Can Dogs Get Dementia? Proper Care for Senior Dogs

Can dogs get dementia

If your dog does not remember the path of your regular walk, or if they don’t enjoy the things they used to do, like greeting you at the door or chasing their favorite ball, they may be suffering from canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) or the doggy equivalent of dementia. But is it possible? Can dogs get dementia?

Yes, dogs can get dementia. Dementia in dogs is also known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD). It is a cognitive disorder in dogs similar to the condition of Alzheimer’s in humans. CCD is a condition related to aging of your dog’s brain, which leads to changes in behavior and mainly affects your dog’s memory, comprehension, and learning skills. As aging is a vital process in every living being and cannot be reversed, this disorder, once diagnosed, cannot be cured.

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Is Dog Dementia or CCD Common?

demntia dogs
Photo credit: Dog Central

Dog dementia or CCD is a term for the neurological condition of your dog which leads to the declination of mental abilities. This disorder is in fact very common, and most dog owners neglect this canine mental condition. Many owners assume that their dog’s odd behaviors are due to normal aging when, in fact, the dog is developing CCD. Because of this, many cases of CCD are never diagnosed.

Studies also measured the prevalence of CCD to be from 14 to over 60 percent among dogs over the age of eight. It has been proven that the risk of your dog getting dementia increases with their age. This study confirmed that 20% of dogs from 11-12 years old had exhibited at least one symptom while 68% of the dogs belonging to 15-16 years age group showed more than one symptom.

How Is Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) Similar to Human Alzheimer’s?

CCD is similar to Alzheimer’s seen in humans, in many aspects.  Dogs with CCD and humans with Alzheimer’s both get “beta-amyloid plaques.” These are tissues that block the communication between neurons in the brain. However, cognitive dysfunction in dogs does not progress as much as Alzheimer’s does in humans because dogs have shorter lifespans than humans. Both of these disorders have many similar symptoms.

Symptoms of CCD

dog dementia
Photo Credit: CBS 58

The symptoms of CCD are classified under the acronym: DISHA

  • Disorientation, your dog may appear lost or confused even in familiar surroundings
  • Interaction with the owner and other pets at home may be changed due to anxiety.
  • Sleeping routine alteration, changes in sleep routine like night waking, and/or sleeping during daylight.
  • House soiling, your dog may develop the habit of defecating and urinating indoors.
  • Activity level alterations, your dog may experience decrease in the desire to play.

Other symptoms include:

  • They learn new tricks at a slower pace than usual.
  • You may also notice your dog staring at the wall.
  • They will lack self-grooming instincts and will also wander aimlessly.
  • Failing to remember daily routines is also one of the main symptoms in dogs with CCD.

The early signs of dementia in dogs can be hard to detect. They can also be misinterpreted as “getting old.” However, early identification is imperative and all dog owners should look out for the above-mentioned signs.

How Can Dogs Get Dementia?

dog dementia
Photo Credit: Help guide

The exact cause of dog dementia is still unknown. The disease is often caused by physical and chemical changes along with aging in your dog’s brain. But cognitive decline associated with aging is not the only condition that causes dementia in dogs. An animal may also be predisposed to dementia by genetic factors or other diseases such as brain trauma.

How Can You Diagnose Dog Dementia?

If your dog shows one or more symptoms that have been mentioned above, it not necessarily certain that your dog is specifically suffering from dog dementia. They may also be suffering from other possible illnesses. Seek a professional’s help for the diagnosis of dementia in your dog. Your vet can conduct an appropriate test to rule out any other illness and make treatment plans accordingly. Even if dementia cannot be rooted away from your dog, early diagnosis will help them lead a better life.

How Can You Prevent Dog Dementia?

Since an exact cause of dog dementia is unknown, it is almost impossible to prevent dementia in dogs. However, you can still help to prevent dog dementia by keeping your dog physically and mentally active. Some of the things you can do are:

  • Teach your dog new tricks regularly
  • Play games together
  • Feed them a balanced and whole food diet
  • Eliminate exposure to toxins like mercury, arsenic, lead, toluene, and lithium.
  • Allow them to have new experiences and regular socialization

How Can You Cure Dog Dementia?

Dementia care
Photo Credit: Madpaws

Presently, there is no known cure for dog dementia. The condition leads to deterioration of the brain physically and there is no simple corrective measure that can regenerate the damaged tissues in the brain. However, treatments to minimize the effects of this disorder includes :

  • Anipryl or selegiline can be given to slow the progression of canine cognitive dysfunction. Nicergoline, propentofylline, and adrafinil are some prescription medicine commonly used in Europe for canine cognitive dysfunctions. Adrafinil has demonstrated the greatest results among them.
  • You can give your dog specially formulated foods that are available such as this, or this.
  • You might as well pet-proof your house like you would for your new puppy or toddler.
  • Add supplements to your dog’s diet, but only under the guidance of a veterinarian.
  • Encourage your dog for social interaction.
  • Expose your dog to sunlight to help regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
  • Establish feeding, walking,  playing routine according to your dog’s comfort.
  • Keep your commands short, sweet, and compassionate.
  • Give your dog plenty of love and affection.

Dogs can get dementia. It is known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) and is in fact pretty common.  Dog dementia can’t be cured yet but it can still be treated. You can follow steps to make sure your dog is able to lead a comfortable life. Help your furry friend with all your will!

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