. They also asked dog owners to report on their pets ’previous training experiences. After a year of dietary treatment, the researchers evaluated the cognition and behavior of the dogs in a newly developed test battery known as the Modified Vienna Canine Cognitive Battery (MVCCB).
Analyzes showed that, in general, aged dogs experienced decreases in four out of six factors addressed by the MVCCB: problem solving, sociability, boldness, and dependence. The other two factors, trainability and activity independence, showed no changes with age. Previous training experiences and an enriched diet showed no significant association with the observed cognitive impairments.
These findings suggest that further research is needed to determine whether training and diet can affect the aging of pet dogs. The authors point out that the MVCCB could be a useful tool for detecting age-related changes in dogs for future research.
Author Durga Chapagain adds: “The modified Vienna canine cognitive battery can be used as a tool to determine behavioral changes and cognitive deficits in older dogs.”
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Chapagain D, Wallis LJ, Range F, Affenzeller N, Serra J, Virányi Z (2020) Behavioral and Cognitive Changes in Aged Pet Dogs: No Effects of an Enriched Diet and Lifelong Training. PLOS ONE 15 (9): e0238517. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0238517
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Citation: Diet and Pre-Training Show No Impact on Cognitive Decline in Aged Pet Dogs (2020, September 16), Retrieved September 16, 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-09- diet-prior-impact-cognitive-decline. html
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