Alzheimers Disease In Your Dog
By Mark Woodcock
Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) is a degeneration of the brain and nervous system in dogs. This roughly compares to Alzheimers disease in humans and like Alzheimers, it is caused by physical changes in the brain and the brains chemicals. It is not part of normal ageing, it results in a deterioration of cognitive abilities, causing behavioral changes that can disrupt the lives of dogs and consequently, the families that care for them.
Sometimes older dogs geet confused, they may lose their way around the house. Severe cognitive problems are no more normal in older dogs than they are in people who are ageing. Whilst older dogs may gray around the muzzle and move slower than they used to, they should not experience a complete change in their personality. Any dogs that suddenly seems confused, distant or lost, may be showing signs of cognitive dysfunction.
As a pet owner, if you suspect that your dog may be suffering from cognitive dysfunction, look out for the following signs:
– Losing their way around a familiar place like the home or yard
– Not responding to their name
– Decreased activity
– Being unable to recognize family members or other familiar people
– Ignoring known commands
– Frequent trembling or shaking
– Pacing or wandering aimlessley
– Showing difficulty in learning new tasks, commands or routes
– Soiling in the house
– Sleeping less during the night, but maybe more during the day
– Withdrawing into themselves and losing interest in play
If you suspect your dog has CDS take them along to your local veterinarian, they will be able to take a thorough behavior and medical history of your dog. Your veterinarian will also be able to take physical and neurological examinations, blood and urine tests to rule out any other condition that could also cause these symptoms such as, hypothyroidism, kidney problems, arthritis and/or hearing or vision loss. Once any underlying diseases have been ruled out, you and your veterinarian can discuss what treatment to take for your dog.
Unfortunately there is no cure for CDS, but there is always hope! Prescription drugs are now available for dogs with CDS in the US. It works by increasing the amount of dopamine in your dogs brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that the brain needs to function normally, an increased amount of dopamine can improve brain function, though it may not work in all dogs. The drug can help many dogs with CDS to think more clearly, remember more, return to their interactions with their famile and enjoy a higher quality of life in their elderly years.
Veterinarians have not yet determined whether CDS is a factor in aging cats. There are a large number of conditions that can affect older cats, and there is currently no way to distinguish CDS from these conditions. There are no prescriptions approved for treating CDS in cats, but this may be a field that will develop in the future.
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