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New Research Suggests That Playdates With Other Pups Can Help Dogs Ward Off Canine Dementia

annaav - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only, not the actual dogs

Dogs require plenty of exercise and playtime, not only for their physical well-being but also for their mental health. In fact, recent research suggests that activities such as exercising, socializing, playing, and learning are vital in warding off canine dementia.

Similar to people, a dog’s brain can decline with age, resulting in cognitive issues. However, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky and the University of California-Irvine shows that engaging in social and cognitive activities can safeguard dogs against the loss of neurons – or brain cells – and brain structure, both of which contribute to memory and cognitive problems.

The research monitored alterations in the brain structure of middle-aged beagles over three years, focusing on those engaged in social enrichment activities. These activities encompassed exercise, socializing, playing with toys, and unrestricted play with peers of the same gender.

During the research period, the scientists assessed the cognitive abilities of the beagles. They also looked into brain areas associated with cognitive functions and found that the hippocampus, a region especially susceptible to neuron death and structural decline due to aging, saw an increase in volume across all participating beagles.

Additionally, the team further examined two sets of dogs undergoing social enrichment activities, with one group receiving an FDA-approved Alzheimer’s medication and the other a potential preclinical treatment for the disease.

These groups displayed no notable differences in outcomes compared to those engaged in social enrichment alone, highlighting the importance of physical activity in reducing neuron loss in key brain regions responsible for memory.

So, the researchers believe that their results carry important implications for human Alzheimer’s patients, pointing to the advantages of social enrichment. In essence, maintaining an active lifestyle and keeping the brain engaged could be the most effective strategy for staving off Alzheimer’s disease.

“Because age-related brain changes and cognitive decline are similar between dogs and people, dogs are a useful model to study treatments for diseases that quicken neuron death and cognitive decline, like Alzheimer’s,” explained Christopher Norris, a professor at the University of Kentucky.

“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,” added Elizabeth Head, a professor at the University of California-Irvine.

annaav – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only, not the actual dogs

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