Thanks to the growing awareness of dog caregivers, care for proper nutrition and veterinary care, home pets have been accompanying us for longer and longer. Increasingly often, puppies are living to such an old age that they begin to suffer from diseases resulting from the aging of the body … One such disease is dementia in a dog, also known as Alzheimer’s canine disease. What is it about and can you protect your pet from her?
Dog dementia – where does it come from?
Canine Cognitive Disfunction is a dog-like disease that manifests itself like human Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The dying of nerve cells slows down the mental functions of the quadrupeds and loses memory even of those things that the pooch learned as a youngster. Dog dementia also impairs learning ability and causes changes in animal behavior. Such pathological changes in the brain most often affect dogs over 10 years of age. Dementia usually develops gradually, but its course can be accelerated as a result of some very stressful event. Studies show that 28% of dogs aged 11-12 suffer from canine Alzheimer’s disease. Among pets older than 15 years, dementia affects up to 68% of quadrupeds!
Dog dementia – symptoms
The symptoms of dementia in a dog can be very different. They often go unnoticed for a long time, until they start to cause serious problems to the guardian of the quadruped. The biggest nuisances include getting out of the house, barking for a reason (especially in the middle of the night) and sudden aggression. Other symptoms of dementia include walking around, getting lost in familiar places, looking at space or a wall, getting stuck in tight places or in a corner of the room, or not responding to your own name and commands.
Dirty at home
Getting home is a symptom that often accompanies canine dementia. Quadrupeds affected by this disease forget about all the chastity training they underwent when they were young. They also do not remember how to signal the need to go out when needed. It can be really frustrating for the guardian of an older dog – often unaware of his pet’s ailment. Being angry at a pet will not help here …
Dementia in a dog causes that the affected dog gets lost in well-known places. Confusion in dogs is manifested by aimless circulation around the house, staring at the wall or in front of you or hanging in the corner of the room. Lost quadrupeds called for breakfast may not be able to hit the kitchen or find a bowl of food, even though it has been in the same place for 10 years. Older dogs affected by Alzheimer’s can also forget how the door opens and approach them from the hinges.
Barking, howling and squeaking for no reason is also a common sign of dementia in dogs. Domestic animals can wake up in the middle of the night and bark for a reason or scream. This behavior can be the result of the frustration or fear that an older animal feels as a result of confusion.
Dog dementia can also cause a sudden onset of aggressive behavior. Reduced tolerance due to stress, fatigue and confusion can push a quadruped into violent behavior for no apparent reason. Even the mildest pet suffering from dementia may suddenly start growling or even bite. Also, dog relations with other household members may change, especially when the pooch stops meeting his own family members. The older pooch often shuns contact and doesn’t ask for petting as usual. It can also react with fear in everyday situations.
Other symptoms of dementia
Dogs suffering from an Alzheimer’s equivalent also suffer from sleep disorders (they can sleep longer or wake up at night) and changes in appetite. They can also lick their paws passionately, not react to their own name and get lost on walks – even on a leash!
All these symptoms can also be the result of another serious illness. Therefore, the dog in whom we suspect dementia must be brought to the vet and thoroughly examined!
Dog dementia – how to treat it?
Unfortunately, no cure for dementia has yet been developed. However, there are several ways to delay aging in the brains of elderly pooches. One of them is to provide the dog with activity and simple mental challenges that support the functioning of his senses, such as giving food in interactive toys, using the olfactory mat or taking part in olfactory sports, for example in mantrailing or nostril. Also, switching an older dog to a diet suitable for dog seniors, rich in antioxidants, can help our dog stay fit for longer.