It’s saddening to find out that our beloved pet and companions is getting older and even harder to see them begin to loss their mind. In most senior dogs the initial indicator of this is anxiety after sunset or all through the night, though dementia or cognitive dysfunction syndrome can appear in several different ways.
Not every dementia has an anxiety aspect of it and not all anxiety in senior dogs is from dementia but the two usually go hand in hand. So how can we deal with the effect of dementia in senior dog?
- Diet Modification
Now there are prescribed diets designed for older dogs with CCD. Hill’s Prescription Diet b/d contains Vitamins C and E, beta carotene (an antioxidant), L-carnitine (which improves function of the brain cells’ mitochondria), and omega-3 fatty acids (which supports cell membrane health).
Based on The Ohio State University, in clinical trials, this diet alone greatly enhanced learning in older dogs with CCD. The outcomes were even greater when merged with other treatment procedures.
- Remove any compact fluorescent or fluorescent lighting
Fluorescent illumination can result in a high pitched hum that humans cannot hear but dogs and cats can. Senior dogs loss their high frequency hearing last so even nearly deaf dogs can still hear extremely high frequency noises. Also fluorescent lighting can affect brain functionality and can cause severe headaches.
- Manage Anxiety
Most senior dog with dementia show some amount of stress, particularly when lost in the corner of a room or if they end up awake and lonely in the middle of the night. Dealing with anxiety requires dog owners to determine what is most effective for their individual dog, such as long walk, soothing music or aromatherapy.
- Environmental Enrichment
Providing your senior dogs with physical exercise, new and engaging toys, and mastering new tricks and tasks have all been proven to enhance memory and learning in senior dogs with dementia.
- Anipryl® (selegiline)
This is the only medication validated by the FDA for use in dogs with dementia. Anipryl® is a psychoactive medication increases the amount of dopamine (an essential neurotransmitter) in the brain. This treatment is regarded as the best drug now available for the treatment of CCD, with around 75% of treated dogs displaying improvement in their indicators within 30 to 60 days. Some researchers believe this medication can actually help overcome the changes related to CCD.
Like most medication, Anipryl® can have side effects, such as diarrhea, hyperactivity, vomiting, or loss of appetite.
- Look into a veterinary behaviorist
The most detailed strategy to dog dementia requires the assistance of a veterinary behaviorist. These specialists can often help dog owners greatly and re-orient their baffled and stressed-out old pets.
- Talk to your vet about dementia-specific drugs
For extreme cases of dog dementia, veterinarians will at times talk about the possible benefits of dementia-specific drugs that often reverse most of these symptoms, though to a minor level for most patients.
When dementia advances to a point in which your senior dog is simply not present and enjoying life or great pain sometimes the perfect gift we can give them is to make them to undergo euthanasia. This is not a simple choice to make and there are no set guilds that tell you when the time is right. This can change from dog to dog. The best we can do is to search through our hearts for what is best.