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Krill as a brain food for dogs

Updated: Feb 13, 2021

We're are very excited to share this fantastic, insightful and well researched blog article from Hug Pet Food

Nutrition is an important factor in the performance of any athlete and the same goes for our furry companions. This fascinating article talks about the benefits that Krill can have on a dog's cognitive function and physical health.

Plus Hug have very kindly given all trailrunners members an exclusive 25% discount on their first order of food. Just use discount code 'trailrunner25' at the checkout.

We hope this will be the first of many canine nutrition articles so if there is anything specific you would like read about, please message us.


Why does krill top the best brain food for dogs list?

Sure, it contains omega-3 and choline, both of which are proven to support and improve dogs' cognitive functioning. Then again, plenty of other ingredients include these, too.

What makes this Antarctic find so special?

Krill: the most effective agent of delivery 

In our last blog we discussed bioavailability: if the ratio of nutrients in your pooch's food isn't right, they can't absorb them properly, no matter how healthy the meal. Something similar occurs when feeding your dog powerhouses omega-3 and choline: if they're supplied in the wrong form, your pet will see few to no benefits. Sadly, this is often the case, and their presence in most pet foods is little more than a marketing ploy.

Not so when krill is the agent of delivery. Arguably the most potent brain food for dogs, this mighty ingredient can have a major impact on your hound's mental and physical wellbeing. Here's why:

There's omega-3… and then there's omega-3

A raft of evidence demonstrates how critical omega-3 is for maintaining great canine health, from puppyhood right through to old age. What many people don't know is that omega-3 fatty acids come as long-chain omega-3s or short-chain omega-3s - andthe difference between the two is big. 

Long-chain omega-3s are linked with all the health-boosting benefits we know of: not short-chain omega-3s. The type of omega-3 fed hugely impacts the rate at which it raises a dog's omega-3 index: how we measure the amount of good fatty acids in a dog's red blood cell membranes.

QRILL Pet, our Antarctic krill supplier, cites a study of twenty Alaskan Huskies as an example of this in action. Over six weeks, ten Huskies were given krill oil, a known source of long-chain fatty acids; the other ten were given flaxseed oil, a source of short-chain fatty acids.

The Huskies started with similar omega-3 index levels. In as few as three weeks, those ingesting krill oil showed markedly higher omega-3 index levels, while those receiving flaxseed oil showed a notable decline. 

By week six, the omega-3 index levels in the Huskies dining on krill oil remained significantly raised, while the index levels of those on flaxseed oil continued to deplete. In the end, the krill group saw a 62% hike in their omega-3 index and the flaxseed group saw a 40% drop. Pretty hefty gap.

Krill as a brain food for dogs: omega-3 benefits

So, we've established that krill is a top notch brain food for dogs - one that properly provides the omega-3 goods. Here are some of the benefits its long-chain fatty acids offer your canine:

Cognitive support

Omega-3s are vital for the maintenance of cognitive function, especially during a dog’s early and senior years.

The long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in krill help pups develop and support older hounds' mental faculties, making krill an ideal brain food for both age groups, in addition to ultra active dogs such as the Huskies QRILL Pet studied.

Happy hearts

Frequent consumption of marine omega-3s has been linked to improved heart health, decreasing the risk of disease and combatting inflammation. 

Strong muscles and joints

Another standout feature of the omega-3s found in krill is their anti-inflammatory effect on muscles and joints, perfect for growing pups, ageing canines, and high-performance dogs.  

Immune-boosting goodness

A balanced, species-appropriate diet that serves up the right omega-3s is the route to a robust, illness-fighting immune system.

Soothed skin

We talk a lot about the importance of diet as a remedy for itchy and dry skin. Omega-3 can have a preventative and soothing effect on skin conditions and allergies, and can ease along the healing process.

A question of choline

Choline is a fresh up-and-comer in the pet nutrition world. An essential nutrient, canines naturally produce it in their liver - but not in the quantity required to match all of their body's needs. Subsequently, a dietary supplement is needed to avoid a choline deficiency.

The catch? Not all choline supplements are created equal.

You'll find choline in many standard dog foods, typically in the form of choline chloride or betaine. In contrast, krill naturally delivers an effective hit in a form of choline called phosphatidylcholine. Why does that matter? Because phospholipids are a whopping 12 times more effective at increasing choline concentration in the blood than choline chloride.

In another QRILL Pet study, a dog sled team of twenty Huskies was assessed over six weeks to see if feeding phosphatidylcholine via krill would raise the choline levels in their plasma. Ten of the Huskies were given a control diet omitting krill, while ten were given a krill supplement. By the end of the trial, the Huskies on the krill diet saw a 52% rise in choline levels - far higher than those on the control diet.

These findings are particularly handy for pooches leading high-stamina lifestyles, whether they’re Huskies, CaniCross canines, or working dogs. Choline is key for both nerve transmission and muscle function, so a drop in choline levels could negatively impact their performance: another reason krill is such a brilliant brain food for dogs.

Krill as a brain food for dogs: choline benefits

Ok, ok: krill is king when it comes to choline provision. But what exactly are the benefits of choline?

Brain care

Choline is a crucial component in the build and maintenance of your dog's nervous system. It lends support to neurotransmitters facilitating cognitive messaging, and it also has a positive impact on brain development, combatting the decline of memory and cognition as pooches age.

Heart help

Choline plays a pivotal role in bolstering the nerve impulse systems connected to a normal heartbeat and heart muscle. It also contributes to a healthy heart and blood vessels.

Liver love

Choline helps to prevent liver disease by aiding in the removal of fat from your dog's liver. Clever stuff.

Ethical marine support for dogs

Hug are proud to source Antarctic krill from QRILL Pet: the only fishery ranked 'A' by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership. QRILL developed an eco-harvesting method that involves just 1% of the krill biomass, so there's plenty left for natural predators in the wild. All krill is processed on-board their ships, so it has no time to deteriorate.

You'll find premium Antarctic krill in all Hug's raw recipes for dogs, as well as their cold pressed range. A premium ingredient that's useful at all life stages, it's excellent for growing puppies, active dogs, and seniors, promoting a balanced mind, better memory, and mobility. It's bloomin' krill-iant (sorry, couldn't resist). 

To find out more about how Hug food supports specific health conditions, head here. 

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