Science Says: You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

October 25th, 2007 by Aileen


It started way back in 2002, when researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University discovered some Compounds That Rejuvenate Rats, May Aid Humans. Actually, it was a combination of dietary supplements that dramatically improved the activity, energy level and cognitive function of old lab rats. The micro-nutrient compounds were identified as acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid.

Lipoic acid comes naturally in organ meats as well as spinach, broccoli and potatoes. Acetylcarnitine is found in red meats, milk, fish and chicken. Best vegetable sources are avacado, whole wheat and asparagus.

By 2005 the NIH and National Institute on Aging were reporting that Diet, Exercise, Stimulating Environment Helps Old Dogs Learn. That study focused on beagles, and the same antioxidant supplements were added to their diet to cause significant rejuvenate behaviors in the dogs. The study had been ongoing for two years.

“…older beagles performed better on cognitive tests and were more likely to learn new tasks when they were fed a diet fortified with plenty of fruits, vegetables and vitamins, were exercised at least twice weekly, and were given the opportunity to play with other dogs and a variety of stimulating toys.”

Of course, the reasons why scientific researchers would go from rats to dogs in an effort to find out what might work best for people makes perfect sense, even to us non-scientific dog-lover types…

“…Like humans, dogs engage in complex cognitive strategies and have a more complicated brain structure than many other animals. Dogs also process dietary nutrients in ways similar to humans. And like people, dogs are susceptible to age-related declines in learning andmemory, and can develop neuropathology similar to Alzheimer’s disease.”

As if we didn’t know. Anyway, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology reported just today (September 27) that yes, You Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks — With The Right Diet.

It’s those same rat-researchers at Linus Pauling Institute, joining the University of Toronto, the University of California/Berkeley, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute and a company (who thought someone wouldn’t want to market this?) called Juvenon, Inc. It’s the same acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid too.

Findings showed that these supplements (available on the health/nutrition market right now for humans and dogs) – believed to play a role in slowing mitochondrial decay in cells – significantly increase the ability of ‘geriatric’ beagles to learn new tricks.

It’s definitely something to ask your vet about if your dog is getting on in years.


You Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks — With The Right Diet

Wikipedia: Acetylcarnitine

Wikipedia: Lipoic acid

2 Responses to “Science Says: You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks”

  1. louanne studer Says:

    Can you buy that supplement at the store?

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