Cognitive Dysfunction in Older Dogs

Cognitive Dysfunction in dogs can be managed with medical, nutritional and environmental therapy.

One of the hardest issues for an animal guardian to adjust to is when their canine companions develop aging or geriatric mental/emotional changes that can often affect quality of life.  Symptoms may include:  gradual loss of house training (leading to urine/stool accidents in the house), confusion, vocalizing/wandering/pacing behavior, decreased desire to play, lack of self-grooming, changes in sleep cycle (often waking up at night), and inability to follow familiar routes.

After a full medical exam and rule-out of other medical issues, a diagnosis of canine cognitive dysfunction is often made, if enough of these symptoms are present.  Genetic predisposition is believed to be the underlying cause, as no other factors have yet been identified.   Treatment is life-long, and may include a combination of medical and nutritional therapy, in addition to environmental therapy.

Although it won’t cure your dog, maintaining a healthy and stimulating environment may slow down the progression of the disease.  Daily retraining, exercise and play are recommended in this regard.  Medical therapy with drugs like Anipryl or Selegiline may help in some cases.  Nutritional therapy with good, preferably homemade or natural ingredient diets, as well as nutritional supplements can also help in patient management.  Omega 3 fatty acids such as Nordic Naturals Pet Omega 3 fatty acids, as well as beta caretene, coratenoids, and L-carnine can all be added.  I also like antioxidants for the brain, including proneurozone by Animal Health Options, and have seen many older pets regain much mental clarity when using these types of supplements.

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