Food for Thought: Key Ingredients to Brain Health in Dogs

Food for Thought: Key Ingredients to Brain Health in Dogs

If you’re studying for an exam or prepping for a big presentation at work, you may have reached for some "brain food" to keep you sharp and focusing on the task at hand. The foods you reach for might include spinach, almonds, broccoli, salmon, and even coffee. But what about your dog? While your dog may not be in school or working, it is important to keep their brains sharp too. We look at some foods that can help keep your dog’s brain sharp and healthy.


Some of the foods (or ingredients) that help keep your pup’s brain functioning optimally include:


  • Fish (and fish oil)

What can’t fish oil do? Its great for fighting inflammation, and can help with arthritis pain and heart disease, but its also great for your pup’s brain! It is a great source of DHA, which the American Kennel Club says is important for healthy brain development in puppies. “DHA is particularly important during early development, partly because the mammalian brain is developing so quickly during this time. Puppies acquire 70 percent of their adult brain mass by 6 weeks of age and 90 percent by 12 weeks. But puppies are limited in the amount of DHA they can produce themselves, so they must obtain it from their mother (prenatally and when nursing) and from food once they are eating on their own. Common dietary DHA sources include fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna, as well as eggs and chicken. In commercial pet foods, sources of DHA include fish, fish meal, and fish oil.”


  • Spinach and blueberries

Loaded with antioxidants, spinach and blueberries are two more great choices for helping your pup’s brain stay sharp. As dogs age, they can be affected by cognitive dysfunction syndrome, or CDS. This condition is most similar to Alzheimer’s in humans. In addition to providing mental stimulation and keeping your pup’s brain working, adding fruits and vegetables like spinach and blueberries to your pup’s diet will help prevent them from being impacted as severely by conditions like CDS.


  • Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates for your pup. High in fiber, potassium, vitamins A, B6 and C as well as calcium. They help with nervous system function and keep your pup’s immune system working well. Like blueberries and spinach these delicious tubers are also loaded with antioxidants. This is due in part to their bright orange hue. Not only will sweet potatoes give your pup great energy, they will also help keep their brains working optimally too.


  • Coconut Oil

“Coconut oil possesses many therapeutic qualities, but perhaps the most amazing is its scientifically proven ability to improve brain function in older dogs and people. As the body’s supercomputer, the brain requires a lot of energy, most of which is satisfied when the body breaks down glucose from food. However, as we age, we metabolize glucose less efficiently, leaving a gap in the brain’s energy requirement.” Says


Your pup may enjoy lapping up some coconut oil or having their food topped with it. In addition to being great for their brains, coconut oil is also good for your pup’s skin, coat and digestive system. Be cautious to notoverfeed your pup coconut oil as it is possible to overfeed which can lead to digestive distress or weight gain.


At PAWUP, we know a thing or two about ingredients to keep your pup’s brain healthy and functioning optimally.


While we know you can supplement your dog’s diet with many of the vitamins and minerals found in these brain foods, we add many brain healthy ingredients directly into our recipes.


Our human-grade meats are mixed with ingredients like spinach, blueberries, sweet potato and and fish oil (sound familiar?!) to create meals that your dog won’t just enjoy, but will also be healthier for having eaten them.


Our veterinary nutritionists keep up with the latest advancements in research so they can advise on the best recipes for our pups and yours.


If your pup is having cognitive issues or is getting older and you suspect they are developing nurological problems or CDS, contact your vet for an evaluation. They will be able to perform an exam and testing to help you figure out what is going on. While a healthy diet is a great place to start, your vet may recommend additional supplements or medication to help your pet.


The PAWUP blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out