Canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome, more commonly known as canine Alzheimer’sis a set of symptoms that is often compared to the disease suffered by some human beings and progressively deteriorates the quality of life of domestic canines.
Although the age at which dogs can be considered older or senior is variable, since it depends on factors such as breed, sex, size, among others, it can be said that a canine reaches that stage after 6 to 7 years. After that age, approximately one in four dogs may begin to show a slight deterioration in their cognitive ability, which will be much more noticeable as time progresses.
As dogs age, their brains become less sharp and other organs also begin to show signs of deterioration or reduced functionality.
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Cognitive dysfunction syndrome is a degenerative process of the central nervous system (mainly the brain and spinal cord) that occurs because these organs are also aging. As a result of this normal process, dogs can present behavioral changes that, to a greater or lesser extent, can be easily perceived by guardians.
-Decrease in physical activity and an increase in the time it takes to rest and sleep.
-They interact less with the tutors and are not so motivated to play or walk.
-Changes in behavior: he is easily upset and becomes intolerant to things that did not change his mood before, such as noises, the presence of other animals or people, etc.
-As a result of changes in behavior, disorientation, fear and anguish, the dog can start scratching walls or doors.
Isolation: they begin to prefer quieter places at home where they are away from different stimuli such as light, sounds, strong smells and others.
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-Loss of visual and hearing acuity: which leads to episodes of disorientation, even within the same home. It is also possible that they do not respond or respond late to calls.
-Lameness or difficulties in walking: they have nothing to do with an ailment or fracture, but are related to the deterioration of the nervous system.
-Inadequate elimination: they begin to lose control of their sphincters, so they forget the right areas and times to relieve themselves.
-Altered sleep schedules: they tend to wake up frequently at night and sleep more during the day.
-Some dogs tend to wander around the house aimlessly or may stare at an object in the house for a long time before going through it.
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Although there is no sequence in the presentation of symptoms and not all dogs present the same signs, it is important that guardians know the normal behavior of their pets to detect any change in time. Initially the signs can be observed in a slight way, so they can easily go unnoticed or be attributed to a normal aging process of the animal; however, you must be alert so that, at the slightest suspicion, seek the help of a veterinarian. This will rule out other pathologies such as tumors, various degenerative diseases or problems in the sense organs such as cataracts, glaucoma or others.
Before any recommendation, it is important to mention that, being a degenerative and progressive syndrome, it cannot be cured. On the contrary, it will be necessary to improve the quality of life and the well-being of the animal.
Although it is very likely that the temperament and activities of the dog will change, the guardians must continue to provide the same affection and love that they have always given.. This will mean that, despite physical and mental deterioration, the dog will continue to feel loved and have the necessary support to carry out day-to-day activities.
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The dog will need a space in which it can feel calm (that is: away from any intense stimulus), comfortable (warm and with everything it needs) and safe (free of objects with which it can harm itself or that it can harm). This does not mean that the dog should be separated or kept away, quite the opposite: it is important that he is made to feel loved and always accompanied. Good recommendations are to establish a fixed routine of walks and meals, do not physically or verbally punish the animal, avoid any sudden change in the environment (moving, changes in diet, vacations, etc.) and frequently stimulate the brain through games and other activities. to recover lost habits and behaviors.
Currently, there are different options on the market for the food management of older adult dogs. These diets will help slow down the degenerative process, but must be supervised by a veterinarian.
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