In humans, old age often triggers a variety of changes at both the physical and mental level. These changes may take place gradually over the years, or may seem to have a sudden onset, almost out of the blue. In humans this progress in signs is mostly caused by a disease known as “Alzheimer’s disease.”
Similarly, as they age, canines also undergo a variety of changes affecting their mobility, senses, memory and general bodily functions. This canine version of Alzheimer’s disease is known in the veterinary field as “Canine Cognitive Dysfunction” or CCD. The main cause of
’” this condition appears to be the accumulation of beta amyloid in the brain, a protein responsible for damaging nerves. \ Ith time, as the build-up of this protein progresses, the
brain eventually develops plaque which interferes with the proper transmission of neurological signals.
As much as this condition sounds like bad news, the good news is that when detected at its early stages, it’s often possible to slow down the process, improving the dog’s overall brain activity.
Einstein Says: Acoording to Pfizer Phamaceutical, 62°4 of dogs aged 10 or older will develop signs of this condition.
Signs of Dementia
There are several signs that suggest the possible onset of dementia in dogs. These age-related signs are often accepted by dog owners as signs of -getting old,“ but there is a lot that dog owners can do to help their aging four-legged friends. While there is currently no diagnostic test to actually confirm the onset of dementia, most veterinarians will recognize the signs of dementia after a thorough examination and provide the most appropriate treatment plan. Following are some signs of dementia in dogs:
This condition can affect senior dogs and may leave dog owners puzzled. The dog may appear clingy, following the owner around the home. If left alone the dog may urinate or defecate, and may also develop barrier frustration, chewing at the doors and scratching at the windows. Often, this fom of anxiety develops when the dog’s senses start to fail, leaving the dog frightened of being alone. My article about Sq gy will prove a helpful read for these circumstance.
Getting Lost in the Home
Dog owners may complain their dog gets lost in the night, barking, howling and appearing disoriented. In other circumstances, the dog may stare at a comer or get blocked behind a piece of furniture. They appear confused in familiar surroundings, often appearing helpless and disoriented. Some just stare aimlessly at walls or objects as if day dreaming.
Pacing Around at Night
Senior dogs are often reported to pace around the home aimlessly for no obvious reason. This may be seen most often at night because dogs affected by Alzheimer*s also develop changes in their sleeping patterns. They may therefore be sleeping more during the day and staying awake more in the night.
Not Responding to Commands
Dogs suffering from canine dementia may also not respond as well to commands as before. However, this may also be due to hearing loss, a condition quite common in senior dogs. Owners also report that their dog is more “distant,” no longer greeting people he knows and asking for agention )ess often.
Loss of House Training
Dogs suffering from canine dementia may forget to go potty when outside and may then not be able to hold it when inside, leading to accidents. Or they may not even realize they are urinating at times. As much as this is indicative of canine dementia, it is important to have a dog exhibiting such symptoms seen by a vet, as there are several medical conditions which can cause this. A senior dog urinating on the rug may be suffering from a urinary tract infection, arthritis, lack of bladder or bowel control or other medical conditions.
If your senior dog is soiling indoors, this article may help: Senior Dog I g in the House.
Senior dogs may forget to eat and drink and must often be reminded. However, if fhere is lack of interest in food or water, a vet visit is warranted to rule out medical conditions and find a way to provide adequate nutrition. Dehydration may set in quickly if the dog does not drink enough.
From Normal Sleeper to Night Owl
Sometimes the dog may have difficulty recognizing the difference between night and day and forgets all about routines. These are the dogs who wake up at night and start having accidents around the house, or start drinking or eating in the middle of the night. After their nighttime adventure they will sleep during the day and have no daytime accidents.
Debating on Being Indoors or Outdoors
Some dogs may even forget why they are being sent outside. While before they would go out and do their business right away, now they will sniff around and ask to be let back in, wondering why they were out in the first place. Just as some dogs forget about going outside, some dogs also forget their name or that they already ate.
Memory Loss and Difficulty Recognizing the Owner
Some dogs may even forget who their owner is and may growl or act unusually timid around them. At other times they may have moments of seeming to remember. This may be very heartbreaking for the owner because the pet may appear disinterested in playing or being petted.
A Blank Stare of Seeing Imaginary Things
Dogs affected by dementia may stare at a wall or other object for no apparent reason. Some may even chase imaginary objects or bark while nothing is there. A routine veterinary check-up is recommended, as there are some neurological disorders and seizures that may cause these symptoms.
Treating for Canine Dementia
Unfortunately, there is no cure for canine dementia, but there is a medication (Anipryl) known to slow down the process. OAP diffusers may help to relax some dogs and reduce anxiety. Several steps may be taken to manage the dog’s environment as well:
Keep the dog’s routine as stable as possible.
Night lights may help dogs that become disoriented at night.
Feed foods with antioxidants, vitamin E or ask your vet about prescription diets such as Hill’s B/D. Encourage play and puzzle games as depicted in Brain Training for Dogs. Practice obedience commands and tricks if the dog responds to them. Remind the dog to eat, drink and go potty outside.
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