How MCTs Helped One Purina Scientist’s Dog

Dr. Jason Gagné, DVM, DACVIM
By Dr. Jason Gagné, DVM, DACVIM
Updated: 5/9/20241-2 minutes
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An Innovative Way to Help an Aging Dog

Watching a pet age can be one of the toughest things a pet owner has to go through — especially since aging pets can be at risk for age-related cognitive decline. For Purina Nutritionist Dr. Brian Zanghi, the power of Purina’s MCT innovation helped his dog beat the odds.

The Dog That Inspired a Career

Baxter, a 14-year-old Labrador Retriever, has been in Brian’s life for a long time. In fact, training Baxter and his other dogs was part of what inspired Brian to pursue a Ph.D. in pet nutrition in school, and later what inspired him to join the team at Purina.

“Baxter is my buddy,” Brian says, “And he comes to work with me every day.”

The Power of MCTs

MCTs stands for “medium-chain triglycerides,” a common nutrient sourced from vegetable oils like coconut oil. MCTs have the power to act as an alternative energy source for an aging dog’s brain, helping to protect against the effects of age-related cognitive decline.

Less than a decade after joining our team of pet nutrition researchers, Brian has seen one of the projects he helped on directly improve his dog’s life.

The Threat of Age-Related Cognitive Decline

Age-related cognitive decline can be a slow and gradual process that begins in middle age. Linked to a drop in brain glucose metabolism, age-related cognitive decline often results in:

  • Memory loss
  • Reduced social interaction with the owner and other pets,
  • Trouble learning
  • Disorientation

“When an older dog experiences some age-related cognitive decline, they become less able to adapt to change, causing anxiety, fear or disorientation,” Brian explains. “Many pets also may become less interactive with family members”.

MCTs and Memory

For the last four years, Brian has been feeding Baxter a Purina senior dog food formula that contains MCTs — and it’s worked to help retain his cognitive function and brain health.   

“Baxter and I have worked together for his entire life; he is a titled sporting dog and I switched him to an MCT formula after age nine because I wanted him maintain his cognitive health and training as long as possible,” he explains. “It has been amazing to see Baxter retain those skills and remain playful into his later years thanks to MCTs.”

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