Doggie Dementia

By Kellie Tickner, Orchard Hills Veterinary Hospital Administrator

Dementia in dogs, also known as canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) or cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS), is a heartbreaking reality for many pet owners. Just like humans, our canine companions can experience cognitive decline as they age, leading to a range of behavioural changes and challenges. Recognising the signs of dementia in dogs is crucial for providing them with the care and support they need in their golden years.

One of the earliest signs of dementia in dogs is often subtle changes in behaviour. Owners may notice their once-vibrant and energetic pet becoming increasingly disoriented, confused, or forgetful. For example, a dog with dementia may wander aimlessly or appear lost in familiar surroundings. They may also experience changes in sleep patterns, such as sleeping more during the day and experiencing restlessness or pacing at night. Other common signs include decreased interest in activities, loss of house training, and changes in social interactions with both humans and other pets.

As distressing as it may be to witness these changes in our beloved furry friends, there are steps that owners can take to help manage their dog’s dementia and improve their quality of life. First and foremost, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions and develop a tailored treatment plan. Whilst there is no cure for dementia in dogs, medications, supplements, and environmental modifications can help alleviate symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

Creating a safe and supportive environment is crucial for dogs with dementia. This may involve minimising stressors, such as loud noises or changes in routine, and providing plenty of mental stimulation through interactive toys and puzzles. Maintaining a consistent daily routine can also help reduce anxiety and confusion for dogs with dementia.

In addition to environmental adjustments, dietary changes may also benefit dogs with dementia. Specialised diets rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to support cognitive function in senior dogs. Moreover, regular exercise tailored to your dog’s age and physical condition can help improve their overall well-being and cognitive function.

Above all, providing love, patience, and understanding is paramount when caring for a senior dog with dementia. Whilst the challenges of managing this condition can be daunting, the bond between owner and pet remains unbreakable. By staying informed, proactive, and compassionate, we can ensure that our aging canine companions enjoy the comfort and dignity they deserve in their twilight years.

For more information, contact the team at Orchard Hills Veterinary Hospital on (02) 4736 2027.