Dementia in Dogs, just like us this is becoming a major problem.
Managing dementia in dogs is what first appears a daunting task but, I personally feel that you should be able to recognize the early signs of dementia and how you can make your dog’s life more comfortable and stress-free.
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If you suspect that your dog is suffering from dementia then my thoughts are with you and your dog.
Like humans, dogs can also suffer from dementia as a result of senility or medical causes. However, if you do not pay attention to your dog, you may confuse dog dementia with other normal aging behaviors. This might lead to even worsened dementia accompanied by other Canine Cognitive Dysfunction symptoms.
In most cases, people do not notice the symptoms of dog dementia and so it is left untreated for some time and thus making it worse. To be able to notice dementia in dogs, you should understand the symptoms, causes and treatment options.
Understanding dog dementia
Even though any dog can suffer dementia, older dogs are at a higher risk than younger dogs. Dog dementia will lead to a strain in your relationship with your dog as he will stop functioning as he was before.
The condition may lead to your dog greeting you when you come or even caring to show excitement. What’s worse? He might actually end up isolated from you and your family completely. There are four ways Canine Cognitive Dysfunction may present itself in dogs;
i) Involutive Depression
This disorder is common with aging dogs that have been exposed to untreated anxiety for a long period of time. Well, it cannot be emphasized how harmful anxiety can be for your dog. Just like humans, dogs have emotions of anxiety, fear, and happiness.
Separation anxiety is common in dogs that are left alone at home with nothing to do but wait for his master. Modern lifestyle requires most of us to go to work all day, leaving our pups at home all alone. Over time, your dog may develop anxiety related to the fear of being alone which might lead to depression if you do not address the conditions.
With innovative depression, your dog will experience difficulty in learning and obeying the commands you have spent your life teaching him. How disappointing, right? Other symptoms of this condition may include wandering, lethargy, sleep-wake disorders, and also soiling your house.
If you find your dog forgetting or ignoring your commands and wandering all over, you might consider taking a closer look at his behavioral patterns. Confining him will not make the symptoms go away as it will only increase anxiety and thus worsening his condition.
If your dog has developed hyper-aggressive behavior lately, you might consider looking into this some more to make sure that everything is alright. Hyper-aggression is characterized by failure to communicate with you or even with other pets at home.
The fact that your dog is not able to communicate will make him more aggressive than usual as he is angry. If not monitored closely, this can also be followed by the aggressive barking and sometimes he will bite.
This form of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction comes with the loss of sense when it comes to your dog’s body size or rhythm. Your pup might start trying to fit in places he has always avoided since he could tell that he cannot fit.
Due to confusion, your dog might also start howling and growling for no reason and sometimes he can develop aggressive behaviors like biting when provoked. If your dog has started hostile behavior around you and your family for no reason, you should consider the possibility of this dysfunction.
The saddest part is, your dog no longer cares because he is in a confused mode, he might even hurt your kids if left unsupervised. It is important to take him to a vet if he has symptoms of CCD.
iv) Confusional Syndrome
This is one of the most difficult CCD to deal with because not only does your dog stops responding to your commands but neither does he want to learn anything anymore. Your dog may seem to forget familiar faces and even other pets at home.
Sadly, your dog might even forget who his master is when in this condition.
In order to determine whether your dog is slowly sinking into dog dementia, you should monitor him closely for more symptoms. These might include;
– Pacing around aimlessly
If your dog’s dementia is as a result of anxiety, especially, he might roam around your compound and your house for no reason. You might even find him in the restricted areas pacing uncontrollably. He probably does not realize it and yelling at him might actually lead to aggression.
– Reduced interaction
Your dog may fail to interact with you and your family as often as he used to and instead isolate himself from the family. It is unlikely for a normal dog to keep away from his pack, which in this case includes you, your family and any other pets at home.
If your dog is suffering from dementia, he may even stop greeting you when you come home or even notice when you leave in the morning. Sad indeed, isn’t it? If you realize that your dog does not need your attention or companionship with you, you may consider taking him to a vet for a complete examination.
– Disturbed sleep-wake cycle
In most cases, people know their dog’s sleep cycle, which includes the time he sleeps and also the time he wakes. However, if you notice your dog staying up all day and sleeping all night unlike his normal sleeping pattern, you might get concerned.
Dog dementia will put your dog in a confused state, which means that sometimes he has no idea what he is doing. Like depression in humans, your dog will also show limited signs of activity if he is suffering from dementia.
– Training Accident
Your dog might experience house training accidents such as peeing or releasing himself in places he knows he should not if he is suffering from dog dementia. This should not be taken lightly as you might punish him, especially if he is fully trained.
