From age 12 and up, dogs start to show signs of mental degeneration. If your dog is a senior and seems to be slowing down mentally, this may be the case. Dementia in dogs (also known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or CCD) is a normal part of the aging process, but there are ways you can help keep their minds sharp for years to come.
Dementia is a normal part of aging
Dementia is a normal part of aging. It’s not a disease or disorder, but simply the result of changes in brain chemistry that occur as dogs get older. Dementia can occur in dogs at any age, even those who are otherwise healthy and have no other health issues.
The good news is that there are many different ways to help your dog feel his best during this time, from exercise to cognitive training to medication. Depending on your dog’s symptoms and preferences, you may find one solution works better than another for him—or you may need to try several before you find the right fit for your senior companion!
The following are some of the signs of mental degeneration:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty with decision making and problem solving
- Difficulty with communication, both verbal and nonverbal (e.g., barking, whining) This would include difficulty following commands or understanding what you’re trying to communicate to them. They may also have trouble recognizing you when they see you or other familiar faces.
If your senior dog forgets the names of objects and people, it’s time to take a closer look. The first question to ask is whether he has any physical problems that might be interfering with his memory. If so, then it’s easy enough to rule out dementia as a possibility.
Dogs with dementia may have trouble learning new tricks and commands because they can’t remember what they’re supposed to do afterwards. They also have trouble remembering where they are or how they got there—they often get lost in familiar places like their own home. And if these symptoms persist for too long, dogs may start getting anxious about being alone; this is especially true if you’ve never been gone from home before (for example when you travel on vacation).
Your dog is a social animal. He needs to be with his pack, and you are part of that pack. When your senior dog becomes isolated from you and the rest of the family, he will begin to suffer in many ways:
- He will become depressed or anxious
- He may become destructive or aggressive toward himself or others (including you)
- The best way to avoid these problems is by keeping up a routine that includes frequent visits from family members who can spend time with your aging pet
The dog may become less active and lose interest in activities. He may start to sleep more, but he will still be able to get up for walks. He may also lose interest in food and socializing with other dogs or people.
Dementia is a normal part of aging. While there are ways to slow it down, the best thing you can do for your dog is recognize that this is a part of growing old and embrace them for who they are no matter how much they change.