No one enjoys the thought of their dogs getting older. Watching a dog decline in later years, rising slower, moving with a bit more delicacy; most owners strive to keep their dogs as comfortable as possible in their golden years. Sometimes even the most devoted dog will let an entrance of their favorite person go by unnoticed. But what happens when that senior dog sees through their favorite person without recognition. Does it get chalked up to old age or is there more to it? What should an owner do when their dog doesn’t appear to understand simple commands? The dog may be suffering from Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, or Doggy Dementia.
There are several signs that a dog may be suffering from dementia, but unless an owner is looking for more than one or two, they could be passed off as random or silly things a dog does. Some of the more common indicators are when a dog gets “lost” in a corner, behind furniture or doors. The dog may want a drink of water and finds himself in, what he believes, to be unfamiliar territory. A dog may also forget the housetraining that never had been an issue before. Human companionship may be shunned, or the dog may shy away from being petted. Since every dog is unique, not all dogs will present with the same symptoms. If a dog begins to act odd or doesn’t quite seem like himself, it’s best to get him to the vet.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, CCD, doggy dementia, senility, eccentricity; no matter how a person spins it, the actuality is something is not quite right. Half of all dogs over the age of ten will display one or more signs of this disorder. Over time, the dementia will slowly get worse, with more symptoms appearing. The cause of this relatively new disorder appears to be plaque that grows on the brain. These plaque deposits result in cell death and brain shrinkage. Oxygen levels in the brain are diminished. If an owner suspects their dog is suffering from senility, discuss the issue with a trusted veterinarian. They can offer advice on treatments, and possible medications or herbal supplements to ease a dog’s symptoms.
Once it has been determined that the senior dog does indeed have dementia, the veterinarian may suggest the use of SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) or some other brain support supplement, with appropriate dosages. They may also recommend maintaining a regular exercise routine. Physical exercise is important for every dog at any age.
Prevention There is no cure for old age. Humans have been hunting for the proverbial fountain of youth for centuries. What may help slow down the aging process and cognitive dysfunction is a healthy, canine appropriate diet full of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s continue to keep brain synapses firing on all cylinders. Maintaining a regular exercise schedule, with both physical and mental stimulation, will help the dog remain alert and healthy. Cherish the moments he’s healthy and if his memory fails, remind him he’s loved.
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