A result of improved dog health care, more dogs are making it to older ages. The problem with this is the increase of age related health issues. Much like aging humans, older dogs deal with some of the same health problems. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CCDS) is most similar to Alzheimer’s in humans.
CCDS is a type of senility. It is hard to point out the specific symptoms. Many owners with aging animals just consider the symptoms their dog getting older. They do not see it as a specific health problem. Many signs of this disorder are synonymous with old age. Owners of senior dogs should look out for these signs.
• an obvious decrease in the amount of play.
• the dog is slow responding to commands.
• The sleeping patterns change drastically.
• The dog may change their interaction patterns with your family. Your pet might ignore you instead of greeting you. He or she may walk away from you and other family members.
• The dog may stare into space, pace or wander aimlessly. Like humans with Alzheimer’s, your dog may not seem to know where he or she is going. The animal becomes easily disoriented.
• The animal experiences difficulties in bladder control. The dog may also demand to go out but fail to do anything.
To complicate further the problem of identifying this disorder, these indicators do not occur immediately. Moreover, your pet may not show all of the signs. Your vet may not suspect or diagnose the syndrome. This professional can only diagnose with your help.
If you notice changes in your senior dog’s behavior, document the changes. Take your concerns up with the vet. If your vet is to correctly diagnose your dog with CCDS, he or she has to have all the data. This includes knowing what the problem is, when the problem first manifested and the specific pattern of the problem(s). You also have to provide the vet with information on any other specific health problems your dog has or has had.
There is no known cure for CCDS. But you can treat it on several levels. The vet can give you medicine to help reduce physical problems. The common choice is L-selegiline. You can also use an integrative approach. This will combine diet, training and environmental aspects.
• Make sure your dog is eating a diet rich in antioxidants. This will help him or her maintain some mental acuity.
• Enrich your dog’s life. Stimulate them more. Challenge them daily with frequent if short walks. Praise them every time they do go to the bathroom outdoors.
• Continue to teach them new things. This will help their brain continue to function. Do not try elaborate new signals. Use and reinforce simple and familiar ones. Make sure they are easily understood.
• Keep the dogs environments safe and sound. This means keeping gates and exits tightly secured. This will prevent the dog from wandering out of the yard, becoming lost and even more confused. Indoors, you may use baby gates or other forms to provide safety around stairs.
• Keep the room and yard clear from dangerous objects. This will prevent your dog bumping into objects.
If you pay attention to your aging dogs needs they can live the rest of their lives comfortably.