We all wish our dogs could stay as active and healthy as when they were puppies, but the truth is that dogs age like humans. Just as older people develop illnesses like Alzheimer’s or dementia, older dogs are also susceptible to diseases like Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD).
Cognitive dysfunction syndrome, also called senior dog dementia, canine dementia, or canine Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that can change your dog’s awareness, memory, and ability to learn. Physical changes in an aging dog’s brain cause behavioral changes.
The risk of cognitive dysfunction in dogs is significantly higher in animals that are not active, according to a new study published in Scientific Reports.
Researchers at the University of Washington found that the odds of a canine cognitive dysfunction diagnosis were 6.47 times higher in dogs reported as not active than those said to be very active. However, researchers cautioned that the disease could lead to a lack of exercise, stressing that the study results of 15,019 dogs enrolled in the Dog Aging Project are based on owner observations and suggest a correlation, not causation.
Other factors that appear to increase the odds of developing cognitive dysfunction include neurological disorders and impaired sight or hearing.
Recognizing Canine Cognitive Dysfunction warning signs
Many people discount changes in behavior as signs of aging, so how do dogs act when they have dementia?
Use this cognitive dysfunction syndrome checklist to monitor your dog’s symptoms and risk factors.
- Your dog loses interest in you and his surroundings.
- Sometimes the dog’s sleep and wake cycles become unsettled. He has trouble sleeping at night and sleeps more during the day.
- Your dog finds it difficult to navigate familiar environments and can get lost on the same property where he grew up.
- Sometimes the dog has difficulty hearing, and either doesn’t respond to your commands or takes longer than usual to respond.
- Nervous behavior. Your dog becomes unnecessarily anxious and apprehensive. He often is found panting, moaning, shivering, barking at nothing, or pacing.
- Your dog appears disoriented and sits in a corner staring into space or at a wall. Sometimes, he even seems confused and stops while completing a task.
- Changing affections. Your dog becomes overly attached or becomes less affectionate. Some dogs even become irritable and isolated.
- Your dog begins to forget his house training and can no longer perform tasks that previously were easy.
- Some dogs become lethargic and are unwilling to do anything, including playing with you, your other dogs, or your children.
Before you decide your dog has CCD, take your dog to the veterinarian for a check-up and diagnosis. Other diseases can present similar symptoms. You must determine whether mental or physical conditions cause your dog’s behavior.
Treatment options for managing dog dementia
Although CCD has no cure, you can still do several things to slow your dog’s mental decline, boost cognitive function, and extend his life if he has dog dementia. Consider these activities to improve cognitive function and slow the disease progression.
1. Brain training for old dogs
Instead of allowing your dog to enjoy its old age lying around the house and become lax in disciplining your senior dog, you can try doing regular brain training for your dog. Lifelong learning is beneficial for dogs as well as people. Cognitive biologists from a research institute in Vienna have proposed using simple tasks on the computer to do brain training for your dog. They recommend using touchscreen interactions combined with treats to motivate your dog. Challenging your dog with puzzles and interactive toys provides mental stimulation and decreases the cognitive decline associated with dog dementia.
2. Reorient your dog with a strict schedule
Stick to schedule time for everything from feeding, walking your dog, and toilet time to bedtime. Keeping a tight schedule helps to reorient your confused dog.
3. Learn to manage your dog’s anxiety
Suppose your dog is pacing or restless and can’t sleep at night; then, as the pet owner. In that case, you should be able to know how to manage your dog’s anxiety, either with aromatherapy, a walk to the park, the sound of the television, or even soothing music. Another option, consider giving your dog CBD-infused treats to help him relax and sleep.
4. Give your dog cognitive-enhancing diets
You can design a new diet for your dog with supplements like antioxidants, vitamins E and C, flavonoids, CDB oil, Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), Omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients that can boost your dog’s brainpower. Talk to your vet about supplement choices. You can also buy food for senior dogs designed to help them with mobility and memory issues.
Selegiline or Anipryl is a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) primarily used to treat CCD because it helps to improve brain chemistry and reduces the breakdown of a dog’s neurotransmitters and dopamine. You can try giving this drug to your dog under the strict observation of a certified vet.
Keep your dog sharp
- Give your dog a balanced meal appropriate for his breed and age. Follow a diet plan that helps your dog strengthen his health.
- Give your dog supplements like antioxidants that destroy free radicals that can damage your dog’s healthy cells.
- Make sure your dog gets regular physical and mental exercise. Maintaining your dog’s physical activity helps keep him healthy.
- Ensure that your dog socializes with other pets and people. Providing social interactions challenges your dog mentally.
- Keep your dog at a healthy weight. When dogs are obese or overweight, they become more susceptible to illnesses and diseases as they age.
- Visit your veterinarian at least twice yearly, regardless of whether your dog is healthy. A twice-yearly visit to the vet allows you to monitor your dog’s physical and mental changes as he ages.
Be prepared for dementia in senior dogs
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction is a severe dog disease, but if you observe the signs of dementia in dogs early, you can take steps to slow down your dog’s mental decline.
Maintaining a strict treatment program and lifestyle can help extend your dog’s life. But you also need to be aware dementia is a severe condition that affects your dog’s quality of life.
Becky Holton is a journalist and a blogger at Mymathdone.com, a UK assignment writing service. She is interested in education technologies, bestessays.com.au reviews, college-paper.org review, ukessays.com review, top essay writing services review, academized review, and is always ready to support informative speaking. Follow her on Twitter.