Canine cognitive dysfunction, or cognitive disorder, is the most common chronic degenerative neurological disorder affecting senior dogs. A large number of senior dogs will be diagnosed with this progressive disease which is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in people. The exact cause of this disorder is unknown but cognitive dysfunction can occur due to an accumulation of beta amyloid plaques within the brain and its blood vessels. These plaques eventually damage nerves and results in the loss of proper brain function, which can then affect your dog’s memory and lead to senile behaviors. There is no specific test to diagnose CCD therefore it is a diagnosis of exclusion based on your dog’s clinical signs.
Some common clinical signs that you may see with CCD include:
- Excessive panting
- Strange behavior
- Pacing at night or wandering
- Constant barking
- House soiling in once house trained pets
- Lethargy/excessive sleep during the day
- Memory loss
There is no cure for this condition but supplements may be helpful and you should always discuss this with your veterinarian to see if it is appropriate for your pet and that there won’t be any drug interactions:
- Omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- S-Adenosylmethionine, or SAMe *Note that Co-administration of SAMe and certain medications may be contraindicated and some dogs may be at risk for serious central nervous system depressant effects or other systemic syndromes.
- Phosphatidylserine (PS)
- Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) such as coconut oil
*Consult a holistic veterinarian for dosing guidance and medication interactions
Other helpful advice includes maintaining a healthy lifestyle with proper regular exercise, minimizing pollutants in your dog’s food and environment, maintaining a healthy body weight, and regular check ups with your veterinarian. Early diagnosis and intervention are so important since it can help improve your dog’s overall health and keep them around longer.