With improved nutrition, medical care
and pet meds, dogs are living longer than ever. This is obviously
all for the good, but it does present some new challenges for the owners
of canine senior citizens. A dog's brain ages along with the
rest of his body and needs some special attention if he is to continue
to thrive through his later years.
"In addition to drugs and supplements, environmental enrichment and stimulation can go a long way towards improving or maintaining a dog's mental abilities."
Why Dog Owners Should Be Concerned
Older dogs can develop a disease called
canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), which is very similar to Alzheimer's
disease in people. Even dogs that do not specifically have canine
cognitive dysfunction can show general signs of senility. Typical
- Changes in behavior
- Loss of house training
- Restlessness and wandering
- Getting "stuck" in corners
- Memory loss
- Changes in the way a dog
relates with people or other pets
- Altered sleep patterns
Canine cognitive dysfunction is thought
to be caused by the increased breakdown of neurotransmitters in the
brain. The build-up of damaging free radicals may also play a
role in CCD and the development of senility.
Veterinary and Home Care for Older Dogs
If your dog has any of the symptoms
of canine cognitive dysfunction or senility, take him to the veterinarian.
A physical exam and routine laboratory testing can help rule out other
diseases that may cause similar clinical signs. If your vet determines
that your dog is suffering from canine cognitive dysfunction, he or
she will probably prescribe a drug called Anipryl
(selegiline) that often significantly improves a dog's condition over the course of several
weeks to months. Many other supplements are also available that act as antioxidants
and protect the brain from free radicals or otherwise may improve brain
function in dogs.
In addition to drugs and supplements,
environmental enrichment and stimulation can go a long way towards improving
or maintaining a dog's mental abilities. Activities such as
leash walking, learning new commands or tricks, playing with toys, and interactions with other dogs can all help
keep older pets sharp.
The above is provided for information purposes only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition.
This information does not cover all possible variables, conditions, reactions, or risks relating to any topic, medication, or product and should not
be considered complete. Certain products or medications may have risks and you should always consult your local veterinarian concerning the treatment of
your pet. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners.