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Canine dementia and how dog care professionals help

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In a three-year study in Irvine, California, researchers found that keeping middle-aged dogs active with exercise, play, and socialising with other dogs can help prevent canine dementia. This not only keeps them physically fit but also plays a big role in keeping their brains sharp as they get older.

The study – conducted using middle aged Beagles – showed that activities like exercising, playing with toys, and socialising are crucial for the brain’s health, especially for protecting the ‘hippocampus’ part of the brain, which is vital for memory and often gets damaged as dogs age. Interestingly, dogs that were active and social had healthier brains than those just on Alzheimer’s medication, showing that being physically and socially active is key.

Professor Elizabeth Head from the University of California-Irvine touches on the emotional aspect: “Anyone who has ever had a pet dog knows how hard it is to watch them grow old and experience issues with memory, task performance, and thinking. It is unfortunate that aging is marked by worsened cognitive skills.”

Dog care experts are in the perfect position to use these insights. By continuing to provide these activities and also telling dog owners to do the same, they will help keep dogs mentally sharp and happy as they get older.

The study concludes with a hopeful message: “Ultimately, these findings suggest that, even for middle-aged dogs, social enrichment may be beneficial for neural health. We can therefore conclude that adopting a dog and offering it a loving home even when it is middle-aged may improve its longevity and benefit its health in old age. It doesn’t hurt to take this as a helpful pet-care tip with growing scientific support: playing with your dogs may be beneficial to their brain health.”

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