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Canine (Dog) Dementia Symptoms: Irritability, Unresponsiveness, And Changes In Sleeping Habits

Have you recently seen your dog look all bored and sleepy as if it has just lost the zest for life? It not only has stopped greeting you joyfully at the door, but has also forgotten the old tricks you taught it! Well, this might be the result of dementia or cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS), which usually affects aging pet dogs. Although most of us disregard the apparent dementia symptoms in dogs as the part of the normal aging process, it is important to remember that the symptoms of the condition are not a part of the dogs growing old.

Canine dementia or senile dementia in dogs is sometimes compared to Alzheimer's disease in humans. It is usually caused as a result of old age when the brain begins to naturally accumulate beta amyloid, a protein found that damages nerves. As this buildup increases, the starch like protein causes plaque in the brain which inhibits the transmission of neurological signals. This leads to progressively a more severe cognitive dysfunction or dementia in your dog. The disease is also referred to as old dog syndrome", "brain aging", "doggie dementia" or "senility". Here are some common symptoms of dementia in dogs.

Identifying Dog Dementia Symptoms

Disorientation: One of the most common signs of canine dementia is a feeling of disorientation or the "lost look" in your dog. They may display a wide variety of unusual behavioral attributes including:

  • No longer responding to his name or familiar commands.
  • Getting stuck behind furniture or in corners.
  • Appearing lost or confused in familiar surroundings.
  • Walking in circles compulsively.
  • Staring blankly at walls or at nothing.

The dogs afflicted with dementia tend to repeat certain actions over and over again and also forget boundaries such as backyards, then wander past them and become lost.

Irritability and Unresponsiveness: As the dementia progresses you may observe changes in the dog behavior. Your pet may appear to have become more and more "anti-social" as it no longer greets friends and family or seeks petting, praise and affection. You may find your dog simply walking away when being petted. All the attempts of showing affection may just fall flat as the dog tends to isolate itself. It will also be increasingly irritable and annoyed, especially near children.

Changes in Sleeping Habits: Canine dementia will also affect a dog's sleeping habits as dogs display insomnia-like symptoms. Most times, instead of sleeping they just wander around, or on the other hand, are nearly constantly asleep. Sometimes they have the day and night reversed, so they end up sleeping in the morning and are awake all night.

Training Slip Ups: If your dog is afflicted with dementia then watch out for the "accidents" in the house. Many a time, this is due to a physical loss of bladder and bowel movement control. The dogs will also stop asking to be let out or when outside, they often forget the reason for being there and return home and soil the carpet underneath or behind furniture.

It is observed that the large dog breeds are more prone to dementia than the small dogs. However, by 11 years of age, it is observed that one in every three dogs are affected by the disease. If you believe that your dog has dementia then it is best to consult a veterinarian as fast as possible. Once diagnostic tests are performed the doctor may be able to distinguish it from other dog related health problems with similar symptoms such as hydrocephalus, encephalitis, renal or heart failure and urinary tract infections. Based on the this the doctor may recommend treatment options like behavior modification exercises or a specific drug therapy. For more information on dogs and their illness and how to go about identifying and treating the problems, you can also refer to:

  • Dog health problems
  • Dog illnesses

Having said thus, that dementia in canines is a confusing and alarming disease for which there is no cure. However, identifying the dementia symptoms in dogs and watching out for it may allow a chance for the disease to be controlled and the cognitive ability improved in your aging dog.

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