Dementia In Dogs
Is your aging dog showing some curious behavior changes? Dementia and senility are broad terms used to describe these changes. In dogs, the disease is generally called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome and it affects a growing number of senior dogs. Cognitive Dysfunction syndrome is a condition related to the aging of a dog’s brain, which ultimately leads to changes in awareness, deficits in learning and memory, and decreased responsiveness to stimuli.
Symptoms of Dementia in Dogs
- Vocalizing more than usually
- Slow to learn new tasks
- Inability to follow familiar routesLack of self-grooming
- Loss of recognition of people and places
- Decreased interaction with people and other animals
- Forgetting learned behaviors eg. house training
Causes of Dementia in Dogs
An exact cause of dementia in dogs is not known. Most likely, brain function is affected by the physical and chemical changes that occur along with the aging process. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction is associated with the depletion of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Because a precise cause is not known, it is difficult to discuss prevention. However, keeping your dog active and mentally stimulated by teaching fun tricks, playing games, exercising and participating in various activities together might help keep his mind sharp.
Diagnosing Dementia in Dogs
If your dog is showing signs of senility or dementia, it is important that you visit your veterinarian for a check-up. Your vet will go over your dog’s history with you in great detail and conduct a thorough examination of your dog before reaching a diagnosis. Then, your vet may recommend some diagnostic tests to check for other health problems. Routine blood tests, ultrasounds, and X-rays are also employed to rule out other diseases that may lead to behavioral changes associated with cognitive dysfunction syndrome.
Treatment of Dementia in Dogs
Dogs with this cognitive dysfunction syndrome require lifelong therapy and support. However, your help can make a world of difference when it comes to improving your dog’s cognitive functions. In addition to medication and behavioral therapy, your veterinarian may suggest employing a special, balanced diet to improve the dog’s cognitive function; i.e., memory, learning ability, etc. This diet is also typically supplemented with antioxidants, vitamin E and C, selenium, flavonoids, beta-carotene, carotenoids, Omega-3, and carnitine all considered excellent for improving the dog’s cognitive functions.
Most importantly, keep your patience and compassion. Your dog’s world has changed, but every effort should be made to show her that your love, respect, and pride in her past and present abilities has not changed and never will.