Monday, March 11, 2013

Can your pet get Alzheimer's?

© 14ktgold | Stock Free Images

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.

The short answer is no. The long answer is yes.

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.

Not only can they rule out any other medical issues that may be causing your pet to act outside the norm, but they can help you decide if a prescription counteragent for Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome is the right decision for you.

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.
© Temele
Stock Free Images

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
Feline Dementia
Canine Dementia
Texas A&M Veterinary Sciences article


  1. This is a very very valuable post and I hope it is read by many. I am aware that pets do have cognitove problems and they don't always have to be over 13 years of age. It can start then or even a bit earlier..and worsen with increased age of course.

    Katie's Mom

  2. We think the answer is "yes". Skeeter forgot a lot of basic things when he was old.

  3. Pip sleeps all the time but at 15 we don't worry and sometimes she gets a little confused. We have had her recently checked at the vet and they are not overly worried. Good list to keep in the back of our minds. Have a marvelous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  4. Lovely post.. thank you for sharing!

    Em got "old kitty disease", as we affectionately called it, as she got older. She would get lost in the house and we could often tell she would get confused as to what she was doing. We have heard of other cats having similar symptoms so I do believe kitties also sometimes have to deal with it.

  5. This is very informative. Thank you for posting.

  6. Thanks for the education pals. I wondered if anpals could catch Parkinson's Disease too cuz both my peeps have it. The answer is no anyway. Whew I'm happy for that.

  7. Thank you for posting this, friends. We've wondered at times if (our sweet 19 year-old) Sammy gets confused, or if he's just deciding what he wants to do next.

  8. This is a very valuable post. I think we all realize as our kitties age that they change. Some a little some a lot.

  9. Great post, I saw some Humoms talking on telly about this, it gets so confuzzing, some say yes, some say no..I'm'z going wiff you :) xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

  10. I am sure diet can help as I know that it does in humans from the research I've seen. Thanks for the info!

  11. I have several human family members with dementia and it's so horrible ...I never even considered that my furry family members might also be vulnerable. I will definitely watch for the signs. Thanks for a very informative post!

    Kristin, Pip's mom

  12. My Molly died when she was 19 and I'm certain she suffered from kitty dementia. She would walk into the corner of a room and stand there meowing as though she forgot that if she just turned around she would be fine. She pretty much stopped grooming and was very vocal. She used her litter faithfully although occasionally she would miss the box a little so we put puppy training pads underneath to catch any spills. She was still affectionate and would eagerly greet us for attention. We helped her through her aging difficulties and she had quality of life right up until the end!

  13. We did have a dog that lived to be almost 20 who suffered from this, and the vet put on medication which really helped. Though we have had a few cats who have lived to be that old, I have never noticed any of these symptoms. Purrs and hugs from the kitties at, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Josette

  14. Thank´s for sharing the info !
    My mom-persons aunt have Alzheimer's wich she is getting medicine for and they work great ( so far).


Coolio! A comment? For US?