Is your pup slowing down? Or becoming forgetful? Age-related cognitive decline in dogs is a slow, gradual process that is not uncommon among senior dogs. This article will review the signs of cognitive decline in dogs and offer tips for helping our furry friends with this condition.
Age-Related Changes in the Brains of Senior Dogs
As dogs age, there is a drop in brain glucose utilization, which may result in senior dog cognitive decline, including memory loss, reduced social interaction, learning impairment, and disorientation. People may recognize the changes as dog dementia or dog Alzheimer's disease. The clinical term for age-related cognitive dysfunction in dogs is cognitive dysfunction syndrome or CDS.
This drop in brain glucose utilization affects cells, called neurons, in the brain that transmit essential information throughout the body, helping regulate mental and physical interactions. As dogs age, these neurons start to waste away.
Abnormal proteins can also build up in the brain, creating a toxic environment for the brain's neurons. As the neurons die off or stop functioning properly, the brain loses its capacity for processing information. This breakdown of the body's internal communication leads to the physical and behavioral signs of aging that owners observe.
Signs of Cognitive Decline in Dogs
Can dogs have memory loss? Yes, it is quite common as dogs get older. In addition to general forgetfulness, other signs of cognitive decline in dogs include:
- Disorientation: they become confused in familiar environments
- Changes in sleep patterns: they sleep more during the day and are unsettled at night
- Loss of house training: they soil indoors when they've been trained to go outside
- Changes in interactions: they may become clingier and are often forgetful of familiar people, animals, and places
- Changes in activity levels: they have less interest in playing or exploring
- Increase in anxious behaviors or irritability
- Altered appetite
- Repetitive or compulsive behaviors: they may pace, circle, or stare at walls
If you see these signs, a visit to the vet is in order. Your vet will want to examine your dog and recommend tests to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. In some cases, advanced imaging may be necessary to rule out brain tumors or other health issues.
How to Care for a Dog with Dementia
After a visit with the vet to ensure there are no other health conditions, you can take steps to help your dog with CDS or age-related cognitive decline. These can include brain supplements for dogs and natural remedies for dog dementia.
Here's how you can help a dog with dementia:
- Feed specially formulated food to support senior dogs - foods that are rich in antioxidants, fatty acids, and other key nutrients that help support the brain
- Consider supplements that support senior dog brain health
- Make sure they get plenty of moderate exercise to get the blood flowing and bring more oxygen to the brain
- Teach your dog new tricks and games - the mental stimulation helps brain function
- Talk to your vet about medications approved for CDS
- Be patient - there may be accidents in the house
- Keep meals, walks, and other activities at the same time each day
- If your dog is disoriented, maintain your household furniture layout to avoid confusion
- Let people know - tell your family and visitors so they understand the new behavior
How Cognitive Supplements for Dogs Can Help Brain Health
Dog cognitive supplements that contain natural, beneficial ingredients, like EverRoot brain health supplements, may promote alertness and mental sharpness for dogs with age-related cognitive decline. These ingredients include coconut oil, Montmorency tart cherry powder, and turmeric root powder that support your dog's cognitive function.
Purina researchers discovered that the medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, in coconut oil may enhance a dog's brain performance. The MCTs provide an alternative energy source for when glucose metabolism drops as dogs age. Supplementing with MCTs may produce improvements in attention span, trainability, decision-making, and overall cognitive function.
Montmorency tart cherries are filled with anthocyanins, powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that can help promote improved learning, selective attention, and cognitive function in senior dogs.
Turmeric is thought to help the brain by reducing inflammation, preventing oxidative damage, and promoting an increase in neurons while preventing degeneration.
With a little proactive care, the proper nutrition, extra love, and a bit of patience, you can make your dog's golden years more enjoyable for them and for you.
Learn more about EverRoot brain health supplements for dogs.