Can my dog suffer from dementia?
Sadly we all know that when people age they can develop dementia, but did you know it happens to our dogs too? In fact, over a quarter of 11-12 year old dogs might be showing signs of doggy dementia, which is known as ‘cognitive dysfunction’ (CDS).
CDS can affect all breeds of dog, and typically is seen in dogs over 8-10 years old. Very much like our human Alzheimer’s CDS is diagnosed by behavioural changes, as degeneration in the brain leads to loss of learned behaviours and changes in sociability.
CDS is much more common than you might think – a study showed that 28% of dogs aged 11-12 years old, and 68% of dogs aged 15-16, showed one or more signs of CDS.
As CDS is degenerative, sadly affected dogs are likely to worsen with time, which is known as cognitive decline.
What are the signs I should be looking for?
Forgetting family members
Forgetting normal or familiar walking routes
Toileting in the house, especially if your dog forgets to tell you that they need to go outside, or goes outside, forgets to toilet, and then toilets in the house on their return
Less likely to get up and greet you when you come home
Decreased desire to play
No longer following house rules
Slow to learn new tasks
Changes in sleep cycle (being awake at night and sleeping more during the day)
If you are seeing any of these signs it's important to speak to your local vet. They can take a good look at your dog and see if the signs may be related to CDS, or if there could be another underlying cause. They may need to do blood tests or other testing to rule out different problems.