Dogs also suffer from dementia, unfortunately, but a simple habit seems to reduce the risk: ScienceAlert

Dogs also suffer from dementia. But it’s often hard to spot. To research published this week shows how common it is, especially in dogs over 10 years old.

Here are some behavioral changes to watch out for in your senior dog and when to see your veterinarian.

What is canine dementia?

Canine dementia, or canine cognitive dysfunction, is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans, a progressive brain disease that is accompanied by behavioral, cognitive and other changes.

It is usually seen in dogs over the age of eight, but can occur in dogs as young as six years old.

Pet owners may consider many behavioral changes to be a normal part of aging. So there is probably more dogs with it we realize.

Vets can also find it difficult to diagnose. There is no accurate, non-invasive test for this. And, just like humans, older dogs are susceptible to a number of other health issues that can complicate diagnosis.

Does my dog ​​have dementia?

Dogs with dementia can often get lost in their own backyard or home. They may get stuck behind furniture or in the corners of the room because they forget they have a reverse gear. Or they walk towards the hinge side of a door trying to get through.

Dogs’ interactions with people and other pets can change. They may seek less or more affection from their owners than before, or start to get grumpy with the other dog in the household where they were once happy housemates. They may even forget faces they have known all their lives.

They also tend to sleep more during the day and be more awake at night. They may walk, whine or bark, seemingly aimlessly. Comfort doesn’t often soothe them, and even if the behavior is interrupted, it usually picks up fairly quickly.

Sometimes caring for a senior dog with dementia is like having a puppy again, as he may start to defecate indoors even when potty trained.

It also becomes difficult for them to remember some of those basic behaviors that they have known all their life, and even more difficult to learn new ones.

Their overall activity levels can also change, whether it’s pacing all day, non-stop, or barely getting out of bed.

Finally, you may also notice an increase in the level of anxiety. Your dog may not be able to stand being left alone, follow you from room to room, or be easily startled by things that have never bothered him before.

I think my dog ​​has dementia, now what?

Certain medications can help reduce the signs of canine dementia to improve quality of life and make care a little easier. So if you think your dog has it, see your vet.

Our group is planning research into some non-drug treatments. This includes determining whether exercise and training can help these dogs. But it’s still early.

Unfortunately, there is no cure. Our best bet is to reduce the risk of contracting the disease. This latest study suggests that exercise may be the key.

What did the latest study find?

American research published today collected data from over 15,000 dogs as part of the Dog Aging Project.

The researchers asked pet dog owners to complete two surveys. One of them asked about the dogs, their state of health and their physical activity. The second assessed the dogs’ cognitive function.

It is believed that approximately 1.4% of dogs have canine cognitive dysfunction.

For dogs over 10 years old, each additional year of life increases the risk of developing dementia by more than 50%. Less active dogs were nearly 6.5 times more likely to have dementia than highly active dogs.

While this may suggest that regular exercise may protect dogs against dementia, we can’t be sure about this type of study. Dogs with dementia or showing early signs of dementia may be less likely to exercise.

However, we do know that exercise can reduce the risk of dementia at people’s Place. So, walking our dogs can help them and help us reduce the risk of dementia.

“I love my daughter so much”

Caring for a dog with dementia can be challenging, but rewarding. In fact, our group is studying the impact on caregivers.

We believe the burden and stress may be similar to what has been reported when take care of people for someone with Alzheimer’s.

We also know that people love their old dogs. One research participant told us:

I love my daughter so much that I will do anything for her. Nothing is too much trouble for them.The conversation

Susan HazelLecturer, School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, University of Adelaide and Tracey TaylorPhD student, School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, University of Adelaide

This article is republished from The conversation under Creative Commons license. Read it original article.

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