If you observe your dog releasing himself in the restricted areas of the house or even furniture, you might consider talking to a vet about it. It is important to keep in mind that age is a major contributing factor in relation to dementia in dogs.
If you own a dog, there is a likelihood that you know what an excessive barker can do to your life. He will keep you up all night and also your neighbors for days. Even though excessive barking can be associated with other behavioral problems, if your dog has dementia might take it to another level.
However, this symptom should also be monitored closely as it might indicate other behavioral vices, and hence the necessity of looking for other symptoms before examining for dog dementia.
Managing Dog dementia
Dementia in dogs results in confusion and disorientation. However, to be able to determine whether your dog has dementia, you should talk to the vet for a close examination and consultation. It is helpful to recognize dog dementia at an early stage in terms o managing the conditions.
In most cases, dog owners do not recognize dementia and instead mistaken it or aging. However, if your long-term canine friend is showing some of the above-mentioned symptoms, you should get him checked up. This way, the vet will recommend treatment and management options.
If you have an older dog, it is important to monitor his hearing and vision. You can notice any differences depending on his normal behavior. Having owned him for years means that you know him and his abilities. For instance, if your dog would previously maneuver your house well and he suddenly starts missing doors and getting stuck, you should seek medical attention for him.
Dementia in dogs has been related to anxiety, which makes confinement difficult for your dog. Once you have determined dementia in your dog, managing anxiety is one of the most effective ways to deal with the condition.
This means that your dog should not be subjected to things or situations that cause him anxiety. Some of the things that can cause anxiety in dogs include confinement, loneliness, fear and lack of exercise. As a dog owner, you should be able to determine the ways in which you can calm your dog down.
This is a tough task since training will be less likely to help since dogs with dementia may lose the ability to learn or obey any commands. However, some dogs prefer to watch TV, others will want calm music while others have their own individual coping mechanisms. Once you determine his mechanism, you should be able to manage his anxiety and thus manage his dementia.
However, with medication, and behavior management, it is easy to treat dementia in dogs. By providing play and other stimulating activities during the day, you will be able to keep your dog active all day even when you are away. Playing and walking him is also an important factor in managing behaviors and as well as providing stimulation, both physical and mental.
Managing the environment into which your dog lives in is also important when dealing with dog dementia. Your dog may develop dementia and forget all his training, which also involves the areas he is allowed, and those he is restricted to enter.
This can be adjusted by modifying your house to accommodate him more. He might wander aimlessly and soil your house any time as well, which means he should be supervised at all time. This might also not be effective as pads or diapers would.
However, if your dog still remembers potty training, it should not be as hard to manage house soiling accidents. You should consider putting the potty in various places in the house for him to release himself. Punishing your dog after he has soiled your house is not effective or recommended in handling dog dementia.
You should also check your dog’s diet if he has been diagnosed with dementia because it is important to keep him healthy. Even though commercial foods are not harmful to dogs, most manufacturers fail to address the needs of older dogs. However, you can replace your dog’s diet with a more natural diet and also consider home cooked meals.
Since dog dementia comes with forgetfulness, it is helpful to stick to a routine. This is because disorientation is one of the most common symptoms of dementia in dogs and this will help him get used to doing certain things. For instance, you can create a routine in relation to feeding, potty trips, training, and exercising.
Just like sticking to a routine, it is also important to maintain a consistent environment while managing dementia in dogs. For instance, if you allow your dog in your living room, you should avoid rearranging your house or leaving it cluttered. This way, your dog will not struggle to find its way around.
Play and training are important to your dog, all his life. However, dues to dementia, your dog may lose the ability to concentrate, learn or respond to any commands. This should not discourage you from training him and instead make it simpler and shorter for him to obey your commands. Avoid shouting at your dog when he is not catching on the new tricks you are trying to teach him.
Behavior and Training
When you are playing or training him, you should be keen to notice any change in his behavior. If he is anxious during the training session, you should distract him by picking up another activity. For instance, if he gets anxious when you are training him, you can decide to take a walk with him.
Senior dogs, however, may get tired faster than they used to before which is why you may consider reducing the walking distance and allowing him adequate rest. Walking your dog is quite helpful, especially when he has dementia as it presents him with a chance to stimulate him with exciting experiences out there. It is important to make sure that the walks are short and go with his pace to avoid straining him.
In addition, dogs with dementia are delicate to handle and should be taken care of. This means that you should maintain a clean and comfortable place for him as well as get him checked up by the vet to recommend the best activities to indulge in with your dog.
You should also make sure that his anxiety is managed and also provide various opportunities for him to release himself to avoided house soiling. In the case where your dog has developed compulsive behaviors, punishment and yelling at him will only heighten his anxiety.
Managing a dog with dementia requires patience and consistency but eventually becomes a routine for you and your dog.