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.