Are there any signs of ageing dog?
Senior dog stairs blankly at the wall?
Seems confused and disoriented?
Senior dog pacing at night?
Lost his vitality?
Dog dementia, canine dementia or dog Alzheimer – clinically known as canine cognitive dysfunction can be an issue.
Dog are great pets; therefore we love them. There are well known therapy dogs for anxiety, autism, or providing therapy for the elderly. But there might be point in time, when your own dog needs a treatment, just because he reached the point of senior age.
To get old it is a natural thing. There are certain ways how to fight with it and keep your dog vital.
Do dogs get senile dementia?
Doggy dementia is very similar to man´s dementia. My grandma has had a small mongrel dog, who used to run outside the house his whole life. After he reach certain age, I guess it was around 15 years (I can tell you, he was tough), we started to notice some changes in his behaviour.
He was getting more and more passive and had issues to respond to his name. We needed to clap our hands to get his attention, as he almost completely lost his sense of hearing. As those are symptoms of a dog, that is “just getting old”, we went to vet once he started to pace back and forth and became quite confused and disoriented on a house yard, where he has spent his whole life.
The signs of age-related cognitive impairment can be imperceptible, but brain aging is a progressive process and the indications are likely to worsen with time.
Signs & symptoms of dog dementia
As in many aspects, dogs are just like human. And after certain age, which might be very individual for each dog, breed, or dog´s lifestyle, you might notice some common symptoms:
- Sleep disturbances (sleeps less during the night, more during the day)
- Dog seems confused and disoriented
- Dog stairs blankly at the wall
- Passive behaviour such as staring at walls or standing in corners
- Wanders aimlessly
- Unusual anxiety – frightened of well-known people
- Lower threshold for aggression
- Decreased activity and attention levels
- Vocalization for no obvious reason (howling, barking or whining)
- Repetitive behaviours
- Appears lost, or getting lost in the familiar places
- Does not remember the routine
- Pacing at night
- Loosing sense of hearing and sight
If you see one or more of listed symptoms, don’t start to panic. It might not mean straight away, that your dog is getting senile. It might be sign of food related problem or illness. Be watchful to your dog’s behaviour and if you are not sure about the cause, go to see vet.
But getting old doesn’t have to be as stressful as all that. There exist few things to give your dog back in the fall of his life, what he gave you his whole life.
What can I do to keep my old dog vital?
There are certain ways what you can do to mitigate the effects of dog dementia.
Identify the symptoms of dog dementia
The early signs of canine cognitive dysfunction can be subtle and difficult to detect. Early identification might be very helpful – especially if you recognized appearance of the symptoms listed above.
Stick to a routine
Make sure you have a strict schedule when it comes to feeding, walking, turning lights on and off, and bedtime. Make sure you do not move dogs bed or any furniture around it, especially when they find themselves awake and alone in the middle of the night.
Keep the familiar places really familiar, because to maintain a routine can be excellent therapy for confused dogs and keep your pet away from stress.
Provide regular exercise
During your walks, consider also facts such as limiting the interaction with other pets or starting to use a dog lead. If your dog has hearing and vision difficulties, getting a jacket to increase his visibility might be clever idea.
Regular exercise on a fresh air keeps your dog in form.
Balanced nutrition specific to your ageing dog
Similar to humans, antioxidants in the diet may promote cognitive health and slow the process of dementia.
Dog food for aging dogs should be a well-rounded energy source helps fight age-related behaviour changes in older dogs, especially if they lost their appetite. Make sure you don’t over feed an older dog as weight increase will lead to further healthy problems.
Dog dementia medical treatment
Veterinarians might advise or prescribe medications that can help to recover from the symptoms or improve the quality of dog’s life.
The most common are tablets called Anipryl, containing selegiline hydrochloride, also known as L-deprenyl. The drug has very good effects in dogs treatment and is also used in humans for treatment of Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, & Cushing’s Disease.
Visit a Veterinary Behaviourist
According Vetstreet.com the most complex approach to canine cognitive dysfunction involves the assistance of a veterinary behaviourist. These specialists can usually help owners improved the life quality of your senior dogs.
Life expectancy of dog with dementia
How long does my dog have?
That is hard to answer, as it depends on the frequency and time of onset of symptoms. Dogs in the mild stage had generally not been identified by their owners as having any problems.
However, dogs in moderate stage of cognitive dysfunction have obvious behaviour changes. The signs typically get worse often quite quickly. So, to provide friendly environment, balanced nutrition, exercise and love are the best things that we can offer to our ageing dogs.
I am sure they deserve it, especially for their endless devotion and kindness they have given us over the years.
Please note: This article has been provided for informational purposes only. If your pet is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible.