My little Tiger is nearly 13 and I am starting to see changes in his behavior, habits, and general health. As our dogs age, there are specific aspects of our best friends health and wellbeing that will need to be addressed. You will notice your dog slowing down, sleeping more, or perhaps he will start doing things that he has never done before.
Today I am to talk about doggy dementia. What should you be looking for in your ageing dog? Are there ways that you can slow the decline? Are there things that you can do to make your dog more comfortable? Lets take a look......
What is dog dementia?
Doggy Dementia, Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or Old Dog Syndrome as the name suggests, sometimes comes on in our dogs old age. It is a degenerative brain disease similar to Alzheimers in humans. Healthy Pets tells us that 40 percent of dogs at the age of 15 have at least one symptom, as do 68 percent of geriatric dogs. More vets are now looking out for cognitive decline in older dogs as the earlier it is diagnosed and treated, the better quality of life a dog can have.
Doggy Dementia or Canine Cognitive Dysfunction is a result of ageing of the brain. Your dogs brain undergos oxidative damage, neuronal loss, atrophy and the development of beta-amyloid plaques. These ß-amyloid plaques are also seen in human Alzheimer's sufferers. This change results in confusion, memory loss, and other symptoms relating to mental function.
Symptoms of Dog Dementia
Pet Helpful have put together a comprehensive list of symptoms that may indicate the onset of Dog dementia. If you thing that your dog is displaying any of these symptoms, see your vet or a proper diagnosis. Does your dog:
- Gets lost in familiar places
- Stands in corners
- Paces back and forth, in circles, or wanders aimlessly
- Appears lost or confused much of the time
- Barks for no reason
- Gets confused about doors; stands at the "hinge" side
- Performs repetitive behaviors
- Doesn't remember routines
- Has trouble drinking or eating (the mechanics of it)
- Stares into space or at walls
- Seeks your attention less
- Has trouble getting on her bed
- Stops responding to her name
- Is withdrawn
- Startles easily
- Trembles for seemingly no reason
- Gets trapped behind or under furniture
- Sleeps less during the night (instead, wanders around)
- Sleeps more during the day
- Gets confused about house training
- Has difficulty learning anything new
- Gets frightened of or withdraws from people she once loved
And remember, that one or two of these behaviors doesn't always mean your dog is going senile. Some time back, I was concerned that my dog was getting dementia as he was zoning out, pacing aimlessly around the room, not responding to me and generally displaying odd behavior. After some time, for whatever reason, I considered that it might be food related and triggered by a new treat that I had been buying. We removed the treat and the strange behaviour has stopped. So, don't panic but be vigilant to your dogs behaviour.
Best Natural Treatment for Dog Dementia
There are prescription medications that can help dogs recover from or slow cognitive decline or improve your dogs quality of life. Always talk to your vet about treatment and medication.
There are also many ways to treat your dog naturally. Look at things like your dogs environment, diet, exercise and mental stimulation. These are essential elements to keeping your dog healthy and mentally sharp. You may also look at your dogs diet and may dietary supplements that can be beneficial for older dog.
Here is a list of the best natural treatment for dog dementia:
Healthy Diet and Supplements
A balanced nutritional diet specific to your ageing dog will help to combat the effects of dementia . Include omega-3 essential fats, such as krill oil in your dogs diet. This is critical for your dogs cognitive health. Your dog needs a super energy source to promote mental metabolism, growth and healing. Don't over feed an older dog as excess weight will only cause problems.
Appropriate physical exercise
Always ensure your dog gets regular exercise. As your dog ages you will need to ensure that this is appropriate to their physical condition. Things to consider is interaction with other dogs as an older dog may be grumpier. Swimming is a fantastic exercise for older dogs as it is gentle on their joints but consider getting a doggy lifejacket to support your ageing dog.
Puzzles and treat toys can be great mental stimulation for older dogs. Walking in different area with different surfaces and smells can help, even taking your dog for a drive can stimulate their brains. Training and learning new tricks is great stimulation and who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks...??
Maintain a routine
If your dog is confused with the onset of doggy dementia, try to maintain familiarity at home. This may include feeding your dog at the same times, walk times and play times. Keeping your dogs bed in the same place and even furniture.
An older dog and particularly one with Canine Cognitive Syndrome will need additional supplements in their diet to slow the ageing process, mental decline and improve their quality of life. It is always best to consult your vet, a holistic vet or specialist when giving your dog supplements. Here are some that are known to help dogs with cognitive decline and ageing.
- SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) supplement is known to slow and improve mental decline
- Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) have been shown to improve brain energy metabolism and decrease the amyloid protein buildup that results in brain lesions. This can be found in coconut oil.
- Resveratrol or Japanese knotweed, can protects against free radical damage and beta-amyloid deposits
- Ginkgo biloba, gotu kola and phosphatidylserine supplement can inhibit age-related cognitive deficits.
- Omega 3's like Krill Oil or coconut oil.
What ever we can do to help our little mates live with a better quality of life if worth doing. All dogs will age and the least we can do is give a little back for all the love and companionship they have given us over the years.