signs of dementia in dogsRecognizing Signs of Dementia in Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide

Recognizing Signs of Dementia in Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide

Although many dog ​​owners may not be aware of it, our canine friends can also develop dementia.

Dementia in dogs — also known as canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome – often follows a similar pattern of development as in humans, says Gary Landsberg, a veterinary behaviorist and senior veterinary science director at the research organization CanCog.

Read more: We are not alone: ​​Animals also suffer from mental health problems

“Dogs have neurodegenerative diseases that develop with age,” he says. “It can be progressive … but as with the human condition, it doesn’t always progress to more severe dementia.”

Warning signs of dementia in dogs

While symptoms depend on the individual dog, there are some common signs that pet owners should be on the lookout for. Landsberg used the acronym BREATHESmeaning disorientation, interactions, sleep, soiling the house, and changes in activity.

In other words, dogs can become trapped in rooms they otherwise know; become moody or depressed; sleep more or less; they forget their studies; or become more anxious.

“Some of these social interactions and changes in activity are some of the first people can notice,” says Landsberg. Depending on the severity of the case, the dog may show a few or many symptoms.

Landsberg also emphasizes that many of these signs can be symptoms of other health problems: “All of these signs can be early warning signs of disease or cognitive dysfunction and should therefore be reported to the veterinarian and diagnosed as such,” he says. .

But it can be further complicated, says Sarah Walsh, a veterinary nurse at the UK-based charity PDSA. Sometimes owners simply associate these symptoms of cognitive dysfunction with old age.

Read more: What old dogs can teach us about aging

“Many pets with dementia may seem to get lost in familiar places or sometimes even become trapped in rooms because they forget how to get out,” she says. “A lot of people would naturally think it’s an ‘old dog change’ and it’s nothing like that.” [they] can do to help them.’

After the diagnosis of dementia

However, with an accurate diagnosis, this is not necessarily the case. Although there is no “cure” for dementia, as in humans, there is ways to treat symptoms — and possibly delay the onset of severe cases.

Maintaining a nutritious diet is one example. “There are also supplements you can give to support healthy brain function and special prescription diets that aim to do the same thing and just keep the brain as healthy as possible,” says Walsh.

Keeping dogs active and mentally stimulated — by using reward training or enrichment toys, for example — is another way to support healthy cognitive function, according to Landsberg. “I think very simply it’s diet and nutrition and fortification and maybe drugs, of which there are only a few drugs out there,” he says.

But the most important thing for pet owners to do, both experts agree, is to consult a veterinarian if they notice the above changes in your dog.

“When your pet reaches middle age—6, 7, or 8 years old—it’s time to start seeing your vet twice a year,” says Landsberg. “It’s time to start reporting all the signs that change from normal adulthood.”

He also points out online resources that owners can use to evaluate changes. Such regular assessments can help identify any onset of dementia or other health problems and ensure targeted treatment is administered as soon as possible.

“Can not be really scary to get that diagnosis as a pet owner,” Walsh admits. “But most dogs can have a good quality of life once diagnosed.”

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