Just like humans, dogs can develop dementia as they age. Someone who used to pull the door out fast may one day stagger to the closet only to be let out.
This is a sad reality that many dog owners may face, especially if their dog’s breed is expected to live 10 years or more.A new study is Dog Aging Project Many dogs were found to have a 52% annual increased risk of cognitive problems after the age of 10.
But if your best furry friend is showing signs of canine cognitive decline or CCD, there’s no reason to despair, says veterinarian Dana Varble, MD, chief veterinarian in North America.
“Pet owners often think their dogs are ‘slowing down’ and don’t realize there are things they can do to mitigate, slow or even avoid cognitive decline as their dogs age,” Varble said.
“Research shows that mental activity and exercise are as important to dogs’ mental health as they are to humans. It’s important to stimulate the brain, which can be easily accomplished with food puzzles, for example,” she said.
Food puzzles are toys in which the owner hides treats and the dog pushes, shakes or pops the treats. Such activities help keep the brains of dogs and cats engaged, experts say.
Additionally, “nutritional supplements have been shown to improve symptoms and slow the decline of CCD. There are also special foods for older dogs,” Varble said.
In the new study, Published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers asked more than 15,000 dog owners to complete two surveys about their dogs’ health and cognitive status between December 2019 and 2020.The scientists then grouped the dogs by age and analyzed the results
Based on age alone, after ten years, the odds of a dog developing CCD increased by 68% per year. But when other factors, such as dog breed, existing health, neutering and physical activity, were taken into account, the risk dropped to 52 percent for each additional year.
Inactive dogs of the same breed, health, age, and spayed status are nearly seven times more likely to develop canine dementia than active dogs of the same breed. Whether inactivity causes dementia or vice versa is unclear, the study authors said.
Additionally, dogs with a history of neurological, ocular, or hearing impairment have been reported to be at higher risk for cognitive decline. Research.
There’s also good news: Studies have found little or no cognitive decline in dogs under the age of 10.
For years, veterinarians have been studying the signs and symptoms of canine dementia in an attempt to better understand and help the animals they care for. Here’s what to look for, according to experts:
get lost: A dog with cognitive problems may begin to walk or wander around the house as if lost. They can get stuck behind furniture, not knowing how to get out or staring aimlessly at the floor, wall, or into space. They may not even know family members.
changes in sleep cycles: Dementia can cause dogs Confuse day and night with your pets May wake up during the night and start pacing, barking, or whining around the house. Insomnia at night can lead to excessive sleep during the day.
Home training: Some dogs forget years of indoor training and start relaxing indoors, which can make them anxious. They may forget to remind you when they need to go out, or even forget to do business outside and dirty the house when they return.
Changes in social behavior: Interactions with you and other people’s lives may change. Dogs can become very clingy, scared, or need help. Or the dog may become antisocial, withdrawing from interaction and being left alone.
Changes in physical activity: Dogs with Cognitive Decline May Lose Interest Favorite toys, other dogs and people, or start walking aimlessly and can’t calm down.
If you see any of these signs, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible, advises Varble. “Early intervention can prolong and improve the quality of life of our pets,” she said.
First, the veterinarian will check the dog for other symptoms to rule out diabetes, vision and hearing loss, kidney or urinary problems, arthritis, high blood pressure and Cushing’s disease, Caused by excess cortisol (the stress hormone).
If you and your veterinarian catch signs of dementia early, your doctor may recommend behavior change medication FDA-approved for use in dogs, it acts on the neurotransmitter dopamine to help decline.
A veterinarian can also put your dog on a brain-healthy diet and use food puzzles to encourage more physical activity, social and brain stimulation, teach new tricks, and encourage sniffling and sniffling during walks.