This is something we see fairly commonly in our geriatric patients. It is a neuro-behavioural disorder that is caused by age-related decline in the brain’s cognitive abilities. There are similarities in the changes of the anatomy of the brain between human brains affected by Alzheimers and dog brains affected by cognitive dysfunction.
How can we tell if my pet has this?
Typically pets will show a variety of changes:
There are other diseases that can affect behaviour for example liver disease, kidney disease, dental disease, degenerative joint disease, hypertension and some endocrine disorders so it is important to see your vet to help rule out other concerns.
There is no specific treatment but there are ways to manage it.
To accommodate your pets aging and changing needs you may need to change things a bit in the home environment to make life more enriched and comfortable for them:
There are various diets and supplements that contain antioxidants, omega oils, vitamins and minerals to support brain cell health
Supplement examples include: Nutramind, Yucalm, Akitvait
Diets include: Purina ProPlan Neurocare, Hill’s b/d
Selegiline – ‘Selgian’: It enhances brain dopamine concentrations and metabolism, it decreases substances in the brain, which are responsible for neural cell damage, and it protects nerve cells.
Propentofylline – ‘Vivitonin’: works by improving blood flow to the brain and has neuroprotective functions.
‘Thundershirt’ and ‘Anxiety wrap’ are shirts that make your pet feel hugged and safe.
‘Adaptil for dogs / Feliway for cats’ – these are pheromones that can keep your pet stress free or ‘Pet remedy’ can also help reduce stress.
Acupuncture and massage – your pet may find this relaxing
We would recommend 6 monthly check ups with your vet whilst on medications for cognitive dysfunction and here is a really handy checklist that can help identify the signs of cognitive dysfunction and its progress.