Our first focus for ON! was to optimize the compounds that communicate all your dog’s thoughts and feelings throughout its brain (14). Research now shows definitively, that your dog’s brain is very similar in structure and function to the human brain. Dogs use the same neurotransmitter compounds as us to send nerve impulses, to generate their thoughts, to receive and understand language, and to feel emotions.
Dogs use the hippocampus in the center of their brain to learn and to form memories, just like us.
They experience reward, happiness and delight through their dopamine system, and the “reward center” in their lateral hypothalamus about an inch behind the base of the top of their nose, just as we do.
They feel anger, anxiety, fear, sadness, and sorrow through the amygdala complex in their midbrain, as we do too.
Consequently we can apply many findings on human brain function that now help us understand canine cognition. These are great advances in science.
First, we aim to regulate the non-neurotransmitter, but vital antioxidant and communication compound MELATONIN. This pleotropic compound maintains the circadian rhythm, the daily rhythm of light created by the rotation of the Earth about its axis that controls all your dog’s physiology. In modern dogs it starts to decline by mid-life (15,16). We use ON! To inhibit this decline.
What is Melatonin?
So we put a special combination of melatonin, its precursor 5-hydroxy tryptophan, and other support nutrients to maintain circadian function into ON! To show you the importance of maintaining melatonin lifelong for your dog’s health and longevity, I will quote directly from the latest review by the world’s foremost authority on melatonin, Professor Russell Reiter and his colleagues at the University of Texas.
“Experimental evidence demonstrates that melatonin is necessary for the proper synthesis, secretion, and action of insulin. Melatonin is a powerful chronobiotic being responsible, in part, for the daily distribution of metabolic processes so that the activity/eating phase of the day is associated with high insulin sensitivity, and the rest/fasting phase at night is synchronized to the insulin-resistant metabolic phase of the day. The reduction in melatonin production during aging induces insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, sleep disturbance, and metabolic circadian disorganization leading to obesity” (14).
BOOST YOUR DOG’S GIDDY-UP
Next we aim to regulate the neurotransmitter DOPAMINE, best described as your dog’s “get-up-and –go” mechanism, which also controls its balance, agility, judgment of distance, motor skills and its pleasurable emotions, especially when running (17). To do this we put the botanical compound mucuna pruriens in a careful mix with other synergistic nutrients into ON!
What is Mucuna pruriens?
Mucuna is now widely used as a pharmaceutical in preventing human brain degeneration. It will do the same for your dog (15). Breeders may also benefit, as Mucuna has been proven to extend a dogs reproductive functions into later life. It is also a strong antioxidant. Little known in the West until the last decade, Mucuna has a lot to recommend it for canine health (16).
IMPROVE CANINE MEMORY
Next for ON! is the neurotransmitter ACETYLCHOLINE, the vital neurotransmitter for memory in our dogs, and in us. The average dog starts to lose acetylcholine and memory at about mid-life But we know now how to prevent this loss. Here we use several synergistic compounds that support acetylcholine function, especially acetyl-L-carnitine, and R+ lipoic acid (10,18-20).
What is Acetyl-L-carnitine?
When you put them together in a supplement the functions of both really shine. Most folk now know of the brain nutrient alpha-lipoic acid. Unfortunately, most supplements of this powerful compound that are sold in health food stores are the wrong chemical. Most are not the natural form, but are produced in a chemical manufacturing plant from other ineffective chemicals, to make a compound called racemic R+/S- lipoic acid.
Without going into all the biochemistry details of isomers and chirality, the S- leg cancels out the R+ leg. Despite its widespread sales for human use, the man-made form doesn’t work at all (9). For ON! We use only the natural form: pure R+ alpha lipoic acid. In combination with Acetyl-L-carnitine, it is a powerful antioxidant that protects brain cells from free radicals and oxidative stress, it inhibits the aging damage to brain lipids and proteins, and it protects the mitochondria, the power plants of the neurons. In controlled trials, the combination of these two nutrients improves memory and motor skills. That’s an impressive list that makes R+ alpha lipoic acid and acetyl-L-carnitine the backbone of our nootropic ON! (10).
LOVE YOUR LAID-BACK DOG
Next is the dog’s “relaxation” neurotransmitter SEROTONIN. Together, the nutrients which support the circadian rhythm, melatonin and 5-hydroxy tryptophan also support serotonin. In addition we have included the “mellowing” nutrient theanine (21).
What is 5-hydroxy tryptophan?
SAY NO TO HYPER-DOG
Last we deal with the fast, excitatory neurotransmitter GLUTAMATE in the canine brain. Many dogs who come to us for training have common problems of separation anxiety, fear, especially in small dogs, and hyper-activity and aggression, especially in large dogs. Glutamate is often the culprit.
Causes of behavioural problems in your dog
Most behavior problems are related to the dog’s smart genes, which were developed in their ancient wolf forbears for instant fight or flight in defense of self or territory against the many threats of Paleolithic times.
Quickest to fire out of control is the GLUTAMATE neurotransmitter system. Fortunately, because of their pleotropic nature of the nutrients we have selected, the nutrients that support melatonin and serotonin also serve to keep glutamate in check. In addition, we add proven botanicals, gingko biloba, and silibinin into ON! (20,21). Both these nutrients have pleiotropic actions. In addition to helping control glutamate, gingko biloba, extracted for the leaves of the gingko tree inhibits the decline of memory with age, and also maintains the dog’s intelligence into very old age (20)
In addition to effects to control glutamate, silibinin, an extract form the Silybum marianum, the blessed thistle, has proven effects in protecting the aging liver, a common problem in senior dogs. It is also used for protection against liver cancer (22,23).