The Research: Why Your Dog Needs Enrichment

HALF OF DOGS OVER AGE 10 REPORT SIGNS OF COGNITIVE DYSFUNCTION

Clinical signs of cognitive dysfunction include disorientation, social interactions, sleep-wake cycle disturbances, house soiling, activity changes such as apathy or aimless wandering and increased anxiety. 1

ENRICHMENT MAY STAVE OFF COGNITIVE DECLINE

And even improve cognition in those already starting to slope downward. Enrichment has unique effects that cannot be attained through nutritional interventions alone. 2

ENRICHMENT IS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN ANTIOXIDANT SUPPLEMENTS

In one study, older dogs receiving environmental enrichment plus an antioxidant diet showed the most improved cognitive scores, while environmental enrichment alone improved scores more than the group given the dietary treatment without enrichment. 3

THE EARLIER THE BETTER

Evidence suggests that enrichment may make the most impact if started in median-aged animals. 4

 
Research:
1. Landsberg GM, Nichol J, Araujo JA. Cognitive dysfunction syndrome: a disease of canine and feline brain aging. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 2012;42:749-768.
2. Landsberg GM, DePorter T, Araujo JA. Clinical signs and management of anxiety, sleeplessness, and cognitive dysfunction in the senior pet. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 2011;41:565-590.
3. Milgram NW, Head E, Zicker SC, et al. Long-term treatment with antioxidants and a program of behavioral enrichment reduces age-dependent impairment in discrimination and reversal learning in beagle dogs. Exp Gerontol 2004;39:753-765.
4. Freret T, Billard JM, Schumann-Bard P, et al. Rescue of cognitive aging by long-lasting environmental enrichment exposure initiated before median lifespan. Neurobiol Aging 2012;33:1005.e1-1005.e10.