This study focused on the hypothesis that cognitive decline in aged dogs could be attenuated by dietary supplementation with a nutrient blend consisting of antioxidants, B vitamins, fish oil and l-arginine, referred to hereafter as the Brain Protection Blend (BPB). Baseline cognitive assessment before the start of treatment was used to establish cognitively equivalent control (10·464+2·33 kg) and treatment (12·118+3·386 kg) groups of aged dogs between 9·1 and 11·5 years of age and with body condition score of 5. After an initial wash-in period, all dogs were tested over a 6-month period on cognitive test protocols that assessed four phases of a landmark discrimination learning protocol, which assessed a spatial learning skill based on utilisation of external cues, and egocentric discrimination task, which assessed spatial learning based on internal body-centred cues. The BPB-supplemented group showed significantly better performance than the controls on the landmark 1 (P=0·0446) discrimination learning tasks, and on two egocentric discrimination reversal learning tasks (P=0·005 and P=0·01, respectively). The groups did not differ significantly (P>0·10) on the landmark zero discrimination task and the egocentric discrimination learning task. These results suggest beneficial effects are positively linked to task complexity. Many of the nutrients supplemented in the BPB diet were significantly higher in plasma, including arginine, α-tocopherol, DHA and EPA. These results indicate that long-term supplementation with the BPB can have cognition-improving effects and support the use of nutritional strategies in targeting brain ageing-associated risk factors as an intervention to delay cognitive ageing.
Keywords: BPB Brain Protection Blend; CDS cognitive dysfunction syndrome; DNMP delayed non-matching to position; Arginine: Antioxidants; B vitamins; Canine cognitive function; Fish oil.