A dog living with a sedentary lifestyle can lead to chronic conditions such as arthritis, obesity, and dementia. Yes, just like humans, our canine companions can also get affected with cognitive dysfunction. How do you know if your pooch is suffering from dementia? How do you care for a dog with dementia?
Although there is no specific cause, there are a few factors that make some dogs more susceptible to canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) or dog dementia:
- Abnormalities in the brain cells
- Decreased dopamine production
- Less blood transmitted to the brain
Some claim that there are certain dog breeds prone to dementia; however, it is yet to be scientifically proven.
28% of dogs aged 11 to 12 and 68% of dogs aged 15 to 16 are known to exhibit at least one sign related to CCD. Although dementia is a common health condition in old dogs, it is not considered as a normal phase in ageing. It is a problem that should be addressed early on.
Affected canines are observed having cellular changes of abnormal neurofibrillary tangles and shrinkage of the brain. These portions of the brain are vitally responsible for memories and shaping of behaviours, and when they are damaged, it leads to a serious problem.
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Spotting early symptoms of dog dementia
It is believed that a dog may manifest with only one symptom and can have more over the course of his years. Dr Denise Petryk, a former emergency room vet, advised dog owners to immediately take their pets to the vet upon spotting one or more symptoms of dementia.
Does your dog noticeably go to the wrong door? Does he go to familiar hiding spots and does not know how to get himself out? Is he staring at the wall instead of doing his usual routine? Affected dogs may appear unreactive and distant.
Is your dog showing signs of dog dementia aggression instead of his usual friendly and sociable personality? Does he withdraw himself with his favourite activities? Does he appear uninterested in dog walks? These are usually the first few signs of dog dementia.
- House Soiling
Does your house-trained dog suddenly urinate and defaecate inside? There may be changes in behaviour due to memory loss.
- Activity level
Is your dog doing repetitive actions such as walking in circles and head bobbing? Does he pant, whine, or bark at inappropriate times?
- Sleep-wake cycle changes
Have you noticed erratic sleeping patterns? Has he been awake all night or sleeping excessively? A common sign of cognitive dysfunction includes interference in his circadian rhythms.
Living life with dog dementia
Their quality of life may be put at risk when living with cognitive dysfunction. The good news is that there are things you can do to help your pooch to still maintain a quality life.
- Your pooch does not have to face dementia alone. Make sure to be there for him to provide physical comfort.
- Expose him to external stimulations such as car rides, dog park visits, and playtime sessions with other dogs. Be sure to do activities in your company and keep in mind the limits of his physical abilities whilst exercising.
- Make all necessary things easily accessible to him such as his sleeping bed or crate, food, water bowls, and others.
- Do not chastise him for accidentally peeing or pooing in the wrong area. This is part of dementia and is essentially not within his control.
- It is important to keep track of any health and behavioural changes that you can easily report to your vet for the next appointment.
- If you have to leave your dog alone, provide him with a more secure and restricted space to relieve him from possible episodes of disorientation.
Dog dementia treatment
Unfortunately, there is no cure for canine dementia. However, there are dog dementia supplements that help improve the symptoms and quality of life of patients.
Upon the confirmation of your dog’s diagnosis, your vet will likely introduce appropriate medical drugs including Selegiline hydrochloride and Propentofylline. Natural supplements that can be taken in combination with the vet’s prescription are as follows:
- Melatonin restores your dog’s sleeping patterns.
- Coconut oil has a rich content of medium-chain triglycerides that benefit the brain. However, the dosage should be kept in minimal dosage, especially if he is susceptible to pancreatitis. Vulnerable breeds include miniature poodle, miniature schnauzer, and cocker spaniel.
- Omega-3 found in fish oil, flaxseed oil, and others aid a dog’s cognitive health.
- Thundershirt offers a sense of relief on over 80% of dogs with anxiety. It is important to seek out advice with your vet first before giving anything to your furry companion.
Dog dementia preventive measures
Let us evaluate factors that cause chronic inflammation, which is one of the leading causes of damage to the brain.
Avoid unnecessary and unsafe dog vaccinations. Technically, the process of vaccination may undergo a replacement of healthy cells with a very unhealthy, chronically inflamed humoral hyperpolarised immune system.
Processed foods cause inflammation. Such packed foods contain synthetic vitamins and minerals. This also includes carbs, starch, and sugar. Provide a healthier option for your pooch, especially with his dietary nutrition intake. Feed him with a well-balanced diet rich in essential fatty acids.
Live an active lifestyle with your dogs. Keeping their brains active contributes to the slow degeneration of their nerve processes. Engage them in regular exercise and dog sports such as agility courses.
Unusual behaviour in dogs might be frustrating and depressing at the same time. However, any changes should be taken seriously as it can be an indicative sign of dog dementia. Face this condition with nutritional and medical support and proper mental and physical stimulation to give them a better quality of life.