Dementia is Common in Canine Seniors

Question:
My 13 year Sheepdog has started barking since he came out of kennels in March. I have gotten complaints from my neighbour as I live in second floor flat. My dog is kept in the kitchen where he has an area to walk about since he started to have incontinence about a year ago. Even if he has been out for a nice walk and toilet he is still barking. I thought it was due to seagulls squawking.

Dr. Nichol:
This poor fellow has been losing his mental faculties dating back to the start of his house soiling. That stint at the kennel caused him a bit of stress which led to confusion and pointless barking. He may have cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). There are ways of helping him for a while but the long term prognosis is poor. I’m sorry.

Many dogs with CDS show additional signs. It’s common for them to get disoriented, act clingy or show less interest in family and other pets. They may sleep more during the day but pace restlessly at night. Almost identical to Alzheimer’s of humans this degenerative brain disease robs its victims of their memories and relationships as their personalities fade. CDS is common; it affects 28% of dogs who are your boy’s age.

Before settling on a diagnosis of CDS your veterinarian will need to conduct a thorough physical exam and neurologic evaluation. A lab profile will help rule out problems like kidney or liver failure. If your canine senior’s internal functions are OK medication, Senilife, and a special diet should be started. An Adaptil pheromone diffuser can improve his quality of life by helping him stay calm.

The two of you can share twice daily brisk walks and some interactive brain games to sharpen your good dog’s cognition. Do whatever it takes to make his last chapter good for both of you. And thanks for contacting me from across the pond.
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A couple of weeks ago I explained my dilemma regarding the costs of specialized staining and microscopic analysis for my research into cognitive dysfunction syndrome. Dog lovers have been generous. Thanks so much to everybody who contributed. I will share updates as our work progresses.