senior dog

Dementia is Best Treated Early & Thoroughly

Question:
My sweet dog and best friend, Isaac, was diagnosed with Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. I watched your video on CDS, and it meant so much!! Isaac is a 15 year old Kooikerhodje. I am absolutely heartbroken. His symptoms are constant barking, confusion, losing control of bowel movements and pacing at night. He has lost his hearing and is showing signs of eyesight problems. My veterinarian prescribed acepromazine, Xanax, Prozac and he has been on Tramadol for pain. In your video, you mentioned Purina Neuro Care diet, Fish Oil, SAMe and Melatonin (for restlessness at night). Can these supplements be added to the current medications? I am dedicated to walking Isaac at least 2 x a day. We play and he does food puzzles which he loves.

Dr. Nichol:
Isaac is mighty special to you. I’m that way with my dog. They are a part of us, which makes their aging really hard. There are more ways to help good Issac.

A supplement called Senilife contains antioxidants that will protect the remaining nerve cells in Isaac’s brain. Adding Theracumin (curcumin) can increase memory in canine seniors. SAMe is a supplement that improves brain function. A veterinary brand called Denosyl is well-absorbed in dogs.

Anxiety is a common challenge for dogs with CDS. A longer acting antianxiety medication called clonazepam would be safer and more effective for Isaac than acepromazine, Prozac, or Xanax.

Tramadol, on the other hand, has come under recent scrutiny. We have learned that it may not be an effective pain reliever for dogs after all. And it can interact badly with SAMe. Gabapentin is safer and may be an effective alternative for Isaac.

CDS is a lot like Alzheimer’s of humans. We can help many affected dogs feel better but this is a degenerative disease that is always fatal. You are already improving Isaac’s wellbeing and boosting his ability to think and make choices (cognitive function) by sharing a couple of brisk daily walks with him. Food puzzles have also been shown to improve mental function in senior dogs. Isaac’s treatment could be custom-tailored by a veterinary behavior specialist.

Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video, blog, or podcast to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet behavioral or physical questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.