Pet dementia can be prevented in many ways, or may also be slowed with several precautionary measures.
Are you recognizing the signs of pet dementia?
There are an increasing number of cats and dogs suffering from this progressing disease, and many pets are dying of it. A great deal of research shows that many animals who are suffering from pet dementia are victims of an incredibly sedentary diet and inactive lifestyle.
To monitor if your dog or cat is suffering from pet dementia, you can look for several warning signs.
If you have an older cat:
- Are they behaving erratically?
- Do they meow for no reason?
- Do they seem confused and sleep more than they used to?
Studies have shown that half of all cats over the age of 15, and a quarter aged 11 to 14, are suffering from “geriatric onset behavioral problems.” Related studies have indicated cats could suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The research involved scans which showed changes to the neural system of confused elderly felines were similar to those seen among humans with the same conditions.
If you have a senior dog, look for these signs to determine if they are suffering from signs of dementia:
- Do they sleep excessively during the day?
- Wander aimlessly?
- Get stuck in weird places?
- Forget previously taught tricks?
As our canine friends start to live longer, veterinarians are seeing more cases of cognitive dysfunction syndrome, commonly called canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) or dementia. Recent studies have shown that 62% of dogs between ages 11 and 16 demonstrate one or more signs of CCD/dementia, and the percentage goes up as dogs get older.
Other symptoms can include:
- Walking in circles
- Forgetting certain activities, such as eating or forgetting that they have already greeted you
- Attempting to go in a door the wrong way
- Getting lost or struggling to find their way around
- Increased amount of sleep during a 24-hour period
- Disinterest in surroundings
- Decreased purposeful activity
- Loss of knowledge, including daily activities such as housebreaking
- Increased amounts of anxiety shown by apprehension, panting, moaning or excessive shivering
Other signs of dementia in pets include failure to respond to commands and/or difficulty hearing, and inability to recognize familiar people and difficulty navigating the environment. There are three main contributors to the changes in an aging brain that cause a gradual impairment in cognitive functioning: oxidative stress from free radical damage, formation of lesions on the brain and alterations in oxygen and energy availability. Some of these may be ruled out for canine dementia, and may be symptoms of a different issue, so it is very important to bring these issues to the attention of your veterinarian.
It is very important to monitor changes within your pet, as well as get them proper attention from an experienced vet. Dementia can accelerate at differing rates and cause different amounts of impairment and discomfort to your beloved pets. If you see any of the warning signs and or sense something is out of place, it is important to contact your vet and seek immediate attention for your pet.