Can My Dog Get Dementia?

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    Have you ever wondered if your senior dog is susceptible to dementia? Just like humans, older dogs are capable of developing the same age-related illnesses such as dementia. The progression of cognitive decline in dogs works much like that in humans. Those dogs who suffer from canine dementia, tend to typically start displaying symptoms of cognitive decline around the age of 9 years old. However, there are a number of diseases and medical conditions that may cause disorientation that can be mistaken for canine dementia. These conditions include:
    • Diabetes 
    • Cushing’s Disease 
    • High Blood Pressure
    • Loss of hearing 
    • Loss of vision 
    • Urinary Tract Infection 
    • Kidney Disorder 
    • Arthritis 

    How is Dementia in Dogs Diagnosed?

    In order to properly diagnose your dog, a veterinarian will need to be consulted. The process of making a formal diagnosis for canine dementia includes analyzing DISHA, which stands for Disorientation, Interaction Changes, Sleep Disruptions, House Soiling/Memory/Learning, and Activity Changes. 

    Disorientation: Disorientation is one of the most common and recognizable signs of dementia in dogs. This may be presented as a dog who is wandering or confused about their surroundings. Some dogs may stare at the floor or wall or have a difficult time maneuvering around normal obstacles and objects. 

    Interaction Changes: More social dogs may show less interest in socializing with people and other dogs. Other dogs may become clingier to their owners and other people. Any behavioral and interactional changes should be noted and discussed with your veterinarian. 

    Sleep/Wake Cycle Disruptions: Canine dementia can cause uncomfortable sleep/wake cycle disruptions for your dog. Your dog may have trouble sleeping throughout the entire night, waking and pacing, or barking and whining. This may cause increased sleeping throughout the daytime. 

    House Soiling, Memory, and Learning: House soiling can be a large indicator of canine dementia or other canine cognitive declines. A housetrained dog may stop indicating they need to go outside to take care of their business. They may also stop responding properly to commands they’d otherwise listen to. In addition, it may become increasingly difficult to get your dog’s attention. 

    Activity Changes: Dogs who are affected by dementia will often show a decrease in activity level. Many will show less interest in their surroundings as well as decreased response to triggers such as other dogs, sounds, and people. Others may display a decrease in activity in the way of lack of appetite, increased restlessness, and separation anxiety.

    How Can I Help My Dog With Dementia?

    Unfortunately, there is no cure for canine dementia. However, there are ways you can help your dog to navigate the condition: 

    Medications: Some veterinarians may prescribe medications to support your dog. Common medications include Selegiline, Antidepressants, and Anipryl. 

    Supplements: Your vet may suggest supplementing your dog’s diet with nutritional supplements such as Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, Denamarian, and melatonin. All of which have been suggested to improve cognitive function and quality of life in some dogs. 

    Activities: Encouraging your dog to exercise more, participate in interactive games and toys, and teaching new skills may help with their memory and learning. 

    Routine: Avoid any sudden schedule changes when it comes to a dog with dementia. Sticking to a routine can help relieve the anxiety that many dogs with dementia experience. Adjusting your pace to match your dog rather than forcing them to speed up will help ease their discomfort. In addition, avoid changing the layout of your home and reduce clutter to reduce the stress on your dog. 

    Patience: It’s important to be calm and patient when it comes to handling your dog with dementia. While it may be frustrating when your dog soils in the house or disrupts your sleep by barking in the middle of night, try your best to exercise patience and care. This will allow for them to feel less nervous and scared. 

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