You’ll always see your pet as a puppy even when she grows old. Unfortunately, as she ages, her body and mind may suffer. Much like humans, dogs can experience cognitive and physical decline during their senior years. While we experience Alzheimer’s disease, pups display canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome. According to studies, about 68 percent of all dogs display at least one sign of dog dementia by the age of 15, but some can start showing signs as early as 11 years old. Dementia doesn’t have to be the end for your pup - catching the development early and implementing subsequent lifestyle changes can help give your dog the best quality of life.
Although there is no definitive cause of canine cognitive dysfunction, researchers attribute the condition to genetics and oxidative stress, which is the deterioration of cells and DNA from free radical damage. Too much damage can accelerate aging and increase the risk of dog dementia, cancer and heart disease. Free radicals are unpaired electrons produced in the body through processes like food-energy conversion and found in cigarette smoke, air pollutants and UV rays. The issue with these common electrons is that they create pairs by stealing electrons away from healthy cells. By forming a pairing, free radicals also create more single electrons and start a chain reaction of taking electrons throughout the body.
Dogs experience canine cognitive dysfunction in different ways, and even slight changes can signal canine cognitive dysfunction. Most pets will display one or more of these signs:
Your dog may become confused navigating around the home that he once knew so well. He may:
You may notice abrupt changes in your pup’s personality. If he was once friendly to strangers and familiar faces, he may become aggressive and shy away from affection. Conversely, if he used to be standoffish, he may look for attention from those around him.
Pets with dog dementia tend to exhibit strange sleep patterns. He may sleep all day and pant, pace, bark or whine at night. He may also try to wake you or others in the house.
Even if your pup has always done well with potty training, his mental decline may cause him to go inside and even right in front of you.
He may lose interest in playing or greeting visitors at the door and become more sedentary.
Pets suffering from canine cognitive dysfunction often feel heightened anxiety in normal situations. Noise phobias, separation anxiety, and fear-related aggression are common in dogs with cognitive problems and may stem from confusion.
Before your vet diagnoses your pet with dementia, he will want to do thorough testing to rule out potential health conditions that could be causing symptoms like canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome. For example, incontinence can result from kidney or bladder conditions. It’s possible that your pet has underlying conditions as well as canine cognitive dysfunction which would require treatment for both complications. Make sure to discuss any changes in your dog’s behavior – no matter how small – with your veterinarian so he can do proper testing and catch any developments.
There is no cure for dog dementia. However, treatment can help your pet live a better quality of life. Depending on your pet and the stage of his dementia, there are several potential treatment routes your vet may take.
Studies suggest that a diet filled with antioxidants like vitamin C and E can slow the progression of dog dementia and help your pup strengthen his neural pathways. Antioxidants pair with free radicals to decrease the amount of damage they do to the brain. Natural products like Pure Paws CBD Hemp Oil give your dog a potent dose of antioxidants while allowing you to continue your established regimen.
The medication Anipryl (Selegiline) is prescribed for eligible pets. Your vet will want to know your pet’s current medication and run tests to ensure he is a candidate for this option.
Creating a stimulating environment for your dog can help with cognition and slow the progression of canine cognitive dysfunction. Puzzle toys, extended play time and establishing an outdoor routine can help your pup combat the decline associated with dog dementia.
Your pup is still the same trusted companion even though he’s struggling with canine cognitive dysfunction. Catching the condition early can help you get adequate treatment and help your pet immensely. Learn more about how CBD can boost the health of aging dogs.
Michigan Veterinary Medical Association – Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome in Companion Animals: Diagnosis and Treatment
PetMD – 5 Signs of Dementia in Dogs
National Center for Biotechnology Information – Oxidative Damage and Cognitive Dysfunction: Antioxidant Treatments to Promote Healthy Brain Aging
Pet MD – Selegiline