A nutritional supplement formulated to support the brain functions of middle-aged cats and dogs will be added to selected Nestlé Purina products within 12 to 18 months, the pet food manufacturer reported Monday.
The supplement, called Brain Protection Blend, targets risk factors linked to brain aging. Containing fish oil, antioxidants and an amino acid known as arginine, it is designed to be fed when a pet is middle-aged.
A Nestlé Purina study of how Brain Protection Blend benefits dogs will be published in coming weeks, the company stated.
Nearly 30 percent of cats aged 11 to 14 show signs of cognitive decline, including memory loss and reduced social interaction, Nestlé Purina noted. Among dogs, 28 percent of 11- and 12-year-olds and 68 percent of 15- and 16-year-olds show at least one sign of cognitive issues.
“By taking a more proactive approach, we may be able to slow the brain’s decline often experienced among pets as they get older,” said Dan Smith, Nestlé Purina’s vice president of research and development.
Nestlé Purina won’t be the first company to offer a proprietary pet food enhancer. For example, Blue Buffalo Co. adds LifeSource Bits, a blend of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, to dry food for cats and dogs in support of the animal’s immune system.
The Purina brands that will get the brain supplement were not announced. Among the company’s dog food lines are Pro Plan, Purina One and Veterinary Diets. Feline choices include Fancy Feast, Friskies and Beyond.
Nestlé Purina sees a large market for its enhanced foods, pointing to a 2014 survey that found that more than 37 percent of dog owners have a dog older than 7 years.
“Pet owners often associate their pet’s mobility problems to physical issues that come with old age without realizing that many of those issues actually stem from cognitive decline,” the company reported. “This can result in pets forgetting how to perform normal functions such as using a litterbox or finding a food bowl.”
People accept the need for additional nutrients in their own food, Smith said, “So it’s imperative that pet owners are aware of similar nutritional breakthroughs available for their pets that help slow the changes associated with aging.”