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Canine Cognitive Dysfunction: You CAN Reduce Your Pet’s Suffering

Written by: Molly Weinfurter
Molly Weinfurter is a writer for iHeartDogs, and she’s passionate about helping animals in need. She volunteers for Bailing Out Benji and a local dog rescue.Read more
| Published on January 5, 2024

Reviewed by: Dr. Theresa Fossum

Reviewed by:

Dr. Theresa Fossum

Meet Dr. Theresa (Terry) W. Fossum, DVM, MS. Ph.D., Diplomate ACVS – a remarkable animal lover whose passion for animal care and innovative solutions has left an indelible mark on the veterinary world. As the CEO of both Phoenix Animal Wellness and Epic Veterinary Specialists, she's ensuring dogs and cats receive the highest level of care and compassion.Read more

One of the most common health risks senior dogs face is canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) or doggy dementia. This condition poses substantial challenges for pets and pet parents alike. Yet, many dogs suffer from CCD without their owners being aware that their dog is affected.

The Struggle is Real (for you and your dog)

If your senior dog is showing signs of dementia, we understand your struggles. We know it’s heartbreaking to watch your furry friend deal with this disease. Initially, you may think your dog is simply getting old but when they begin pacing, whining, circling, and acting confused, it’s often CCD, not simply aging that’s to blame. The good news is that it’s treatable.

Senior dog lying down

Dan the Lab’s Journey with Doggy Dementia

Dr. Theresa (Terry) Fossum, a seasoned board-certified veterinary surgeon with a wealth of experience in the field of veterinary medicine, affectionately cared for her own aging Labrador named Dan. Around two years ago, she noticed the first signs of cognitive dysfunction in her beloved companion. Dr. Fossum felt helpless as she witnessed her own dog’s cognitive decline. 

Unfortunately, like most pet parents, Dr. Fossum found it difficult to find a safe and effective remedy for Dan the Lab. When Dr. Fossum was researching cognitive function support products for Dan, she found several options that “claimed” they could solve Dan’s issues.

She found these companies difficult to trust because they were not created by veterinarians, nor were they backed by science. Moreover, Dr. Fossum had concerns about the side effects of conventional drugs.

The Creation of CogniCaps

To help Dan, Dr. Fossum and Veterinary Neurologist, Dr. Curtis Dewey developed a new product to treat and prevent signs of dementia in dogs. This supplement is a combination of nine ingredients that have been shown to improve brain health. CogniCaps™ has ingredients sourced from conventional Western nutraceuticals and Chinese (holistic) herbals; each ingredient was selected based on relevant research and/or clinical trial evidence of efficacy and tolerability.

Person holding Dr. Fossum's CogniCaps

No, Humans Can’t Take CogniCaps, It’s for Your Dog!

Our CogniCaps supplement was designed to enhance a dog’s brain function and brain activity while supporting cognitive function and nerve cell conduction. If you think your dog might be showing signs of doggy dementia, you can fill out Dr. Fossum’s survey to find out.

Learn more about CogniCaps by watching this on-demand webinar. There’s also a published study in a veterinary medical journal that shows a 38% improvement in cognitive scores in 30 days. 

This is a recent testimonial that we received:

“Just want to express gratitude for a great product that works. Rosie’s ‘sundown’ symptoms are almost 95% managed. Rosie used to climb on me, dig, and bark at different times of the day and night (mostly night). Now she may have some symptoms about 2x month, but nothing like before.” Thank you, Maria V.

Rosie relaxing at night

Consider Dr. Fossum’s Pet Care for Your Dog’s Needs

If your dog is suffering from a serious condition like CCD, they deserve the best care possible. Dr. Fossum’s Pet Care provides supplements you can trust because they are made by and recommended by veterinarians. Using Dr. Fossum’s CogniCaps could help your dog live a happier and healthier life. Coupon Code: LOVE30 to get 30% off your first order!

In Addition to CogniCaps™, What Else Can I Do for My Dog with CCD?

Cognitive enrichment, such as regular exercise, social interactions, and the introduction of new toys, has been shown to improve cognitive function in dogs with CCD and prevent or delay cognitive decline in dogs as they age. Examples of cognitive enrichment activities for dogs include puzzle toys, scent games, hide-and-seek, clicker training, and interactive feeding methods. It’s essential to tailor these activities to your individual dog’s preferences, capabilities, and physical health. Your dog is an intelligent and curious animal and providing them with opportunities to use their mind can have numerous benefits, especially as they age. 

What Should I Feed My Dog with CCD?

In both human Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dog CCD, diet choices and dietary supplements have a substantial impact on the development and progression of cognitive decline. Both dietary risk factors and preventive factors have been identified for AD in people, and these are suspected to be similar in CCD.

Diets enriched with carnitine, lipoic acid, long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, vegetable-based carotenoids, vitamin E, and vitamin C may be beneficial. Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) may also help as they provide an alternative energy source for the brain in cognitively impaired dogs. There are several commercial diets available that contain some of these dietary supplements. 

