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Exploring the Science behind Cherish Pet Food's Diet for Mature Dogs

The Cherish range of pet foods were developed with two broad objectives: firstly to highlight the inseparable bond between pet and owner especially at feeding time and secondly to ensure that Cherish provides peak nutrition for the Mind, Body and Spirit of each dog.

 Super 7 Years + Diet for Dogs is really the flagship of this range developed by the team at Advanced Pet Care of Australia Pty Ltd, an Australian-owned and operated pet food company.

Cherish Pet Food
has been created from the ground up by one of Australia’s leading pet nutritionists Emeritus Professor Nick Costa from Murdoch University who shared for us his knowledge of the canine aging process as this forms the basis of the nutritional science behind the Cherish Pet Food range for mature dogs and also cats.

Both our Malinois will turn ten later this year and despite no known medical issues and being in general good health, we were eager to learn more about the latest research into ingredients that may help delay the onset of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, a disease seriously impacting the quality of life of dogs in their sunset years.

So when is your Dog Considered a Senior?

"Our first issue in the development of Cherish Super 7 Years was to settle the question in our own minds of how old is a senior dog?" explained Professor Costa.

Dogs are living longer due to advances in veterinary care and nutrition. The lifespan of a dog may be impacted by factors such as genetics, whether or not a dog is spayed or neutered, the amount of preventive veterinary care received, nutritional care, and most importantly breed type and size.

Credit: American Kennel Club

Toy/small breed dogs, such as Jack Russells, Chihuahuas and Shih Tzus, live 39 percent longer than giant breed dogs, such as a Great Danes or Saint Bernards. 

Given their shorter lifespan, giant breed dogs can be expected to reach their senior years much earlier than small breed dogs do (i.e. at 6 years rather than 9 years of age), which means, that in general, they are likely to develop aging-associated diseases such as arthritis and canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) earlier than small breeds [1].

Nevertheless, the age of transition of individual dogs from adult to senior or geriatric is still variable and subjective.

Given this range, we decided to set seven years as the age of seniority for the purposes of formulating and recommending the feeding of Cherish Super 7 Years + Diet for Dogs and it has been formulated on this basis to meet the specific nutritional and physiological requirements of senior dogs.

Regular, comprehensive assessment by your veterinarian of physical, lifestyle, and nutritional factors is warranted for all senior dogs [2]. There are two aspects to the approach to the veterinary care of this population of dogs. 

The first involves screening for and addressing / accommodating physiological changes caused by the normal aging of healthy older dogs; this population of dogs is clinically well and has no significant clinicopathologic findings on assessment.

The second aspect is screening for and addressing age-related disease [2]. The prevalence of various age-related diseases varies by disease. 

✔️ Depending on the study criteria, 28% to 68% of dogs older than 9 years show clinical signs consistent with canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD).

✔️ Chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs at a rate of 0.3% to 1.5% within the general dog population but at a rate of 10% to 15% in aged dogs.

✔️ Cancer may account for approximately 20% of dog deaths at 5 years and up to 40% to 50% of dogs aged 10 to 16 years.

✔️ According to survey data, dogs with arthritis, skin tumours, periodontal disease, and heart murmur are likely to be those older than 10 years.

✔️ Arthritis is particularly common, with as many as 20% of adult dogs being affected in one study.

What is Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) in Dogs?

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) is a major problem in senior and geriatric dogs. CCD is the degeneration of mental function and physical activity with age and is comparable to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. 

Nearly all breeds of dog are affected by age, both physically and mentally, although for reasons still not entirely apparent, some individuals are affected more than others. While it is highly unlikely that young dogs will be suffering from CCD, once dogs reach the age of seven, the risk of CCD increases greatly.

The distinctive signs of CCD include:

✔️ Increased restlessness and wandering with an apparent lack of purpose

✔️ Decreased ability to recognise familiar people and objects

✔️ Behavioural alterations, such as reduced willingness to play

✔️ Interrupted sleep and restlessness during normal sleeping hours

✔️ Increased house-soiling despite previous house training

It is nearly impossible to diagnose CCD before these signs develop and as such, the main method of diagnosis is the presence of the above signs.

Cherish Super 7 Years+ Diet for Dogs has been specifically designed and formulated to assist with the mind of senior dogs by sustaining brain function and addressing the behavioural changes associated with CCD while recognising these two aspects of CCD are inexorably linked.

