Have you got an older dog who is awake more at night or getting confused at times? Have you just put it down to 'old age'?
Your dog may be suffering from canine dementia, a disease also known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.
The disease has been recognised in dogs for some time and has many similarities to Alzheimer's disease in humans. There is also more and more evidence that cats can also suffer from a form of dementia, so if you are worried about your pet, you should always arrange a check-up with your Vet.
Some of these signs of dementia can be subtle, and you may not even realise your senior pet is suffering from the disease.
Watch out for:
- A disturbance in sleep patterns, pacing at night, the inability to settle to sleep
- Disorientation and confusion - getting stuck in doorways is common
- Lack or decreased levels of interaction with family members or other pets
- Forgetting toilet training
- Reduced activity levels
- Barking for no reason, staring at walls
Diagnosis of dementia is by process of elimination, and many diseases can lead to similar signs. Your pet will require a blood and urine test as well as a blood pressure check, as a minimum to rule out other diseases.
It's essential to keep your pet active and engaged and employ the idea that, like humans, your pet needs to 'use it, or lose it' when it comes to the brain. Games such as hide and seek with treats as well as regular exercise are all essential in helping prevent a rapid decline in your pet's cognitive dysfunction.
Please note, some medications may assist with improving brain function, as can a prescription diet help to slow the progression of the disease. Your Vet will be able to work with you and your pet to help reduce your pet's anxiety and to ensure dementia does not affect your pet's quality of life.