<< Canine Health Bytes On Demand
From Leashes to Neurons:
The Importance of Exercising Your Dog's Brain
for Optimal Mental and Physical Health
Karen Overall, MA, VMD, PhD, DACVB
Veterinarians, dog trainers, breeders and dog fanciers have done a fairly good job of teaching people
to care for their dogs' physical needs from coat care, to weight control, to dental health. However, most veterinarians receive no training in the one field - veterinary behavioral medicine - that cares for the master circuit board of the being who is your dog.
Mental health issues kill more dogs annually than do the top 4 physical health causes of death, combined. Neuroscience is the most heavily funded overarching field in human medicine, yet in dogs ... we somehow miss the importance of mental and brain health, behavioral health care and cognitive stimulation. The myths and misunderstandings about normal behavior, alone, are staggering. This is ironic, given that there is no other species on the planet who is more like us in their cognitive skill set, in the genomics of factors related to neurochemisty and cognitive processing, or in the longevity of what may be a co-evolved relationship based on work and shared problem solving skills. By applying what we know about how brains develop, react to stressors and age, we can enhance our relationships with our dogs in almost revolutionary ways, and by doing so enhance their well-being in ways they would - and do - choose.
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