#1. Feeding the Mind

Cherish Senior 7 Years+ Diet for Dogs sustains brain function in two major ways:

✔️  Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) in CocoMCT and Ketogenesis

Cherish Senior 7 Years+ Diet for Dogs is specially formulated as a ketogenic diet for dogs through the inclusion of hero ingredient CocoMCT which is rich in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) derived from coconut oil from sustainably maintained coconut plantations (not palm oil).

Ketogenesis is the production of ketones from incomplete oxidation of fatty acids in the liver. 

Medium chain fatty acids, such caprylic (C8), capric (C10) and lauric (C12) acids, undergo rapid oxidation to ketones in the liver. These ketones, beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate, are a ready source of energy for the brain, heart and skeletal muscle but not liver. The liver does not have the enzyme to use ketones.

In the canine brain (as in all mammalian species), glucose is the preferred substrate for energy production. However, a decline in cognitive function is correlated with a decline in the use of glucose by brain [3]. Therefore, alternative energy sources are needed to fill this gap in energy production to sustain brain function in senior and geriatric dogs

In dogs, ketones are readily produced by the liver from the carnitine-independent, b-oxidation of medium chain fatty acids in the MCTs. Ketones, such as beta-hydroxybutyrate, can cross the blood-brain barrier, be completely oxidised to ATP for energy in the brain, and therefore are able to make up the energy gap in the brain’s metabolism. In addition, medium-chain triglyceride–supplemented dogs showed improved mitochondrial function, redox status, and fewer amyloid protein deposits.

Further, supplementation with medium-chain triglycerides resulted in improved cognitive performance in old dogs, compared with unsupplemented controls [4]. The MCT-supplemented group showed significantly better performance on most of the test protocols when compared with the controls. 

The group differences also varied as a function of task difficulty, with the more difficult task showing greater supplementation effects than the easier tasks. As the dogs in the treatment group showed significantly elevated levels of beta-hydroxy-butyrate, the authors proposed that MCT supplementation improved cognitive function in aged dogs by providing the brain with an alternative energy source. 

Long-term feeding of diets such as Cherish Senior 7 Years+ Diet for Dogs containing medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) should assist with cognitive function in aged dogs.

✔️  Docosahexaenoic acid DHA (C22:6 n-3) from marine fish oil and marine fish sources

Cherish Senior 7 Years + Diet for Dogs is boosted with the two sources of the polyunsaturated essential fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); deep sea fish oils and Chicken and Salmon meal

The canine brain has a high concentration of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), especially DHA, which is essential to normal neurological development in young dogs and shown to be essential to sustaining cognitive functions in older humans. 

Although this has not been fully assessed in dogs, results from other species show benefit of DHA for sustaining cognitive function. In addition to supplemented DHA, supplementation with MCTs also assisted with increasing the overall concentration of omega-3 PUFA in the brains of old dogs, making the lipid composition of the brain more like that of young dogs.

#2. Feeding the Body

Protein and Energy Content of Cherish Senior 7+Diet for Dogs

Cherish Senior 7 Years+ Diet for Dogs
is a unique and proven blend of sustainable, GMO-free, gluten-free and grain-free ingredients combined with functional foods all of which are aimed at specifically assisting with energy and protein metabolism in aging dogs.

Protein requirements to maintain nitrogen balance increase with age. However, there is an age-related decline in protein synthesis [3] and increased protein turnover in older animals [5]. 
"Unless medically indicated, older dogs do not benefit from dietary protein restriction."
Cherish Senior 7 Years+ Diet for Dogs has been formulated at a higher protein content than AAFCO recommendations using Chicken and Salmon meal (high-quality, readily digestible, and very palatable protein sources) for adult dogs to meet these age-related increases in protein turnover and nitrogen excretion. In addition, it has been supplemented with the key essential amino acids, lysine and methionine, to ensure maximum efficiency of utilisation of all amino acids both essential and non-essential for protein synthesis to compensate of any decline in protein synthesis in older dogs.

On the other hand, energy requirements of older dogs decrease with age. The magnitude of the decrease has been reported to be approximately 20% but may range up to 50% [6]. Certainly age- or disease-related decline in activity will further reduce energy requirements. 

The energy content of Cherish Senior 7 Years+ Diet for Dogs has been adjusted to help maintain ideal body condition score (BCS) and compensate for decreased energy needs, thereby reducing the risk of obesity. 

