Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome Explained

Canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome occurs in some dogs as they reach the final third of their life. It's caused by physical and chemical changes in the brain of older dogs and results in a decline of the dog's cognitive abilities. Canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome normally comes on slowly and gradually get worse.

Symptoms of Cognitive Dysfunction

Canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome may cause discomfort and change in behavior or personality. Sight, hearing, taste and smell are reduced. Spatial orientation and house training may be affected. Your dog may wander aimlessly, appear lost and confused, stare into space and having difficulty finding doorways. Interaction with family members may change, as difficulty in recognizing family members may result in disinterest contrary to the dog's previous enthusiasm.

Sleeping more during the day and less at night are common. A decrease in daily activity and barking at night for no reason are also signs. Many dogs afflicted with CDS will start urinating indoors, even if they had just been outside. Your dog may stop asking to go outside, and it's common for these dogs to completely forget their house training habits altogether. Some hearing loss in elderly dogs is normal, and dogs with CDS may have hearing loss associated with confusion. The dog may not respond when you call him or when you clap your hands. Dogs which were once timid may become more aggressive and vise-versa, and some some dogs develop obsessive licking, drooling, barking or other anxiety problems.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Cognitive Dysfunction

In diagnosing and treating cognitive dysfunction syndrome, your veterinarian will first rule out all other diseases with similar symptoms. Anipryl® is the only drug approved by the FDA to treat and control the symptoms of CDS. Anipryl® increases the brain's amount of dopamine, which helps with cognitive functioning. This drug does have some side effects, such as vomiting and diarrhea. A medication called nicergoline is being used in England. It treats age-related behavioral disorders by enhancing blood circulation in the brain. Some veterinarians believe nutritional supplements may help. Omega-3 fatty acids, tocopherols, vitamin C, beta-carotene, carotenoids and flavenoids are the most common suggested.

Encouraging more activity that requires thinking will improve your dog's over-all behavior. Playing with other pets, playing with toys on a daily basis and exposure to new situations will all help dogs with CDS.