Like humans, dogs can experience cognitive decline with age. Dogs over 10 years of age are at higher risk of developing a neurodegenerative condition called canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD).
A recent study published in Scientific reports, found in any year of life after age 10 in dogs can lead to a 50 percent chance of developing CCD. The risk of CCD is about 6.5% greater in inactive dogs compared to active dogs. The new findings could help guide when a vet should check for CCD.
Dogs suffering from CCD may exhibit symptoms such as altered social interaction, memory deficits, loss of spatial awareness, and disrupted sleep. According to a press releasepast estimates of CCD have ranged from 28 percent in dogs aged 11 to 12 years to 68 percent in dogs aged 15 to 16 years.
The findings were compiled from the Dog Aging Project, a longitudinal study of aging companion dogs in the US. The study looked at 15,019 dogs. Owners were given two surveys, including the Health and Life Experience Survey (indicating physical activity) and the Dog Social and Learned Behavior Survey. Dog lifespans are classified into quarters, according to a news release.
Of the dogs surveyed, 19.5 percent were in the last quartile of their lives, 24.4 percent were in the third quartile, 27 percent were in the second and 29.1 percent were in the first quartile. And 1.4% of dogs are classified as having CCD.
According to the study authors, the odds of a dog being diagnosed with CCD increase by 68 percent for each year of life after age 10. When analyzed based on factors such as breed type, health problems, neutering and activity levels, the chance of diagnosis is 52 percent for each year of life after 10.
The researchers also showed that dogs with lower activity levels were 6.47% more likely to develop CCD than highly active dogs. However, this does not prove that lack of exercise and activity is the cause of CCD, but it may mean that CCD leads to inactivity.
According to the study, more research is needed. The researchers hope that this study can help scientists better understand cognitive decline in aging people and find ways to better treat it.