When your dog gets older, parts of their body don’t work as well as they used to. Their legs get stiff, their eyesight isn’t as good, and they may become deaf.
They also can appear to develop dementia, with memory loss and restlessness, not unlike people with Alzheimer’s Disease. In dogs, this illness is known as canine cognitive dysfunction and affects at least 30% of dogs who are over 11 years of age.
Dogs with canine cognitive dysfunction show very specific changes in their brains. Their brain is smaller and they have less nerve cells than a healthy dog of the same age. They also have less neurotransmitters, which are involved in sending signals from one nerve cell to the next.
Sleeping Like a Baby?
The more common symptoms of this disorder are increased anxiety, going to the toilet in the wrong place, and forgetfulness. These old souls don’t seem to remember anything you have taught them! They are also known to walk through the house at night, and can keep the whole family awake.
It’s not easy to diagnose canine cognitive dysfunction. The first thing you need to do is to make sure there are no medical reasons for your dog’s change in behavior. He may be going to the toilet inside because he’s lost control of his bladder. He may be unable to sleep because his joints are aching.
A definite diagnosis can only be obtained by doing a brain scan on your dog. This can really hurt your budget, so you’ll find that your vet will probably be happy to recommend treatment based on your dog’s symptoms and the results of routine blood tests.
Relief For Both You And Your Dog
If your dog suffers from canine cognitive dysfunction, it can really distress him and also disrupt your lifestyle. You’ll be tired from being woken repeatedly at night, and you’ll be well and truly tired of cleaning up after your dog.
Here are some suggestions which may make life easier for your old dog, if he is showing signs of brain deterioration.
1. Feed him a food containing lots of anti-oxidants; this can make a big improvement in his demeanor. You may also want to give him a senior supplement containing Ginkgo Biloba to help enhance his brain function.
2. Your veterinarian may prescribe a medication called Anipryl to increase the amount of neurotransmitters in his brain. 75% of affected dogs will improve to some extent while they’re taking this drug.
3. Keep his mind active by allowing him to interact with other people and their dogs, and taking him for regular walks. Reinforce his training, and teach him new behaviors to keep his mind alert.
4. Sleepytime Tonic will help with anxiety, and also reduce restlessness at night. It contains natural sedatives such as Valerian, Skullcap and Wild Lettuce to help him settle at night. Sleepytime Tonic is completely natural and has no side effects at all, so you can use it as often as needed to make sure he gets a good night’s sleep.
We need to take care of our elderly dogs, both physically and mentally. By doing this, we can enjoy their twilight years as much as they can.