Nevertheless, it is an important aspect of veterinary care and general wellbeing of your dog to monitor body condition score (BCS) to check for lean body mass (LBM) and to prevent obesity because this condition exacerbates many age-related diseases [7]. 

For obese-prone older dogs, the Cherish Senior 7 Years +Diet for Dogs contains lower energy density and higher concentrations of moderately fermentable fibre in the form of sugar beet pulp to decrease energy density, thereby helping to promote satiety and an ideal body condition. 

Fermentation of sugar beet pulp produces butyrate which is the preferred substrate to maintain healthy, functioning colonic cells. Healthy colonic cells are critical to water balance and thus stool quality in dogs.

Since Cherish Senior 7 Years +Diet for Dogs does not contain gluten, this food may assist with the management of food intolerances to gluten in susceptible dogs of any age.

#3. Feeding the Spirit:

Dietary treatment of CCD has generally been based on the use of antioxidants and mitochondrial cofactors that may decrease the deleterious effects of free radicals produced during normal oxidative metabolism in the brain. 

There is ample evidence suggesting that free radicals play an important role in aging. The brain is particularly susceptible to the effects of free radicals, because it has a high rate of oxidative metabolism, a high content of lipids, and a limited ability for regeneration.

✔️ Selenium

Cherish Super 7 Years+ Diet for Dogs is boosted with selenium which is critical to the synthesis and function of selenoproteins such as selenoprotein P that has antioxidant properties and selenoprotein W that is located and highly conserved in the short-term memory zones in the brain

In humans, the hallmark pathologies of Alzheimer’s include the formation of amyloid plaques, abnormal clusters of protein fragments that build up between nerve cells in the brain, and tangles of dead and dying nerve cells made up of twisted strands of another protein called tau9. Selenium inclusion led to a dramatic reduction in amyloid burden in mouse models. 

CCD in dogs is associated with the accumulation of amyloid plaques (just as in humans with Alzheimer’s) and the genomic sequences for synthesis of amyloid in dogs are almost identical to human amyloid genomic sequences. This logic would suggest that selenium supplementation could lead to similar reductions in amyloid accumulation in older dogs.


Cherish Super 7 Years+ Diet for Dogs is boosted with blueberries which have been shown to reduce the rate of age-related damage to brain cells and shield memory-connected processed in the brain from inflammatory and oxidant damage.

✔️ Turmeric

Cherish Super 7 Years+ Diet for Dogs is boosted with turmeric. Turmeric in the form of curcumin improved memory and mood in people with mild, age-related memory loss in research reported by UCLA.

Dietary enrichment with a combination of antioxidants and mitochondrial cofactors such as Vitamin E, fed in conjunction with behavioural enrichment increased neutrophil phagocytosis in dogs across a range of ages.

Addressing Behavioural Changes

Cherish Super 7 Years+ Diet for Dogs addresses behavioural changes in dogs in two major ways:

✔️ L-Tryptophan

It contains supplemental L-tryptophan as well as endogenous tryptophan in Chicken and Salmon Meal. In addition to its main function as an essential amino acid for protein synthesis, tryptophan is also essential for the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters. 

Tryptophan is a vital precursor for the synthesis of a number compounds including:
  • Melatonin (hormone) – responsible for the regulation of physiological functions related to daylight and day length including sleep and seasonal reproduction.
  • Serotonin (neurotransmitter) – involved in the regulation of a number of important pathways including mood, sleep and appetite, and
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin) – deficiencies of niacin result in anorexia, weight loss, and ulcerative lesions of the mouth in dogs.
Recent research has focussed on the role of tryptophan in serotonin production and the effect that supplementation of tryptophan can have on mood and behaviour modification in dogs [10]. Along with dietary control of protein intake, tryptophan supplementation has been shown to reduce dominance aggression and territorial aggression

Additionally, elevated serotonin blood levels have been shown to reduce the incidence of other behaviour disorders such as separation anxiety and travel anxiety.

Maintaining a Healthy Microbiome

The concept that commensal/symbiotic gut bacteria can influence CNS activity has led to a ‘Paradigm Shift’ in brain and behavioural research [11]. 

Moreover, recent discoveries in microbiome-brain interactions have revolutionised the approach to investigating psychopathology, and spurred the development of microbiota-targeted interventions (psychobiotics) which hold great potential as a new therapeutic approach in mental health disorders . 

