Neuro Care and understanding brain nutrition
I had a wonderful conversation yesterday with a concerned dog owner, about her epileptic dog. Neuro Care diet by Purina had been prescribed by her veterinarian and she was seeking mor information about the benefits of this diet. She read my blog post at drsophiayin.com when Neuro Care was released and wondered if this diet was just a gimmick or a real benefit. This woman’s dog was having repeated seizures despite anticonvulsant medication adjustment, screening tests and other therapies. The dog’s seizures ranged from mild to severe and were increasing in frequency despite additional anti -convulsant medication. She wanted to help her dog and do what was best, but could a diet really make a difference?
I assured her that this was not at all a gimmick but a very effective product to reduce seizure activity in the brain. The benefit comes through specific brain boosting nutrition, specially formulated for the aged, or seizure disordered brain. While I could not discuss her dog’s particular case, ( I have never examined her pet nor was I a referral from her veterinarian) I did share the facts of how the blend of nutrients in this diet creates improved brain cellular health. The specific blend of nutrients helps the brain cells to create a better balance of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are the various chemicals secreted by brain cells, that control the speed of signals between cells. With better neurotransmitter balance, there is reduced seizure activity. There are multiple neurotransmitters that control brain activity, and this diet has a positive effect on helping cells create a better balance and response. I personally have had cases of epileptic dogs, who were not controlled by medication alone, and had significantly fewer seizures once this diet was added to the medication plan. For some, the dosages of anti -convulsant medication was reduced provided they stayed on the diet.
Anxiety, less social interaction, and reduced interaction with the environment (sniffing in the backyard, looking out the window) are signs associated with aging and cognitive decline (1). I have also witnessed the reduction of anxiety, increased playfulness and improved sleep in dogs who were on Neuro care. Aging also affects our cats. At present there is not a brain diet for the cat, yet there are many supplements and therapeutic diets that reduce health problems helping reduce the effects of brain aging.
A recently published article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association read here fully discusses the impact of body and brain aging and behavior and nutrition. Titled “Nutrition and the aging brain of dogs and cats” (2), this article is a wonderful guide to the age-related changes in brain structure and metabolism of dogs and cats. The article points out how body and brain aging alter brain function. Change in function changes cognition and behavior. What I really appreciated about this article is how the authors describe in straightforward terms, the metabolic needs of brain tissue, how that reduces with aging and as a result changes behavior. Cognition, the ability to learn and remember tasks, is behavior. Changes in house soiling, vocalization, social interaction, play and training are behavior changes. The article is a complete, concise review of the roles of ketones, medium chain tri glycerides, b vitamin, omega 3 fatty acid, and other micro-nutrients for cell function. Once you understand the nutritional needs and interaction of the brain, you understand the need for these nutrients. Now the veterinarian can integrate the knowledge of this animal’s balance of intestinal health, circulation, diet, brain function and aging. Neuro care is a diet created with this nutritional science and is helping many pets have a higher quality of life.
As a veterinarian who spent 35 years in general practice with a behavior niche, I appreciate the direct, concise style that this scientific article is written. It invites the veterinarian in, to read along and gain the information we need to help our aging patients. Some articles are written with so much research evidence, it is difficult to get to the meat of the info when you only have 5 – 10 minutes between appointments to read your journals. This article is written to be an easy reference, bringing the whole picture of brain aging, nutrition and behavior together. I hope all veterinarians and technicians refer to this article to build upon help for our aging patients.
As a behaviorist and a veterinarian, I see a disconnect of behavior body health from the public and our educational institutions. In practice, many veterinarians sense there is a connection, yet do not have the foundation of knowledge to bring this information to their clients. This is especially true when presented with aging pet behavior problems. Older pets may have anxiety, aggression or compulsion problems and often they are related to brain aging, physical pain, or organ problems. Keeping the brain and body together when considering health will always improve the behavior, and welfare of our patients. The brain and the body are not separate – they are interdependent.
I hope this dog’s seizures reduce with the diet. I suspect it will as that has been my clinical experience. It is important to have your veterinarian direct any changes in your pet’s diet. There are many supplement, diet and botanical options to provide an integrative approach to older pet care. The care must be customized to your pet’s health and your pet’s needs. Be sure to consult with a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about brain and body health.
The discipline of integrative medicine is growing in veterinary medicine. It includes nutrition, chiropractic, acupuncture, behavior, medication, diagnostic testing and environmental management. Most of this knowledge is gained after graduation, from seminars and continuing education programs and from practice experience. Ask your veterinarian what they offer in integrative care or who they may refer to. We are all in this together to help your companion animal.
Sally J Foote DVM, CABC-IAABC
- https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/healthcare/managing-dog-dementia-canine-cognitive-disorder accessed Feb 11, 2020
- May, K., Laflamme, D. Nutrition and the aging Brain Javma Dec 2019 vol 255 no 11 pg. 1245 – 1254
- Purina Neuro care direct https://www.proplanvetdirect.com/nc-neurocare?utm_campaign=vdp-branded2020&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_content=dog-unknown-unknown-feeding&utm_term=purina%20neurocare&gclid=CjwKCAiAvonyBRB7EiwAadauqfljgiiX9tce3I5PiZCaFcu4Dj9oNEEs9hpbM41ym-C1pA1kjHPrYBoCBIsQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds