Do dogs get dementia? It can be emotionally devastating to see your pet start to mentally decline. You may feel helpless as you see your dog display signs of dementia such as not responding to being called simply because your pet forgot its name.
What is CCD?
CCD is an acronym for Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. It is a broad term for a number of symptoms. It is caused mainly by chemical and physical changes in the brain.
The Journal of Veterinary Behaviour states that similar changes in humans with Alzheimer’s and Dementia are seen in dogs with CCD.
What Are Symptoms of CCD?
- Aimless wandering
- Anxiety – barking, whining, crying for no apparent reason
- Pacing back and forth or in circles
- Repetitive behavior
- Losing basic motor skills – frequently getting stuck behind furniture
- Stopped responding to their name
- Seemingly forgetting commands
- Staring at walls
- Increased aggression
- Increased daytime sleeping
- Increased accidents in the house/forgetting house rules
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased ability to learn
- Forgetting people they once knew
- Forgetting their owners
Stages of CCD
Mild – Few symptoms in the early stages are seen except increased daytime sleeping and a change in social interaction. You may find your dog not to be as social as before. This also means that few dogs are diagnosed at this stage.
Moderate – Symptoms include soiling in the house and increased activity at night.
Severe – Includes symptoms in the first two stages plus increased soiling and wandering aimlessly and increased barking through the night. You may also see your dog staring at walls for no apparent reason.
Is CCD Fatal?
There is currently no available data to suggest that this condition is fatal. However, it is reported that many owners resort to putting their dogs to sleep because of the emotional distress they feel when they witness their dogs mentally decline, including forgetting their owners.
Dementia will not shorten a dog’s lifespan. If anything, it may even increase it due to the extra care that owners give them.
What Medication Is Used In CCD?
A common drug used is ANIPRYL. It is FDA approved and is also used in Cushing’s disease. It is also used in humans suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and has been found to help dogs with Dementia. However, it has been shown to cause seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, increased aggression among others.
How Can I Help My Dog With Dementia?
- Exercise is important for dogs especially at this stage. Walking helps with blood circulation in the brain. Stopping every so often to smell the environment helps stimulate the mind.
- Avoid rearranging furniture in as much as possible to prevent your dog from getting confused. Eliminate obstacles and remove clutter around the house. Dogs with dementia lose their basic motor skills and may easily get stuck behind furniture.
- Leave a lamp on at night to prevent your dog from getting disoriented if they wake up at night.
- Dogs with CCD frequently wake up at night and are mostly asleep during the day. This is called Sundowning where they confuse day and night. Melatonin may help your dog sleep at night. Speak to your veterinarian to get a proper dose.
- Senior dogs will most definitely appreciate soft bedding. This will also help with their joints.
- Brain games for dogs will help stimulate their mind.
How Can I Prevent Dementia In Dogs?
In one study, older adults are four times more likely to develop MCI (mild cognitive impairment) when they consumed too many carbohydrates.
Dog food typically contains up to 50% carbohydrates.
Diet plays a big role in a dog’s(and human) mental health. Feed a dog whole foods like lean meat, omega 3’s from cold-water fish like salmon and sardines, and avoid feeding too many carbohydrates.
Carnitine, DHA, Ginseng, Vitamin C, and E from fruits and vegetables are good for brain health.
Full Spectrum CBD and MCT oil from Coconut has also been shown to be beneficial for brain health and can be used as a preventative measure.
Apart from brain health, learn more benefits of Hemp in dogs here.
Homeopathy can help dogs with a myriad of conditions.
The main ingredient in BrainPet is Bacopa monnieri (also known as Brahmi) which has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for millennia. All animals can benefit from this remedy including cats and horses.
It’s been shown to improve brain function, memory, and focus for aging animals.
HomeoAnimal has 450 remedies available which can be used as an alternative to prescription medicine.
Final Take Away
Dementia in dogs can be heart-breaking for dog owners to see. There is no known cause and nonreversible.
Avoid this dreadful condition by feeding your dog a holistic diet, plenty of exercise, and by giving your dog lots of mental stimulation.