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Dog dementia is more common than owners realise

Dog dementia is more common than owners realise
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Vets typically refer to dog dementia as canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD). Overall, the incidence of CCD is 15 to 30 per cent, says veterinarian Ashley Rossman. “It’s often under diagnosed,” says Melissa Bain, a professor of clinical animal behaviour. On average, most dogs are diagnosed at eight years old. In a study conducted by Bain, 28 per cent of dogs aged 11 to 12 and 68 per cent of dogs 15 to 16 showed one or more signs of cognitive impairment.

Here are the signs to watch for – and what you can do to help your dog.

Your dog doesn’t seem to be able to focus anymore

Your dog doesn’t seem to be able to focus anymore
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Even though dementia in a dog can’t be officially diagnosed, certain signs can indicate your dog might be suffering from this condition that causes a decline in cognitive function. The best way to tell? Watch your dog’s behaviour. “Specific behavioural alterations can indicate your dog may have dementia,” says Rossman. Aimless wandering or pacing and staring into space are two of the biggies.

Your dog doesn’t want to interact as much

Your dog doesn’t want to interact as much
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Whether it’s with you, other members of the family or canine buddies, decreased social interaction is one of the telltale signs of dog dementia, Rossman says.

But don’t mix being antisocial up with your dog just wanting a bit of alone time.

Your dog is more fearful or anxious

Your dog is more fearful or anxious
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One of the main clinical signs of dementia involves being a little more scared of things that may not have bothered your dog in the past. Your dog might even show signs of separation anxiety and follow you around the house more closely, according to the journal for International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants (IAABC).

Your dog is having issues going through doors

Your dog is having issues going through doors
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Clumsiness can strike with age – and with dementia. It can be part of a disorder called dysthymia, according to experts at Washington State University, and it may mean that your dog has trouble figuring out her way around furniture or through doors or other spaces.

Cancer symptoms in your hound can be quite subtle. Here are 12 warning signs that your dog may have cancer.

Your dog is becoming more aggressive

Your dog is becoming more aggressive
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According to the IAABC, dogs with dementia can become aggressive towards people or other pets they know, possibly because they no longer recognise them.

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Your dog has accidents in the house

Your dog has accidents in the house
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Your dog may not have had toileting issues since she was a puppy. Yet with dementia, she might relieve herself in the house, even if she’s just gone outside, says Bain.

Your dog wanders at night

Your dog wanders at night
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Your dog may have snoozed all through the night for most of his life. Dementia, however, can cause sleep changes, says Bain, including being up all night and sleeping during the day, or not sleeping well throughout the night.

Treating and managing dog dementia

Treating and managing dog dementia
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“There are diets and supplements available that slow the progression of the disease,” Bain says. One prescription antidepressant drug called Anipryl is licensed to treat CCD and has shown some success in decreasing some of the signs that dogs demonstrate. Other treatments like supplements with antioxidants, L-carnitine or omega-3 have been shown to have some positive effects, Rossman says.

As with humans dementia patients, pet parents must learn to be patient. “This is a very trying and difficult disease, and it’s best to be as patient as possible with your dog,” Rossman says, adding that now isn’t the time to change anything in your dog’s schedule. Keep the routines as consistent as possible.

Routines are good for old dogs and young dogs alike. Here are 10 things your dog should be doing every day.

Simple changes that can help

Simple changes that can help
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Drugs and supplements can only go so far in helping your dog and you manage this devastating disease. Yet there are things you can do to address the changes you’re seeing in behaviour, Bain says. For starters, make sure that your house is safe, which means you may have to pull out the baby gates again. Also, treat them like a puppy by taking them outside frequently to go to the toilet and going out with them; when your dog does eliminate outside, reward her. You might even keep your dog somewhat confined when you can’t supervise her to avoid any issues with eliminating inside. Finally, try to keep her active during the day so she’s more likely to sleep through the night.

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Source: RD.com

 

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