Just like people, dogs also experience changes as they age. Changes may be in eyesight, joint issues, heart disease, and weight. These are the common physical changes but the mental challenges should also be considered.
When dogs age, it is essential to pay attention to signs of potential dog dementia. To answer the question, can dogs get dementia? Yes, canine dementia or or Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) does exist.
Dementia is a medical term that pertains to a decline in memory, social abilities, and thinking.
People can acquire Alzheimer’s Disease but fortunately, dogs do not acquire this specific brain disease. However, dog dementia is one condition that canines can encounter as they age.
Signs And Symptoms Of Dog Dementia
The risk factor for dementia is age. The sad part about this is that these symptoms can turn severe and interfere with a dog’s daily functioning abilities when the disease continues to progress.
A senile dog may showcase certain types of behaviours that can determine Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. The acronym DISHAA should be followed. Disorientation; Social Interactions; Sleep/Wake Cycles; House soiling, Learning, and Memory; Activity; and Anxiety.
Disorientation is one of the most typical symptoms as you might get surprised why a senior dog gets disoriented even in a familiar environment. Be alert when you find your dog losing track of where it is and sometimes getting stuck in a space where it thinks it can’t get out.
Change in social interaction is also one symptom. If your dog loves to interact with people and even other animals before and you’ve noticed that it gets irritable or cranky as of late, be on the lookout.
Dogs who have CCD usually withdraw from their favourite activities and even change their interaction patterns. When you notice this, it would be best to seek advice from your veterinarian.
Change in the sleep-wake cycle is also a symptom to look out for. Dogs that usually sleep soundly at night and then change their schedule or activities might be developing Canine Cognitive dysfunction. This might be affected by anxiety as well.
If you’ve noticed your dog defecating or urinating inside your house, especially those who were trained, then this is also one sign of CCD. This may be a sign that your dog has already lost its voluntary control elimination ability.
Having a hard time with your dog letting you know that it needs to go outside is one critical sign of CCD.
Decreased activity levels are also tied up to Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. If you notice your dog showing a reduced interest in responding to things, people, and even to their environment then you should be on the lookout for progression of dog dementia.
Having difficulty in eating and drinking is also one symptom that you should be on the lookout for. If you notice your dog having a hard time eating or even can’t seem to find its bowl of food, this might be a sign that you should be aware of.
Restlessness or repetitive actions may also be a sign of dog dementia. Repetitive head bobbing and leg shaking are the most usual actions to look out for.
Prevention Or Cure?
Unfortunately, there is no cure discovered for Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. However, there are steps to help in slowing its progression. It would be advisable to get dogs who are seven years and up to be screened by veterinarians on an annual basis. The key here is early detection and treatment.
Luckily, studies are being done by a group of scientists from different universities in the United States to understand the factors that are related to dog aging and how to assist dogs to live long and healthy lives.
When it comes to life expectancy, the variable depends on the physical and mental health of the dog. Progression of the disease and whether the diagnosis of dementia was traced early or not also serve as essential variables.
Experts suggest that catching signs of dementia earlier can help with earlier treatment and that could help battle the progress of the disease. Dogs that have cognitive dysfunction showing in one category are likely to have another impairment in a different category in 6 to 18 months.
Dogs do not die because of dementia but due to the health impairments brought forth by CCD, the life of the dog may reach a diminished state. This is where extreme measures and the most difficult decisions are made by dog parents.
Managing Dementia Or Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
Canine cognitive dysfunction management requires making your dog happy and easing their discomfort that is related to symptoms of dementia. When it comes to medication, there is an FDA-approved option named Selegiline.
Of course, you would need to consult with your local veterinarian first. Never give your dogs any kind of medication unless prescribed by your vet. Some vets would advise using nutritional supplements as well as prescription diets for treatment.
Proper diet and exercise are also essential for managing dog dementia. An antioxidant-rich diet paired with regular exercise can assist in maintaining cognitive function and also slow down CCD progression among senior canines.
Providing a fitting environment for a senior dog that has dementia is also critical. Additional or more focused supervision of your dogs with dementia is essential to ensure that they don’t get lost or stuck. It would be nice to place the dog essentials such as water bowls and food closer so that your dogs won’t have to move around so much and also access their needs easily.
Consistency with your dog’s daily routine is also essential. As disorientation serves as a typical symptom of dementia, it would be best to reduce anxiety among your dogs. You can do this by making regular feeding times, walks, and playtimes.
The sad truth about dog dementia is one fact that dog owners must accept. Learning or getting an early diagnosis is key to help manage or slow down its progression. Be observant of your pets and make sure that you provide for all of their needs.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction is a serious condition for senior dogs but it’s up to you as dog parents to provide a healthy and happy lifestyle and environment for your pets.