Treating Pets Like Family

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Dementia in Senior Pets

Did you know that older pets can get dementia?

dogOur pet cats and dogs are living longer lives due to improved diets, disease detection and medications.  Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) is associated with brain ageing and is a type of dementia that can lead to a variety of changes in your pet’s behaviour.

Signs to look out for if you suspect that your dog or cat may be suffering from dementia;

  • disorientation, aimless wandering, staring into space
  • abnormal sleep patterns, usually sleeping more in the day and awake at night
  • starting to toilet inside the house
  • loss of learnt behaviours, such as sit and stay
  • reduced interactions with the family or irritability
  • altered activity levels, increased anxiety, compulsive behaviour

 

If you are concerned that your senior pet may be suffering from dementia, then a thorough check up with the veterinarian (this will usually include blood and urine tests) is recommended to assess if there is another underlying disease that could be causing the change in behaviour.  Regular (we recommend 6 monthly) check ups with the veterinarian will also help to pick up any early signs of the condition.

 

Can anything be done for CDS (dementia in pets)?

Just as in people, there is no known cure for dementia.  There are, however, many things that you and your veterinarian can do to help to maintain your pet’s well-being.

  • Try to maintain a routine, especially with dogs. Try to stick to regular feeding, exercise and play times
  • As in people, it has been shown that maintaining mental and physical stimulation can help to slow the progression of dementia. Find interesting ways to keep your pet’s mind active.  Keep your pet as active as your pet’s condition and your lifestyle will allow.
  • Ask your vet whether a prescription diet for brain disease would be right for your dog (not available for cats).
  • There are also medications and supplements that improve blood flow to the brain, support brain function and help to reduce anxiety.