One of the most common problems that senior dogs face, pet dementia can be a subtle yet highly uncomfortable and confusing issue to deal with. Much like in humans, dog dementia can result in memory loss and our pups behaving differently.
However, because they are unable to vocalise their discomfort well, it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose dementia. Yet the impact on their quality of life can be huge if left undiagnosed and unmanaged.
Let’s take a look at what dog dementia is, how to spot it and how to treat dementia in dogs.
What is Senior Dementia in Dogs?
Formally known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), doggy Alzheimer’s isn’t just a singular disease. Rather, it’s a combination of many symptoms that result in changes in your pup’s mood, behaviour and memory.
As your pup ages, they become more and more susceptible to varying degrees of dog dementia. Studies have even shown that 28% of dogs aged 11 to 12 display signs of dementia. When they turn 15 to 16, the likelihood of them having pet dementia jumps to 68%.
But in general, there are four main types of CCD:
Involutive Depression: Much like chronic depression in people. Pups with Involutive Depression may experience mood changes and anxiety
Dysthymia: With Dysthymia, pups are likely to experience a lot of confusion, disorientation and may lose awareness of their body
Hyper-aggressiveness: This type of dog dementia involves dysfunction of structures related to Serotonin, the natural hormones that help your dog stay happy
Confusional Syndrome: Similar to Alzheimer’s in humans, Confusional Syndrome can result in a major decline in your dog’s cognitive functions
Regardless of the type, dog dementia is generally caused by changes in the brain. However, the complete cause of dementia is still a mystery although dog dementia supplements like Dom & Cleo’s Wild Fish Oil Dog Supplements for cognitive function may help lower your pup’s risk.
Symptoms of Senior Dementia
Some common symptoms of dog dementia include:
- Defecating or Urinating outside where they normally go
- Getting lost or disoriented in the house
- Barking for no reason
- Trying to enter from the wrong side of the door
- Not interacting with people or other pets
- Lack of appetite
- Lower threshold for aggressive, generally more aggressive
- Anxious behaviour like pacing or other repetitive behaviour in dogs
- Irregular sleeping patterns
- Staring at the wall
Many of these symptoms are a result of increased confusion or disorientation, such as forgetting where they should go potty or even forgetting where in the home they are. This confusion may lead to anxiety and fear causing anxious behaviours like licking or pacing.
For pet parents dealing with these symptoms, use Unicharm’s Dog Diapers to make sure they don’t make a mess where they shouldn’t.
Preventing and Slowing Senior Dementia in Dogs
If your pup experiences any of the above symptoms, make sure to get them to a veterinarian quickly as these symptoms could also be a result of other conditions. If your vet does diagnose your pup with dog dementia, don’t lose hope!
While there is no canine cognitive dysfunction treatment, you can help potentially delay or slow these changes as your pup ages. Start with getting your pup some healthy supplements like Wholistic Pet’s Coconut Oil Support Dog Supplements. Certified 100% Organic, these supplements help support your dog’s skin and coat, while boosting their metabolism and immune system.
Another great way is organising activities for dementia patients. Exercise your pup’s brain by teaching them new tricks and play with them regularly especially with interactive toys like Outward Hound’s Nina Ottosson Smart Interactive Dog Toy. Most importantly, ensure they get enough exercise. Keeping your pup mentally and physically active is key to helping them stay healthy.
Managing Dementia in Dogs
Of course, it’s also important to understand how you can manage some of the symptoms that come with Senior Dementia with dogs.
Other than using dog diapers as previously mentioned, you can also try and move your pup’s toys and bed and set up gates/barriers to prevent your pup from entering carpeted areas. You can also leave pee pads on the floor, especially in areas your pup normally hangs out in to mitigate these accidents.
Another good way to reduce the number of house training accidents is to bring them outside more often. Whatever happens, avoid scolding them for making a mess. The process of aging and dealing with dementia is confusing and scary and will require a lot of patience on your part.
Dogs with dementia can also experience disruptions in their sleep schedule and may howl, bark or pace around in the middle of the night. If your pup experiences this, talk to your vet about medications or other strategies to help your pup sleep better.
If you’re not able to play with your pup as regularly as you’d like to, make good use of interactive toys like KONG’s Foragers Dumbbell Dog Toy. Put a few tasty snacks in the toy for your pup to try and paw out.
Plus, if your pup has the opportunity to, plenty of interactions and socializations with other dogs can help keep their minds fresh.
Tammi writes articles about anything from data analytics to animal health, and loves doing the occasional craft. But most importantly, she loves hanging out and doing photo-shoots with her dog.