Happy - almost 13 yrs. old
I think one of the saddest diseases is Alzheimer's Disease. It's bad enough that we get really old and then get sick, as we age, but to lose the memory of those you love, well, that's just really heartbreaking.
Unfortunately, our canine partners can also suffer varying degrees of dementia as they age. Recent studies have shown that many older dogs who appear to have behavior problems, actually are suffering from dementia. These dogs have lesions in their brains that are similar to those in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.
It is estimated that 62% of aging dogs, over the age of 10, will suffer some of the following symptoms, which could indicate Canine Cognitive Dysfunction:
- Appearing confused or disorientated. He may even become lost in his own back yard, or even in the house. Especially, if you move the furniture around.
- Change in sleep patterns, such as staying up all night.
- He may forget where he is suppose to go to the bathroom or forget to let you know he needs to go out. Remember, he can't help it and he isn't doing it on purpose.
- Decreased attentiveness, decreased activity level, or loss of interest.
- He may forget who your friends are or not recognize people he once knew.
If you think your dog suffers from CCD, get a proper diagnosis from your vet. Some of these systems alone, can be from other problems. Make sure you know what you're dealing with.
One thing is for sure helpful, as with humans, staying active and having things to do that stimulates the brain and body. Doses of antioxidants and putting the dogs on a senior diet is also recommended. There is a drug called Selegilline or L-Deprenyl, (brand name Anipryl) that can help to ease symptoms, but there is no cure. And the drug, as with most, has some side effects and once the dog starts taking it, it's a life time thing.
It's sad, but the best thing you can do is just help make their senior years easier for them. Move furniture, add ramps, raise food bowls off the floor, provide comfortable bedding, or anything you can do to make life easier for you dog to get around. Most people I know, don't mind a little extra trouble. It's just what you do for an aging loved one.
Source: Doctors Foster & Smith/Pet Education