Understanding Canine Dementia

Canine Dementia or Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome is common in older dogs, occurring sooner in larger breeds. Similar to Alzheimer's disease in humans, dog dementia causes disorientation, confusion, memory loss and personality changes. Beta amyloidal deposits, which are nerve destructive proteins in the brain, accumulate over time in the brain resulting in plaque build-up. This plaque impedes the transmission of brain signals.

Dementia Symptoms

There are several telltale signs for dementia; however, some of them are similar to other conditions so they need to be addressed first. The veterinarian will be able to access whether or not your dog has dementia or such things as hearing loss or another medial condition.

The following is a list of symptoms:

  • Getting lost in corners
  • Confusion
  • Forgetfulness
  • Wandering through the house
  • Less responsive
  • Having indoor accidents
  • Not responding to name being called
  • Not recognizing familiar people
  • Barking for no apparent reason
  • Not as social as before
  • Personality changes

Personality And Behavioral Changes

Some dogs will face a corner or the hinge side of door waiting for it to open or unable to figure out what to do next. Circling a table, roaming from room to room, walking in circles, staring at walls for long periods of time or appearing confused and disorientated are all signs of dementia. Pacing anxiously, wandering or unable to engage in purposeful activity can be a sign of an overactive bowel or bladder.

Conversely, urinating in the house or not signaling to go outdoors is a sign of dementia. Dogs with dementia will bark because they are "lost", confused or because they no longer recognize a familiar person. They will not greet familiar people as before and may even enjoy solitude rather than interaction with people, walking away as they are being petted. They will also be less tolerant than before and more easily annoyed so play with children needs to be supervised. A normally timid dog may become aggressive. A dog with dementia may "forget" to eat or sleep during the day and be awake during the night. They will also be confused by voice commands and may not even respond to their name being called.

Dementia Treatment

There are several possible treatments available for canine dementia. Many dog owners prefer a natural approach. Cholodin® is a vitamin B choline supplement that has been proven to reverse the signs of canine dementia. A number of foods are now fortified with mixtures of antioxidants that can effectively counteract dementia. Reports that 74% of pets with a history of indoor accidents experienced a reduction after spending 30 days on the prescription diet. A total of 61% showed enthusiasm when greeting family members.

Anipryl is one of the top medications used to treat dementia, increasing the level of the essential neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. It has been shown to reverse some of the changes associated with dementia and improves the behavior of about 75% of affected dogs within 30 to 60 days. Some possible side effects are diarrhea, vomiting, staggering, lethargy, hyperactivity or restlessness, anorexia or seizure.