Symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS)

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) or canine dementia is commonly found in older dogs, occurring sooner in the larger breeds. Also known as canine cognitive disorder, it is similar to Alzheimer's disease in humans, causing confusion, disorientation, personality changes and memory loss. This disease is caused by beta amyloidal deposits in the brain. These nerve destructive proteins accumulate over time resulting in plaque build-up in the brain that impedes the transmission of the brain's electrical signals.

Symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Some of the symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome are similar to other conditions, including hearing loss. Only a veterinarian will be able to distinguish the difference so it is best to seek veterinarian advise as soon as the signs are noticed.

Some of the symptoms include the following:

  • Confusion
  • Less responsive
  • Getting lost in corners or staring at a door in anticipation of it being opened
  • Not responding to name being called
  • Having indoor accidents
  • Forgetfulness
  • Personality changes
  • Not as social as before
  • Not recognizing familiar people or places
  • Wandering through the house
  • Barking for no apparent reason

Changes in Personality and Behavior

Sometimes a dog with dementia will face a corner or the hinge side of a door waiting for it to open or unable to figure out what to do next. Walking in circles, circling a table, appearing confused and disoriented, roaming from room to room or staring at walls for long periods of time are all signs of dementia. However, wandering, pacing anxiously or being unable to engage in purposeful activity may be a sign of an overactive bladder or bowel. Conversely, not signaling to go outdoors or urinating in the house is a sign of dementia.

Dogs with dementia will bark for no apparent reason because they are confused, "lost" or because they no longer recognize a familiar person. Sometimes they enjoy solitude rather than interaction, even walking away as they are being petted. They do not greet familiar people as before and are even less tolerant and more easily annoyed. They may need to be supervised around children since a normally timid dog can become aggressive. Sometimes they will "forget" to eat or may forget they are eating if disrupted. They may have their day and nights mixed up and sleep during the day and not at night. They may be confused by their name being called or any voice commands.

Treatments for Dementia

There are a number of possible treatments for dementia, some of the natural variety. Cholodin®, a vitamin B choline supplement, has been proven to reverse the signs of canine dementia. Mixtures of antioxidants that can effectively counteract dementia are now used to fortify some dog foods. There are reports that some prescription diets will reduce indoor pet accidents by 74% after 30 days and another 61% of dogs showed enthusiasm when greeting family members.

Anipryl is one of the top medications for treating canine dementia since it increases the level of the essential neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Behavior of approximately 75% of the affected dogs improved within 30 to 60 days. Some of the side effects are vomiting, lethargy, staggering, hyperactivity (restlessness), diarrhea, seizure or anorexia. However, anipryl has been shown to reverse some of the changes associated with dementia.