It is estimated that 30% of dogs over the age of 11 years will begin to show one or more signs of Dog Dementia, otherwise known as cognitive decline. When talking with pet owners, many commonly refer to their senior dogs’ odd behaviors as “doggy Alzheimer’s”. In fact, canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) – the veterinary definition – does actually bear a close resemblance to brain lesions found in people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. You may call your crazy cat demented at times, but realize the term cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) has been coined to validate that the same condition also affects the feline population.
SIGNS OF CCD OR DEMENTIA – Here are some common behaviors to watch out for:
- Sleeping more during the day and less at night – confused or roaming when night falls
- Peeing and pooping inside – especially if the pet has a good track record of going outside
- Interactions with people and other pets have changed
- Losing enthusiasm for toys and play
- Getting trapped under or behind furniture
- Staring off into space or at walls
- Pacing back and forth or circling in one direction
- Disorientation – for example, forgetting how to use a doggy door that they have used for years
- Becoming fearful or anxious – may attempt to bite when handled
DIAGNOSIS AND PROMISING TREATMENTS
Although the initial symptoms of the disorder are mild, they gradually worsen over time. To aid in making an accurate diagnosis, CCD experts developed the Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Rating Scale. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian since loss of vision and hearing could be the main issue. Now for some good news! The prescription drug Selegiline (in the U.S. it sells under the brand name Anipryl) – is a daily tablet that can be very effective in treating canine CCD. It works by boosting the dopamine levels in the brain. In a large study done in 2001, 70% of dogs responded positively after a month of treatment.
Holistic remedies, especially CBD oil, offer several benefits to our senior population (pets and people). We know that CBD has been proven to help brain function – showing success in the treatment of seizures and anxiety. Some believe that it could also be used as a preventive measure to protect brain functions as we age. Also, its natural anti-inflammatory properties can boost proven joint supplements, ensuring that your dog stays calm and comfortable in their senior years.
Remember that when your pet starts to exhibit cognitive dysfunction (average age eleven years but symptoms have been reported as young as eight), signs may be mild and only one single symptom. Use the power of your observations to keep notes and rate any progression using the Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Rating Scale.
Help make your pet’s golden years truly golden!