In this month’s article, we will be discussing a common condition found in canines, known as “Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome”. In simple terms, one can refer to this condition as Dog Dementia as well. Yes, this is similar to the condition that we can see in humans, as they also age with time.

This syndrome correlates with the aging of the dog’s brain, which causes them to eventually lose their sharp awareness of their surroundings, learning capabilities, responsiveness and even memory. The symptoms will first appear to be of a mild state; however, they will progress with time and unfortunately worsen and become more severe. This process is known as ‘Cognitive Decline’.

The signs of this condition are anxiety, restlessness, not wishing to play anymore, slow to learn new training, disorientation, decreased grooming, confusion, forgetting previous training, no control over urinating or defecating, sleep patterns altered, decreased appetite, excessive licking, frustration and barking. According to statistics, it is seen that at least one out of every three dogs that are over the age of ten will display at least one sign of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. If you feel that your dog may be showing any of these signs, then your veterinarian can perform a full physical examination. He or she will also need a full history of when the symptom(s) initially presented themselves, in order to conduct a proper diagnosis of this condition. Other diagnostic measures may also be performed in order to rule out any other underlying causes for such exhibiting signs.

Canines that are diagnosed with Dog Dementia will then begin a long-term treatment of supportive care for this condition. Such care will consist of improving your dog’s living environment and health in order to maintain an ideal condition for improvement. This will allow the Cognitive Decline to be delayed and not progress as quickly otherwise. Changes in exercise routine, playing time and also training, or needing to train again, will be introduced as well. Other adjustments that can be made to facilitate a dog with this condition is to provide night lights for your canine companion to navigate throughout the house easier in the dark. Place training pads near your dog so that there is a place for him or her to use the washroom in case of an emergency, where they cannot control their urination or bowel movement. Certain medications or behavioural treatments may also be advised by your veterinarian based on the individual case of your pet. Diet is also a key component to managing a better lifestyle. Certain supplements can also be added to the diet regiment in order to help with your dog’s cognitive function. Such as: Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Selenium, Beta Carotene, Carotenoids, Flavonoids, Omega-3 and Carnitine. Follow-up appointments with your veterinarian may be needed regularly.

 

 Dr. Sifti Bhullar