By Dr. Norette L. Underwood
Is Your Furry baby Showing Signs of Doggy Dementia?
If your dog gets a clean bill of health, or if your veterinarian doesn’t feel her behavior changes are the result of an underlying disease process, it’s time to consider the possibility of canine cognitive dysfunction (CD), which is similar in many ways to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in humans.
Clinical signs of cognitive dysfunction syndrome are found in 50 percent of dogs over the age of 11, and by the age of 15, 68 percent of dogs display at least one sign.
However, dogs as young as 6 years can begin to experience mental decline, so if your pet is around that age and is showing one or more symptoms of CD, don’t rule out an age-related problem. The five most common symptoms of CD are:
• Increased total amount of sleep during a 24-hour period
• Decreased attention to surroundings, disinterest, apathy
• Decreased purposeful activity
• Loss of formerly acquired knowledge, which includes housetraining
• Intermittent anxiety expressed through apprehension, panting, moaning, shivering
Other signs, especially in the later stages of CD, can include:
Failure to respond to commands and/or difficulty hearing Standing in corners or facing walls
Inability to recognize familiar people Excessive barking
Difficulty navigating familiar environments Loss of bladder or bowel control
Wandering aimlessly Confusion/disorientation
Cognitive dysfunction in a dog is a diagnosis of exclusion. There are many conditions your older pet can acquire that mimic the signs of cognitive decline, so it’s important to rule out all other physical reasons for a change in behavior.
For example, a small seizure can cause a pet to stand still and stare. If your pet seems detached, he could be in pain. Inappropriate elimination can be due to kidney disease. These disorders and many others can result in a change in behavior unrelated to cognitive decline. That’s why it’s so important to rule out all possible alternative reasons, especially in aging pets.
Doing a senior wellness exam every 6 months is a great way to make sure your aging pet is doing well. If you have questions about dementia and senior wellness contact Dr. Norette L. Underwood of Best Friends Vet Mobile and Trumann Animal Clinic at firstname.lastname@example.org or 870-483-6275.
This Doggy Dementia Article was taken from Healthy Pets by Dr. Karen Becker.