A natural treatment for dog dementia may sound a bit overreaching to some people, and that’s understandable. We may not think about dementia in relationship to dogs, but it can and does happen to many older animals.
The condition of diminished brain function in dogs is clinically known as “canine cognitive dysfunction,” and it can affect behavior, habits, and even personality. If you have an older dog that is not behaving the way he once did, it may be time to consider the problem and, where properly diagnosed, the conventional or natural treatment for dog dementia.
Symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
Canine cognitive dysfunction usually affects dogs over the age of 11. It may be present in as many as 50 percent of older dogs, but the symptoms are not always clear enough to receive a diagnosis. Vision and hearing problems often affect older dogs and can be confused with cognitive problems.
Symptoms of dog dementia include:
- Seeming confusion over ordinary events or actions
- Unusual irritability
- Anxiety or restlessness
- Disregard of housebreaking or other rules
- Inability to follow known routes
- Lack of interest in playing
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep problems, restlessness during the night
- Excessive licking
- Urinary of fecal incontinence
Causes of Canine Dementia
Dogs’ brains age much like human brains do. As dog dementia sets in, the cellular processes slow down. Scientists believe the elderly dog brain may be more subject to oxidative stress than other parts of the body, causing the production of more free radicals that change cell activity.
Researchers have found the brains of dogs experiencing cognitive dysfunction have the same type of amyloid protein plaques found in human brains. Aging itself may cause some of this decline in normal structure and function. However, some dogs may be genetically predisposed to producing these abnormal brain deposits.
Conventional or Natural Treatment for Dog Dementia?
Treatment can help to reduce symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction, but it will not return the animal to his younger days. A number of treatment options are available:
- Anipryl, generic name selegiline, is a medication that is used to treat Parkinson’s disease in humans and can also be used to stop worsening symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction.
- Special diets, manufactured by dog food companies such as Hill’s brand and Purina One, contain ingredients that, according to their claims, help to boost cognitive function.
- Herbal, natural treatment for dog dementia such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, SAM-e, and gingko biloba can provide reduction of the symptoms of cognitive decline.
- Providing toys that encourage problem solving, such as treat-releasing toys and puzzles can help to stimulate mental activity.
- Regular exercise is important to provide sensory stimulation and active interest in what’s going on around the animal.
- Treatment by a behavioral therapist can help to remind and reinforce housebreaking and other house rules.
Helping Your Dog Cope
You can help your elderly dog cope with the mental changes by keeping a regular schedule and a stable physical environment that reduces confusion and anxiety. Providing the right diet and medications he needs can help slow the progress of the disease. Stimulating the animal with regular play sessions and outings will help keep him alert and interested in things going on around him. Going for rides and visits to the park can also be beneficial.
Because dogs receive better care and live longer than ever before, canine cognitive dysfunction is becoming a bigger problem within the pet population. Medication, whether conventional or natural treatment for dog dementia, combined with proper care can help these animals maintain function and quality of life for a longer period of time.