Although many dog owners are unaware of it, canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) or Doggie Dementia, affects a significant portion of the senior dog population. The improvements in owner care along with advances in veterinary medicine have helped dogs live longer but have led to an increase in geriatric diseases such as CCD.
CCD refers to an age-related neurobehavioral syndrome in dogs that causes a decline in cognitive function. Patients may experience depression, they may become hyper-aggressive or appear confused.
Other signs include
· Wandering the house particularly at night
· Circling or pacing
· Staring into space or into walls
· Getting lost and even stuck in familiar places
· Appearing confused and failing to remember routines
If your pet is showing any of the signs above a consultation with your vet would be a good place to start. Typically the vet would perform some basic neurological tests and may request a blood test. When standard test are normal and offer no explanation for the clinical signs CCD is often at least part of the problem.
The goal of treating a dog with suspected CCD is to slow the progression of the disease and to improve the dog’s quality of life.
- Provide an array of daytime activities including opportunities for play, and social interaction to provide both physical and mental stimulation. Exposure to sunlight will help regulate the sleep-wake cycle and may reduce to night time wandering.
- Feed a balanced, diet with beneficial supplements added to assist brain function.
- The pharmacological approach to CCD treatment also focuses on control of oxidation and enhancement of brain function. The antioxidant supplement SAMe has shown to be effective in both slowing the progression of CCD and moderating its symptoms.
- Other antioxidant nutritional supplements such omega-3 fatty acids can be added to any diet. Providing a good quality multivitamin may also be effective.
- Finally there are several drugs that assist brain function and may help reduce the signs of CCD. For more information have a chat to your vet.
By Dr Charles Webb