The human-animal bond is precious and if our aging dog is diagnosed with canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), it can be heartbreaking news. CCD is the term for “dementia” as dogs experience it, and there is evidence that it is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Dog dementia is a decline that is seen in senior dogs. Although it’s irreversible, there are many things pet parents can do to help their dog and family cope.
Dogs with CCD generally exhibit behavioral changes ranging from loss of housetraining to aggression, sleeping problems, and often appear confused or disoriented. Dog dementia is a fairly common problem in senior dogs, but there are treatments and ways to cope that can make life better for both dog and pet parents.
Causes of Dog Dementia
Partially hereditary and similar to human Alzheimer’s disease, many studies have found that dogs with dementia have lesions on their brains and/or smaller than average brains. In a dog’s brain, the protein beta-amyloid accumulates, creating protein deposits called plaques, which is similar to Alzheimer’s disease.
The following list of symptoms are not seen in all dogs, but showing several of them increases the likelihood of a dementia diagnosis.
• Confusion and disorientation
• Sleep disturbances
• Loss of housetraining
• Less interest in people
• Increase in pacing/wandering
If the family pet is experiencing several symptoms, check with the veterinarian for cognitive dysfunction syndrome. The most important task is managing the dog’s personal and household routines to keep him comfortable and safe.