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Pet food to get brain booster

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Purina has developed a pet food supplement to improve mental functions, such as memory and thinking, and plans to add it to some of its products, the company announced Aug. 18.

The nutritional supplement, called Brain Production Blend (BPB), will be added to “select” cat and dog foods in the next 12 to 18 months, the company said. BPB includes fish oil, B vitamins, antioxidants and arginine, an amino acid.

Purina researchers concluded that BPB strengthens brains cells in cats who start consuming it when they are 5 to 8 years old. A similar study with dogs is nearing completion and is expected to yield comparable results.

Purina said BPB could curb aging-related cognitive decline, which includes forgetting how to perform normal functions, such as using a litter box or finding a food bowl. Studies have found that 28 percent of cats 11 to 14 years old and half of cats 15 years of age or older show signs of mental deterioration, according to Purina, a St. Louis-based division of Swiss-based Nestlé. For dogs, 28 percent of 11 and 12 year olds and 68 percent of 15 and 16 year olds show one or more signs of such decline.

“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.

Purina also announced that it is looking into ways to supplement cat food with medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are memory-enhancing nutrients derived from vegetable oils, such as coconut oil. The company already uses MCTs in food for senior dogs.