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Since tomorrow is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Day, we felt it would be a good time to ask if this disease touches the lives of our pets as well.
Both dogs and cats can become susceptible to senior dementia as they age, though not all do. They can get confused, become more irritable, even get lost in their own home.
But Alzheimer’s is a form of senile dementia specific to humans.
And while this exact disease does not impact our pets, dogs can suffer from a degeneration of the brain and nervous system that is very comparable.
It’s called Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome and it’s caused by physical changes in the chemistry of the brain that is not a part of normal aging. A study by the University of California at Berkeley suggests that as many as 62% of aging dogs may suffer from CDS.
Although there is no known cure for CDS, strides have been made in managing its symptoms.
In the U.S., there is one approved drug therapy. Europe has two approved forms of treatment.
These drugs increase dopamine in your dog's brain, which encourages improved brain function.
If you suspect your dog might be suffering mental deterioration beyond what is normal for an aging pet, please schedule a visit with your veterinarian.
Also consider changing your pet's diet. Dr. Mankin of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine suggests a diet high in antioxidants would also be beneficial. Some of the higher end grain-free and raw diets contain antioxidant powerhouses like blueberries in them.
He also recommends increasing your dog's activity level - more play time! - to keep his mind engaged.
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So, do cats get CDS?
Currently, there is not enough evidence to suggest that cats suffer from this disease, mainly because it tends to be more difficult in general to diagnose cats, and because so many other diseases can present with similar symptoms.
Bottom line, if your pet seems to be suffering from any of the above-listed problems, please schedule an examination. Your vet might be able to significantly improve the quality of life for an aging furry family member.
Healthy Pet: Pet Care: Canine CDS
Texas A&M Veterinary Sciences article