Ask the Vet
Ask the Vet
Michael Dym, V.M.D.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Michael Dym
Back to results
Enter Your Information All fields are required

While efforts are made to answer all questions as quickly as possible, if an immediate answer is required or if your pet is in need of urgent or emergency care, contact your pet's veterinarian immediately.

*Please note: Questions submitted and the answers will appear on our website as a benefit to all pet owners. Please make sure not to include any personal information in the box where you enter your question.

Ask the Vet
Michael Dym, V.M.D.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Michael Dym
Thank you! Your question has been submitted.

You will receive an answer from Dr. Dym and our vet/tech team as soon as possible, usually the same day.

All answers are provided for informational or educational purposes only, and are intended to be a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise and professional judgment of your pet's veterinarian.

It may be necessary to consult your pet's veterinarian regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your pet's symptoms or medical condition.

Close
Ask the Vet
Michael Dym, V.M.D.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Michael Dym
Oops! Your question has not been submitted.

An error has occurred, please reload the page and try again.

Close
Ask the Vet
Michael Dym, V.M.D.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Michael Dym
Got questions? Ask Dr. Dym & our Vet Team:

While efforts are made to answer all questions as quickly as possible, if an immediate answer is required or if your pet is in need of urgent or emergency care, contact your pet's veterinarian immediately.

Do these answer your question?
Showing of | See All
Have another question, or can’t find your answer?
Submit your question
We're Sorry!

There is no answer related to your question

Can’t find your answer?
Submit your question
Category

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction: Symptoms, Treatment, And Support

Canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) is a condition in senior dogs that’s very similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Though it’s been reported in studies to affect about 28% of dogs aged 11-12 years old, and approximately 68% of dogs over age 15, veterinarians suspect that the condition usually goes undiagnosed. Symptoms of CCD are often brushed off as normal signs of aging.
Like humans, senior dogs experience age-related changes in their brain. Under normal circumstances, the brain produces beta amyloid proteins, a waste product that is broken down by enzymes and eliminated by the body.
As your dog gets older, these proteins can build up and form plaques between neurons, compromising the neural pathways that enable healthy brain function. The sulci and gyri, or folds and ridges on the surface of the brain also change as dogs age, affecting memory and sensory processing.
There is not much evidence suggesting that CCD favors any particular breed or sex, though it seems more common in older, smaller dogs. This may be because large breeds do not live as long, possibly before they can develop CCD.

Symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
Signs of CCD tend to develop gradually. The first sign is often changes in the dog’s sleep-wake cycle. Dogs with dementia tend to sleep more during the day, and may spend much of the night pacing, barking, whining, or showing other unusual behavior. As with humans affected by dementia, this is sometimes called “sundowning.”

Symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction include:

  • Seeming lost or confused in familiar environments
  • Becoming less sociable or short-tempered around other pets or people
  • Becoming more clingy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Urinating and/or defecating, seeming to forget their housetraining
  • Increased general anxiety
  • Staring at nothing
  • Getting lost in corners
  • Pacing and whining, especially at night
Many symptoms of CCD coincide with those of other health conditions that affect senior dogs. For example, if your dog has accidents, they may actually have a urinary tract infection, kidney stones, or other urinary tract issue. Joint pain can also cause behavioral changes. Your dog may find it too painful to climb up onto the couch, get out of bed, or go outside. It’s imperative that you see your veterinarian as soon as possible to rule out other health issues before concluding that your dog has CCD.

Treatment for Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
Unfortunately, CCD is progressive and incurable. Dogs with CCD will gradually worsen until the end of their life. However, there are supportive treatment options that have been shown to slow the progression.
One of the most commonly prescribed medications for CCD is Anipryl (Selegiline). It’s a tablet given once-daily that helps protect nerve cells against damage.
Your dog’s diet can prevent or slow the progression of dementia. Antioxidants, fatty acids, and holistic supplements can help reduce brain cell damage, improve blood circulation to the brain, and reduce inflammation. A made-for-seniors supplement like Senilife contains many ingredients that support cognitive health, as do most senior dog foods like Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind.
Other treatments tend to your dog’s specific symptoms. Anxiety aids like Adaptil can help most seniors, while Quiet Moments plus Melatonin is great for dogs with nighttime wakefulness.
Make sure your dog has one or more orthopedic dog beds that are easy for them to climb in and out of. Extra water bowls around your home make it easier for them to stay hydrated.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to take your dog for walks, practice familiar training skills, and provide stimulating activities like a snuffle mat. Keeping your dog’s mind and body active is, above all else, the best way to support them after a CCD diagnosis.