Canine cognitive dysfunction is a behavioral condition that occurs in older patients and is like Alzheimer’s in people. A recent study done at the University of California showed that this syndrome affected 32% of 11-year-old dogs and 100% of dogs over 16 years of age. The disease has a gradual onset, and most people fail to recognize early signs and chalk it up to the normal aging process.
Canine cognitive dysfunction symptoms:
- excessive vocalization
- accidents in the house
- decreased interaction with family members
- wake-sleep cycle disturbances
Like Alzheimer’s patients, canine cognitive dysfunction occurs due to a buildup of a specific type of protein called amyloid in the brain.
Several treatment options are available. Since we are unable to reverse the amyloid deposits already present it is important to start treatment early to prevent further deposition of this protein. We can’t make the amyloid deposits go away, but we can help prevent more buildup which will help decrease the symptoms.
- Purina Bright Minds is a diet that helps promote alertness and mental sharpness in dogs over 7 years old. I recommend this as the first line of defense, especially when symptoms are mild.
- Purina Neurocare is a prescription diet that was developed to support cognitive support in dogs.
- A drug by the name of Anipryl (selegiline) is FDA approved for the treatment of this disease.
- There are a variety of dietary supplements such as antioxidants and fatty acids that can help.
- You can teach your old dog new tricks! If he can’t hear then teach him hand signals and if he can’t see, then teach him by touch or smell.
A two-year study showed the combined effect of a special diet and enriched environment provided the greatest improvement in learning ability when compared to the dogs that did not have either dietary or environmental enrichment.
If your pet is showing symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction contact Guthrie Pet Hospital for a full physical and diagnostic testing to determine the cause.