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no-brainer: dr. ernie ward dishes about boosting brain function with foods



Wish your kitty was more clever or your canine more canny? Feed their minds!  One of the keys to boosting brain function and maintaining mental acuity is to provide pets with healthy foods that reduce inflammation.

When it comes to mindful morsels, look no further than whole food sources. Offer your pets nutrient-rich wild-caught salmon, sardines or anchovies as a nibble instead of processed treats, which fall short on providing proper nutrition. Most dogs love raw veggies and fruits; brain-boosting treats such as carrots, blueberries, watermelon and broccoli are always wise snack choices. If you have the time and like to cook, offering pets a weekly home-prepared meal of organic whole foods can also go far in maintaining a healthy mind.   

Adding nutritional supplements to your pet’s health plan can help keep your best friend’s grey matter great well into their golden years. Some of my must-give supplements for senior pets include a daily omega-3 fatty acid supplement such as Nordic Naturals Pets or Welactin. Omega-3’s, especially DHA, reduce inflammation and have been shown to enhance brain power in both the young and old. Coenzyme Q10 is another potent anti-inflammatory that should be part of your senior pet’s daily diet.

An exciting new nutraceutical that shows tremendous promise for aging pets experiencing early signs of mental decline is Neutricks, an amazing compound that has been shown to improve cognitive function in dogs. Neutricks works by helping reduce brain cell death – which is always a good thing. SAM-e and alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) are also excellent additions for older pets. Talk to your veterinarian about which supplements are best for your pet. Because the brain is undoubtedly the most complex organ in the body, a multi-modal approach is best.

In addition to diet, a healthy lifestyle is also essential for keeping your pet’s mental abilities sharp as he ages; daily exercise and brain health go hand in hand. Just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise can reduce inflammation and reset vital brain chemicals. Playing brain games also helps get synapses firing; stimulate your pet with puzzle toys, games and by teaching them new tricks. The brain is like any muscle in your body – use it or lose it!

Keeping pets fit from the start and feeding them wisely will help them age gracefully. The lifestyle you choose and sustain for your pet is perhaps the single biggest factor in keeping brain diseases at bay. Talk to your vet about food and supplements that will benefit your individual pet, so he will be sharp as a tack for years to come!   

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Chris AshtonCo-Founder and Co-CEO of Petplan Pet Insurance
vet tip of the week

Visit your vet at least once a year to keep your pet protected from preventable diseases.