Sunday, April 6, 2008

Cognitive Dysfunction in Dogs

Nothing frustrates me more than hearing someone say, “There’s nothing wrong with my dog, he’s just old.” Most of the behavioral changes people associate with “old” are actually disease processes that can be altered with medication, diet or changes to the environment. For example, many dogs that don’t want to play anymore are painful, not “old”, and a simple diet change may return them to their old selves. I have to dogs with hip X-rays so bad you cringe just looking at them. Both dogs are on Hills J/D and both get around just fine.

Some of the behavioral changes people associate with getting old may actually be Cognitive Dysfunction, or “Doggie Alzheimer’s Disease”. That’s right; dogs get many of the same brain changes seen in people with that debilitating disease. Most of the time, it’s the changes people notice. Changes such as: play, responses to commands, sleep patterns, interactions with people, pacing, staring into space, elimination areas.

While there is no cure, there are several things that can be done. Changes in diet and the environment along with new medications can extend the life of your pet and make that time more enjoyable for both of you. If you are noticing any of the changes noted above, have a talk with your veterinarian.
This is Pfizer’s site to sell you medication, but it’s still pretty good.

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