Understanding Dementia in Dogs

dementia in canineDementia is a significant problem that has touched many lives. It is a state of confusion and disorientation that occurs in individuals. It typically happens as they get older or as a result of some severe health issue. As dementia progresses, it not only affects the individual who is suffering from it, it also affects everyone who is part of their life as well. More than likely, you know somebody who has suffered from this problem. However, you may not realize that it can also affect dogs as they get older as well.

A problem with canine dementia sometimes referred to as dogzheimers but known clinically as canine cognitive dysfunction is a grave issue. Similar to the way that dementia can affect a human, the dog can suffer in much the same way as well. It can lead to a variety of symptoms, including the following:

Anxiety
Aggressive Behavior
Disturbances in Sleep
Low Levels of Activity
Repetitive Behavior
Unusual and Unnecessary Barking, Growling or Howling
Standing at a Wall and Staring at It
Problems with Elimination
Getting Lost in Familiar Areas
A Lack of Social Interaction

Perhaps one of the most disconcerting issues about dog dementia is the fact that there is no indication as to why it occurs. It may be possible that genetics play a part in whether or not the dog is going to develop the condition but that has not been proven medically. That is why it is essential to take the appropriate steps to recognize the issue and have it diagnosed so any treatments available can be given.

Early recognition of the symptoms is one of the best things that you can do to help your dog deal with a problem with dementia. The unfortunate thing is, dogs are unable to communicate their feelings and emotions verbally, so it sometimes is difficult to spot. Many owners will just brush it off as a problem with the dog getting older. When you recognize the symptoms listed above and are on the lookout for the potential problem of dementia, you can discuss it with a veterinarian.

If your dog has been diagnosed with dementia, the veterinarian may have some recommendations as to what can help the dog to be as comfortable as possible. In many cases, it’s a matter of modifying the living arrangements and continuing to evaluate the condition of the dog on a periodic basis to see how they are responding to any treatments you are considering.

Medically, there is not much that can be done for the changes that are occurring in your dog. The veterinarian will not likely prescribe any medication (although sometimes they do). They will probably discuss the possibility of lifestyle management to help the dog. Many dog owners have turned to natural resources in an attempt to assist their dog in dealing with the increasing confusion they are experiencing as a result of dementia. The results that they experience do vary from one dog to another, but it is something you may want to keep in mind.

It is also important to look beyond any physical problems that your dog may be experiencing and to consider the possible anxiety that may be a problem. Stress can be a challenging issue, and many dog owners can relate to the problems that stress can cause. Helping your dog to manage anxiety is often a matter of being there for them and providing a higher level of companionship. A veterinary behaviorist may also be able to help in this regard, although many dog owners are quite capable of caring for their pet sufficiently.

Having a dog as a part of your household is a responsibility that does not end when the dog gets older and begins to experience health difficulties. In fact, that is when it is necessary for the dog owner to step up to the plate and to do everything they possibly can to make their dog comfortable during those difficult times.

Dogs can wrap themselves around our hearts, and they often provide us with more love than we could ever hope to offer in return. By caring for your dog’s needs when it has dementia, you can help them to live out their senior years in the best way possible.

Canines Get Dementia Too

Things to consider with your beloved dog is that fact that they experience many of the diseases and conditions that humans do.  It’s easy for us to forget that fact or if you are like I was, we are sometimes surprised about it.

The truth is that canines and humans are quite similar in the health conditions they face through life.  This is true when you hear of canine cancer, diabetes, and certainly dementia.

Please read through this site to gather important information about Dog dementia AKA dogzheimers and learn how you can help your furry friend in the event that dementia is a condition he or she becomes afflicted with.

 

Therapy Dogs for Humans with Dementia

dogzheimersHumans and dogs alike can experience the horrible disease of dementia.  And while this blog is initially designed to assist people with helping their canines companions who are afflicted with the condition, there is a connected issue that we want to address here as well.  It is something of the reverse of the problem.  It is the concept of how therapy dogs can assist humans who are dealing with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Before we begin providing the information about how a dog can help a human; let’s cover briefly what Alzheimer’s is and how it affects people. Does it impact both our four-legged friends and homo sapiens the same?

alzheimer'sAlzheimer’s is a form of dementia that affects a person’s thinking, behavior, and memory.  It happens to be the most common form of dementia.  It usually begins gradually, with the symptoms progressing over time.

