Food for Thought: What the Ultimate

Organ Needs to Stay Healthy


Does your pet companion have a hard time staying focused, have behavioral issues, mood swings and/or is always on edge in new environments or around new animals/people? Their diet could be having a negative effect on their cognitive skills. Many doting pet owners spend a lot of time thinking about their pet companions health; digestive tract, bones, skin, kidney & liver function and even joints — with good cause. Your pets organs, immune system and ability to regenerate cells are critical to their maintaining optimal health and life extension. But how often do you think about how to nourish your pet's most important organ — their brain? The brain is the seat of your pet's consciousness. It governs their capacity to think, learn, reason, and remember; it’s also the control center for virtually every other bodily process that we have. And, not surprisingly, it’s an organ that requires excellent nutrition to function at top capacity.



Most pet parents probably spend more time thinking about whether their pet food contains the right amount of meat, enough fiber for their GI tract,  rather than thinking about if their pet is getting enough omega 3 & 6 fatty acids & vitamins B & D for their brain cells, nerve development, and cognitive functions. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that what we do for our pets' brain now can have a big impact on how our pets learn impulse control, delayed gratification and other life skills needed to function properly in their new world.


Keeping the brain healthy and well-nourished is a task that should be high on your priority list. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that what we do for our pet's brain now can have a big impact on how it functions in the years to come. Eating well in the present, along with other healthy lifestyle choices can keep the brain hopping along well now and stave off age-related problems in the future, like cognitive decline and emotional instability.


When our dogs feel mentally sluggish, foggy, unable to concentrate, and slightly nervous, there is a good chance that what they are eating is to blame. It is all too easy to be deficient in some of the nutrients the brain needs to work at top capacity, especially if the pet is eating processed food, an unbalance raw diet or is under stress.  Nutritional imbalances and/or deficiencies can affect our pets mentally, leading to a number of cognitive problems and even to states like anxiety, aggression and depression.


It's a good idea to become familiar with the brain-friendly nutritional benefits provided by omega-3 fatty acids, the B family of vitamins, vitamin D, and the now-famous phytochemicals, which are plant-derived compounds that act as antioxidants. These compounds provide a laundry list of health benefits to your companion's body and brain.


Pet Nutrition Systems would like you to become aware of two types of phytochemicals. One is the flavonoid family, which includes compounds found in berries and fruits. The other is a compound you may not have heard of – curcumin, which is found in a common Indian spice and offers major protection to the aging brain.


Whole Foods Provide Brain-Boosting Powers. The healthy fats, omega-3s and omega-6s, are excellent – and necessary – for brain health. Fatty acids play a big part in cardiovascular health. What many people don’t know is that they also play several essential roles in their pet's brain function. Deficiencies or excessive amounts can affect your pet mentally, leading to a number of cognitive problems and even to states like anxiety, depression and/or aggression.


The two chief omega-3 fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and an essential omega-6 is linoleic acid (LA). Omega fatty acids are essential building blocks for the cell membrane of brain cells. They can affect the permeability of the cell membrane at the synapse, the point where brain cells – or neurons – interact with one another and exchange neurotransmitters. The synapse is the heart of neural communication, and, very likely, human thought. When omega-3s and -6s enhance permeability at the synapse (so that compounds are more easily transferred from brain cell to brain cell), they can have a big effect on cognition. 


Here at PNS Pet Nutrition Clinic, we help clients treat canine and feline mood, cognitive and social disorders. Our research focuses on how omega fatty acids affect your pet's mental health and how their deficiency may lead to mood disorders. Omega-3 fatty acids help the brain communicate using the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, powerful players in the regulation of mood. (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Prozac are common antidepressants and work by helping keep serotonin more available to the brain and nervous system.


Many noted studies have shown omega fatty acids reduce inflammation in the brain – just as they do in the rest of the body. Another way omega-3s may act in the brain is to enhance the production of bone-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which, through a cascade of events, ultimately stimulates the cell processes that are central in learning and memory.


So what happens if your companion's diet does not contain enough omega-3 fats? Since the body is not very good at manufacturing the chief omega, DHA, it’s possible to become deficient in this compound. On the more severe end of the spectrum, DHA-deficiency is associated with disorders like depression, exhibit ADHD like behavior, unexplained aggression, destructive behavior, etc.,  


Our 15 + years of clinical experience have taught us when dogs and cats are deprived of bioavailable omega-3s we have seen reduced synapse formation, impaired learning ability, and increased aggressive, depressive and anxious behaviors." Omegas also seem to ward off the cognitive decline that often comes with age. 


Luckily, once you're aware of the importance of the omegas 3 & 6 and vitamins B & D, it’s fairly easy to feed them to your pet in a properly designed diet made from whole foods. Omegas are found in fatty fish like salmon and sardines, and vitamin B & D are found in many fruits and vegetables. 


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