Taking your pup for more walks could prevent dog dementia, study finds

Reduced activity levels have been linked to canine cognitive dysfunction

<p>Fluffy cocker spaniel on a walk with its owner</p>

Fluffy cocker spaniel on a walk with its owner

Leer en Español

Regularly walking your dog could protect its brain against dementia, a new study suggests.

Dogs who have little physical activity are more than six times more likely to develop canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), a condition related to the aging of a dog’s brain which leads to memory loss.

Research from the University of Washington, which examined 15,000 dogs between October 2020 and December 2020, found that CCD was more likely to develop in pets as they got older.

But an inverse association between activity level and CCD was also identified in dogs whose owners indicated higher activity levels over the past year.

The study found that the odds of CCD were 6.47 times higher in inactive dogs compared to those who were very active.

Symptoms of CCD in dogs are similar to those experienced by humans with Alzheimer’s disease. These include disorientation, confusion, disturbed sleep and changes in mood.

The findings are in line with previous research on rodents which found that exercise can have protective effects against the development of biological markers characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.

The latest study’s author, Sarah Yarborough, said the observations could be the result of the effect exercise has on the brain.

This includes a “reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the brain that otherwise contribute to neural damage”.

“The reduced odds of CCD among more active dogs in our cohort may be a result of these same mechanisms,” she added.

Another study, published in the Science Daily journal in March, found that exercise also boosts blood flow to the brain, which may help slow the onset of memory loss and dementia.

The study – which observed 70 adults over the age of 55 who have been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (an early stage of dementia) – asked half of the group to exercise three to five times a week for a year.

In those who exercised, researchers found an increase in the overall blood flow to the brain.

“There is still a lot we don’t know about the effects of exercise on cognitive decline later in life,” Munro Cullum, a professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical Center and co-author of the paper, said.

“MCI and dementia are likely to be influenced by a complex interplay of many factors, and we think that, at least for some people, exercise is one of those factors,” he added.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in