Typically, and Alzheimer’s patient is going to be working with a doctor who will prescribe medication to help treat the disease.  There are no cures for the condition though some drugs will help slow the process.  There are also experimental drugs being made available as well to see what impact they may have on dementia.  Being that Alzheimer’s is a neurological condition, drugs such as Nuedexta typically used to treat Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA) are prescribed to help the patient.

Some of the difficulties in using medication to help treat the disease are the side effects of the medication and high price associated with purchasing the drugs.  Dealing with just one of these issues would be challenging enough.  Having to address both only adds to the concern.

The common side effects of using Nuedexta that an Alzheimer’s patientalz dementia may experience is bloating, weight gain or weight loss, runny nose, and swelling of the limbs as well some aches and pains in the back.  More severe yet less common effects are diarrhea, blood in the urine, fever, and chills.  These problems are lessened over time as a person’s body gets used to the drug

Taking this medication with other drugs is concerning as the side effects may become more severe.  Certainly, talking with a physician before beginning this course of treatment would be a good idea.

Even using experimental drugs can be expensive with the cost of Nuedexta itself running between $600 to $900 every couple of months depending on whether you have a coupon or discount available to use.  Insurance companies won’t necessarily be on board with either paying or helping to pay for this treatment.

For the reasons above and others, drugs may not be a solution for a person with Alzheimer’s.  However, another possible answer to the problem might be another option.  That solution is the use of a therapy dog.

Canines have been viable solutions to assisting individuals with all sorts of things for years.  The list is long, and it stems from hunting to seeing eye dogs, to the human protection and now therapy dogs.

labrador therapy dogWhat types of dogs can be used for therapy?

Most any dog can be a therapy dog. However, based on some breeds known traits, those breeds of dogs will likely be preferred for this activity.  Labrador breeds are typically good therapy dogs.  Still, I’ve known pit bulls, golden retrievers and other types who have worked well in this particular role too.

How do make a dog a therapy dog?

Therapy dogs begin with a balanced well-mannered dog.  Some dogs are raised as pups and even bred for the purpose of treatment.  Then again, there are are dogs who’ve been rescued whose owners have turned them into therapy dogs.  Dog training is necessary though, formal training in the way many would expect isn’t always a requirement dependent upon the type of therapy work the dog will be expected to perform.

Many owners will work with their furry friend to develop certain traits and behaviors if the therapy is something such as going to group homes, hospitals, etc., and just being a comfort to those people he is meeting.

Therapy dogs expected to do more for the individual such as seeing eye dogs, PTSD dogs, diabetic therapy dogs, and those who assist Alzheimer’s patients, are required to go through intensive training designed to teach them of signs they need to look out for in their human.  Plus, the therapy dog training teaches them how to respond when those symptoms appear. This training can last from several months to over a year.

 

 

Now getting back to treating dogs with dementia, AKA dogzheimers, there is medication for that purpose as well.  Although there is no known cure for canines with dementia, some treatments have been shown as effective for slowly the disease.

A couple of options prescribed by veterinarians for this treatment have been found to be promising.  One is a drug, and the other is supplements.
Anipryl is an actual medication for treatment.  SAMe, Senilife, and Nuetricks.  Coconut oil and Omega-3 fatty acids are also a possibility, but there is no direct evidence of their effectiveness.

dog dementia drugSome preliminary studies in humans may also give an indication in options for treating pets.  For humans, continuing to work the cognitive function of the mind has been a benefit.  It may hold true that the same theory applies to dogs.  You can work your beloved pups mind with dog training that works his brain throughout their lives.

When you love your pet, you’ll give anything a try to help him live a long, productive, healthy life.  Give these options a shot to see how you might be able to prevent or limit the effects of dementia in your dog.

Don’t Forget Us at Dementia Dogs

Anyone who loves their fur-baby knows how difficult it is to see them age and watch them change in personality due to physical pain, illness, or medical conditions, similar to what happens when people get older.  The struggle in most of the cases for dogs is understanding the problems they are experiencing being that they have no language that we can understand.

Fortunately, the relationship  between canines and humans as well as the cognitive thinking of a canine has been studied at great lengths in the last several years.  While there is still much to learn, we have come a long way in our understanding of them in the way they communicate via their body language.

We at dementiadogs.org want to help you with your beloved pet at that time when he or she starts that inevitable transition from the pup and friend we love with all of our hearts, to the older dog whom we actually love even more, even though they are changing in character and personality due to age.  We will provide information about dementia in dogs along with other conditions as well as ways to care and continue to train them in a way to help them in their senior years.

So please wait while we build our site and don’t forget to come back here to Dementia Dogs.