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Canine Dementia

June 1 2020

Did you know that dogs can get dementia? Just like people, our canine pals sometimes suffer from a decline in cognitive functions as he ages. Fido can’t tell you that he forgot where his bed was, or can’t remember what Lay Down means, so it’s up to you to watch for warning signs. A local Cherry Hill, NJ vet discusses doggy dementia below.


There is an official term for canine dementia: canine cognitive dysfunction, or CCD. Cases have become more common recently, possibly because of the advances in veterinary care and pet care options, which are helping dogs live longer. The term CCD actually describes a few different cognitive issues. Depression, which is very similar to human depression, is a common one. Dysthymia is a reduced awareness of body size and length, while Hyper-aggression is a breakdown of the way dogs process and react to threats. Dogs with this condition often forget to give off the usual pre-bite warning signs, such as growling. This often manifests as ‘bite before bark.’ Finally, there is Confusional Syndrome, which, as the name suggests, is a decline in mental ability, similar to Alzheimer’s in humans.


The signs of doggy dementia can vary wildly from pup to pup. Some common red flags include pacing, repeatedly turning in circles, staring at walls or into space, walking into walls, getting ‘stuck’ in corners, not getting out of the way when someone approaches them or opens a door, and generally appearing lost or confused. Then there are the DISHA symptoms, which form the acronym DISHA: disorientation, (altered) interactions with people or other pets, sleep cycle changes, house soiling, and activity level changes. These symptoms can form in giant breeds as early as age five, but may not appear in smaller dogs until much later.


While there is no one specific treatment for CCD, there are a variety of things that can help. First and foremost, make sure that Fido is eating a good, nutritious diet that is appropriate for his age. Your vet may also recommend certain supplements, such as Denamarin, Silybin, Vitamin E, Cholodin, and/or Omega-3 fatty acids. Medication may also help. You may also need to do some puppyproofing. Every dog is different, so ask your vet for specific advice.

Do you know or suspect that your canine buddy has CCD? Contact us, your local Cherry Hill, NJ vet clinic, today!

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