Ways to Prevent Memory Loss in Your Pooch
Like children, our pets grow up so fast and as their loving parents, it is up to us to ensure that their golden years are some of their best years, free from the maladies and restrictions that develop from inadequate care. Many parents falsely attribute extreme behavioral changes to aging when these problems can be associated with a more serious, mentally devastating condition.
Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) is a disease similar to the effects of Alzheimer’s in humans. Dr. E’Lise Christensen, a behaviorist at NYC Veterinary Specialists and Cancer Treatment Center in New York is very familiar with CDS. She comments, “Major signs of canine cognitive dysfunction include disorientation/confusion, change in interactions with people or other animals, “velcro” dog behavior (following), house soiling, anxiety, irritability, night time wakefulness, increased vocalization, inability to learn, and many other symptons.”
For senior pet parents, these types of changes can be a cause for great distress. “Many of my patients that come to me for this problem come in for nighttime wakefulness, vocalization, and/or panic attacks,” Christensen emphasizes.
There are things you can do to ensure that your pet is able to make the most of their “retirement” years. Christensen adds, “Talk to your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist about how to diagnose, manage, and slow the progression of this disease. One may not be able to prevent the onset of CDS, but you can help improve your pet’s quality of life even if it is diagnosed, by catching things early, implementing a diet that is rich in antioxidants, mitochondrial cofactors, and essential fatty acids (there is a prescription diet for this), creating a structured environment, and setting a time every day to encourage your pet to solve problems and use his/her brain.”
There are options available for pets already suffering from dementia. “A variety of medications can be helpful for some patients with cognitive dysfunction. Selegiline is one that is actually approved for use in dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome. Pheromone therapy can also be helpful, like Dog Appeasing Pheromone.” says Dr. Christensen.
As your pet gets older, it is important to increase yearly visits to the veterinarian’s office. Biannual visits should include a routine analysis of urine, fecal, and blood samples, as imbalances and abrupt changes are indicators of age-related diseases. Make a commitment to introducing new toys and activities into your dog’s daily recreation. Bright and colorful strategy toys and daily walks on new routes can stimulate your dog’s senses and stimulate brain activity.
All senior dogs are capable of living fulfilling, fun-filled lives. As their guardians, we owe it to them to take the necessary steps to ensure that they are healthy, happy, and of sound mind in their later years.
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