Cognitive Dysfunction in an Old Dog

Some things are inevitable in life, and one of those things is the aging process. All living, breathing things grow old, and yes, that includes your beloved dog. As one grows older, a decline in the bodily operations is to be expected. Cognitive dysfunction in an old dog is a common scenario present among our furry friends.

old dog cognitive dysfunction | photo by Edwin Bautista

old dog cognitive dysfunction | photo by Edwin Bautista

Canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) refers to the disease in dogs that is somewhat similar to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in humans. This condition is also called the doggie Alzheimer’s syndrome and was previously known as the old dog syndrome. Confusion and disorientation are the two hallmarks of this disease, wherein the brain undergoes several changes that bring about a downward spiral in the dog’s mental facilities. The areas affected are thinking, memory, recognition, and learned behavior. Fifty percent of pooches who are over ten years old will exhibit a symptom or two of the syndrome.

Here are some of the symptoms of cognitive dysfunction in an old dog:

  • Confusion and/or disorientation (e.g., your dog appears lost in the yard)
  • Disturbance in sleep and activity patterns (e.g., sleeping more but moving around less)
  • Inability to perform house-trained behaviors (e.g., urinating indoors)
  • Reduced interaction with people (e.g., less enthusiasm when petted or greeted by family members)
  • A show of compulsive behaviors, such as weakness or trembling

Note that these symptoms can also be found in physical changes related to aging among dogs. Before you jump to the conclusion that your dog has CCD, it’s important that your vet rules out these age-related changes or other physical illnesses, like cancer or infection.

Medical intervention for cognitive dysfunction in an old dog is done through Anipryl (selegiline), a drug used for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease in humans. The drug, taken once a day, has been found to reduce the symptoms and improve your furry friend’s condition from cognitive dysfunction. Before administering any form of treatment to your pooch, please consult your vet first.

Your elderly dog needs you now more than ever. The minute you spot something funny in your dog, something that’s miles off the usual, bring him to the vet as soon as possible. Don’t wait until it’s too late before you act, because by then, it’s usually too late. You can also improve matters for your dog by feeding him healthy, all-natural treats, stuff that could help boost his health and body systems. Aside from bringing him to the vet for those much-needed consultations, your dog needs your love, attention, and patience. Your loyal pal is going through a hard time, and being harsh on him isn’t going to improve matters. Respond to your elderly dog’s specific needs with care and nurture.


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