Some naturally occurring phytochemicals such as curcumin appear to hold promise as treatment options for CCD. Oral S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) was shown to be effective in improving clinical signs of mental decline in dogs with CCD in a randomized, placebo-controlled study. Phosphatidylserine, a membrane phospholipid, showed some efficacy in improving cognitive function in dogs with CCD in several clinical trials.

Try Dr. Fossum's CogniCaps

What Other Products Does Dr. Fossum’s Pet Care Offer?

Dr. Fossum’s Pet Care products are highly effective with minimal side effects for dogs, cats, and horses. In addition to CogniCaps™, Dr. Fossum’s Pet Care offers a new, unique anti-itch soothing spray, a pill hider dog treat, a wound care treatment, and broad-spectrum hemp extracts. Dr. Fossum has recently formulated an amazing cardiac support product, which was formulated with the help of Dr. Matt Miller, a veterinary cardiologist, and includes unique ingredients to improve heart health in your dog. This product will be available soon, so please check back if you have a dog at risk of heart disease. 

How Common is Doggy Dementia?

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), also known as doggy dementia, is more common than pet parents realize. Reportedly between 14% and 35% of the canine population develop it; these numbers are likely an underestimation because many dog owners don’t realize that their dog is suffering from CCD. Instead, they believe the signs they’re seeing are simply due to old age and thus they don’t seek help and the disease goes unreported.

The odds of your dog having CCD increases with age. Small and toy breeds showing signs as early as 8-10 years and large breeds may show signs as early as 5-6 years.

Senior dog in bed

How do I tell if my dog has CCD?

Distinguishing between normal aging in dogs and CCD can be challenging because some degree of cognitive decline is a natural part of the aging process. However, there are specific signs and patterns of behavior that can help differentiate CCD from typical age-related changes. Normal aging usually involves mild changes in behavior and cognitive function, whereas CCD is characterized by more pronounced and progressive symptoms.

If you notice a sudden and significant decline in your dog’s cognitive abilities or behavior, it might indicate CCD. While older dogs may experience some slowing down or minor changes in behavior, they can generally continue their regular routines. Dogs with CCD, on the other hand, may have difficulty performing daily activities they once did effortlessly, such as finding their food bowl or getting to familiar places. Surveys to determine the severity of your dog’s cognitive dysfunction are available (see and these surveys may also be used to track response to therapy.

CCD often leads to behavioral changes that go beyond what’s typical for an aging dog. These changes may include increased anxiety, aggression, restlessness, or disorientation. While older dogs may sleep more as they age, dogs with CCD may experience disruptions in their sleep-wake cycle, leading to increased nighttime activity and restlessness. Occasional accidents can happen in aging dogs, but frequent house soiling or loss of housetraining may indicate CCD.

Normal aging doesn’t usually significantly affect a dog’s interest in their environment, family members, or daily activities. Dogs with CCD might become withdrawn, show reduced interest in their surroundings, and have decreased interactions with family members or other pets. While older dogs may take longer to learn new things, they can still retain previously learned commands and routines. Dogs with CCD may struggle to remember familiar cues and may have difficulty learning new commands or tricks. Engaging in repetitive behaviors like pacing, circling, or wall-staring can be a sign of CCD rather than typical aging.

Senior dog in the grass

If you observe significant changes in your dog’s behavior, cognition, or daily activities, it’s crucial to consult a veterinarian. A professional evaluation can help determine whether the changes are due to normal aging or if there’s an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed. Early detection and appropriate management can lead to a better quality of life for dogs with cognitive dysfunction.

Symptoms of CCD

The biggest symptoms of doggy dementia are similar to symptoms of sundowners syndrome. Every dog with CCD experiences it differently, but keep an eye out for these behaviors:

  • Disorientation/confusion, such as pacing or staring at blank walls
  • Behavior changes, such as loss of appetite, loss of energy, or excessive licking
  • Difficulties sleeping at night
  • Anxiety-related issues, such as not responding to training cues
  • Urinating or defecating in inappropriate places

Pet parents witnessing the above symptoms should consult their veterinarian to find out if CCD is the cause. For example, dogs may urinate in inappropriate places if they have a bladder infection so a thorough examination by your veterinarian can help rule out other causes of similar signs and confirm a diagnosis of CCD.

Dr. Fossum’s Qualifications

Dr. Terry Fossum is a board-certified veterinary surgeon, practicing for the past 35 years. Dr. Fossum wrote the textbook on Small Animal Surgery. Her book is a cornerstone icon in the veterinary community and has been translated into numerous languages, and most veterinarians around the world use it. She travels to give lectures to veterinarians all over the world, having given thousands of lectures worldwide over the past two decades.

With so much background in the veterinary field, she was able to create pet supplements that dog parents can trust and feel confident giving to their senior dogs. She cares deeply about pets and wants to ensure her products help pets in need.

Dr. Fossum with dog

Dr. Fossum’s Pet Care?

Dr. Fossum’s Pet Care is a trusted natural pet wellness company founded by world-renowned veterinarian, Dr. Terry Fossum. Dr. Fossum is a world-renowned veterinarian who founded Dr. Fossum’s Pet Care to offer science-based, natural products that you can trust.

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