Taking your dog for lots of walks could stop it developing a canine form of dementia, study reveals 

Taking a lot of walks with your dog can prevent him from developing a canine form of dementia, a study shows

  • It has been found that pets that get very little exercise are more likely to develop dog dementia
  • A study of 15,000 dogs found that the chances of her having increased by 52 percent each year
  • The likelihood of dog dementia was 6.47 times higher in dogs that were not very active

Lots of walks with your dog could help keep his brain sharp, according to research.

It found that pets that were given very little exercise are more likely to develop a canine form of dementia known as cognitive cognitive dysfunction (CCD).

As with Alzheimer’s disease in humans, symptoms of CCD include learning and memory problems, loss of spatial awareness, and impaired sleep patterns.

The 15,000-dog study found that older pets were more likely to develop the disease, as expected: if all other traits were checked, the likelihood of a dog having the disease increased by 52 percent with each additional year of life.

However, when analyzing the activity level of the dogs, a link was also found.

Lots of walks your dog could help keep his brain sharp, according to research (stock image)

In dogs of the same breed, age, health, and sterilization status, inactive dogs were 6.47 times more likely to have CCD than very active dogs.

University of Washington researcher Sarah Yarborough, who conducted the study, said one of the ways exercise can benefit dogs’ brains is by reducing molecules called pro-inflammatory cytokines that cause damage.

She referred to previous laboratory studies in rats as well as observational studies in humans that “have consistently shown an inverse relationship between exercise and Alzheimer’s disease.”

“These observations may reflect a variety of biological mechanisms,” she said, “including a decrease in proinflammatory cytokines in the brain, which otherwise contribute to neuronal damage and death, and an increase in neuronal plasticity.” [the brain’s ability to change and adapt].

“The reduced risk of CCD in more active dogs in our cohort could be due to the same mechanisms.”

For the study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, Ms. Yarborough looked at data from 15,019 service dogs that are being followed long-term as part of the Dog Aging Project.

Owners were asked a number of questions about their dog, including 13 questions that assessed certain behaviors, such as:

In dogs of the same breed, age, health condition, and sterilization status, inactive dogs were 6.47 times more likely to have CCD than very active dogs (picture)

A dog was classified as having CCD as soon as it achieved a certain number of points.

Owners were also asked to indicate how active their dog has been over the past 12 months.

The study also found that pets with a history of neurological, eye, or ear diseases were around twice as likely to develop CCD at any age.

“CCD is a major health problem for dog owners and veterinarians,” wrote Ms. Yarborough in her research paper.

“A better understanding of CCD can help advance the treatment of cognitive disorders in dogs.”