The brain-gut-microbiome axis comprises an extensive communication network between the brain, the gut, and the microbiota residing there. Development of a diverse gut microbiome is vital for multiple features of behaviour and physiology, as well as many fundamental aspects of brain structure and function [12]. Microbiota have been shown to be involved in diverse neural functions such as myelination, microglia function, neuronal morphology, and blood-brain barrier integrity across the life span, from early life to adolescence to old age.

Cherish Super 7 Years+ for Dogs includes the prebiotics, fructooligosaccharide (FOS) and mannooligosaccharide (MOS) and the probiotic Bacillus subtilis with the aim of sustaining a healthy microbiome in older dogs [9]. 

Prebiotics act as food for the ‘good bacteria’ such as Bifidobacteria sp. and Lactobacillus sp. because the pancreatic and small intestinal carbohydrases do not break the glycosidic bonds in FOS and MOS. On the other hand, the bacterial species present in the dog’s gut microbiome do have that enzymic capacity to utilise FOS and MOS for energy and growth. In addition, MOS has been shown to enhance the immunogenic capacity of the gut (which is so important since the gut comprises approx. 30% of the body’s immune system). 
Changes in gut ecology are normal during aging in dogs [13]. 
For instance, the gastric and small intestinal bacterial populations are similar between old and young dogs, but the colon of old dogs has lower concentrations of Bacteroides, Eubacteria, Peptostreptococci, Bifidobacteria, lactobacilli, and staphylococci and higher concentrations of a clostridial variety compared with young dogs fed the same diet [6].

Prebiotics such as FOS and MOS in 
Cherish Super 7 Years+ for Dogs by helping to maintain the population of desirable species in the colon thereby reduce the risk of pathological organisms such as clostridial species gaining dominance in the gut ecology. 

Probiotics such as Bacillus subtilis can grow in this environment and ‘block out’ the potential niches for pathogens in the microbiome. In these ways FOS, MOS and B. subtilis cooperate to sustain the microbiome in older dogs. The inclusion of these functional foods such as FOS, MOS and B. subtilis in Cherish Super 7 Years+ for Dogs aims to sustain the function the gut-brain axis in older dogs."

written by Professor emeritus Nick Costa from Murdoch University for Australian Dog Lover (all rights reserved).

Later this month, we will share with you our own dogs' experience with Cherish Super 7 Years+ Diet for Dogs.

Price & Where to Buy:

RRP: $34.95 (3kg); $78.95 (8kg); $134.95 (15kg) for all varieties.

For more information and stockists, please visit

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1. accessed 17/5/2018.

2. Larsen, J.A. and Farcas, A. (2014). Nutrition of Aging Dogs Vet Clin Small Anim 44 :741–759.

3. Wannemacher RW Jr, McCoy JR. (1966). Determination of optimal dietary protein requirements of young and old dogs. J Nutr 88: 66–74.

4. Taha AY, Henderson ST, Burnham WM. Dietary enrichment with medium chain triglycerides (AC-1203) elevates polyunsaturated fatty acids in the parietal cortex of aged dogs: implications for treating age-related cognitive decline. Neurochem Res 2009;34:1619–25.

5. Pan Y, Larson B, Araujo JA, et al. Dietary supplementation with medium-chain TAG has long-lasting cognition-enhancing effects in aged dogs. Br J Nutr 2010;103: 1746–54.

6. Richardson A, Birchenall-Sparks MC. (1983). Age-related changes in protein synthesis. Rev Biol Res Aging 1: 255–73.

7. LaFlamme DP, Martineau B, Jones W, et al. (2000). Effect of age on maintenance energy requirements and apparent digestibility of canine diets. Comp Cont Educ Pract Vet 22:113.

8. Harper EJ. (1998) Changing perspectives on aging and energy requirements: aging, body weight and body composition in humans, dogs and cats. J Nutr 128:2627S–31S.

9. Pillai, R., Uyehara-Lock, J.H. and Bellinger, F.P. (2014). Selenium and Selenoprotein Function in Brain Disorders. International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 66: Pages 229–239.

10. Tryptophan - what is it and how can it help my dog?

11. Microbiome in brain function and mental health. P. J. Kennedy, A. B. Murphy, J. F. Cryan, P. R. Ross, T. G. Dinan, and C. Stanton. (2016). Trends in Food Science & Technology 57 289-301.

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