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Petology: Cognitive Behavior Disorder in Dogs and Cats - Animal Alzheimer's Disease and Pets

Updated on April 23, 2011

Dogs and Cats Can Develop Alzheimer's Disease

Pet owners are starting to recognize cognitive disorders in their pets, but don’t know what to do. It is known as cat and canine dementia and affects many older pets. Some aged pets may seem confused, disorientation, distant, have personality changes.This is known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD). It is similar to Alzheimer’s disease and causes physical changes in the chemicals and on the brain. Studies show physical lesions on the brain similar to Alzheimers in people. This causes deterioration in brain functioning, remembering, and behavior changes.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Pet Alzheimer's

Here are some signs of CCD in your dog:
  • Doesn’t respond to familar commands or does not answer readily to their names, or recognize toys or family members
  • They become disoriented in familar places
  • They become trapped behind furniture or in a part of a room
  • Can’t find their way our of a room or find the door, going down stairways
  • If they lose their playfulness, or resistant to going outside
  • Noticeable shaking or trembling standing or laying down
  • Wandering aimlessly around your home
  • Increased sleeping during the day
  • Difficulty in learning new commands
  • Has accidents in the house, even after going outside
  • Staring into space or blankly at walls
  • Being startled by lighting, tv, and other similar sights and sounds
  • Change in eating habits and hesistancy to take treats

Veterinarians Rule Out Other Medical Conditions First

Depending on the dog, degenerative neurological disorders can show up at different ages. Great danes only live to about 7 or 8 years old, which means they age faster. Pet alzheimers can show up as young as 5 years of age. The giant breeds will tend to get the disorder at a younger age.In cats, it is called kittie Alzheimers disease and can be seen as young as a 7 year old.

There is no test to detect the degenerative problem, but the vets can do things to rule out other conditions like diabetes and heart problems. If they respond to treatments for this, the cognitive disorder can usually be ruled out.

New Medications are Very Effective

Some medications andnatural remedies are starting to be used to battle pet alzheimers.AniprylR is a medication approved for treating the disorder.It works by increasing the amount of dopamine in the dog’s brain. It is given everyday once the diagnosis is made.

Some side effects, although rare, include disorientation, restlessness, vomiting, weakness, anorexia, anemia, polydipsia, and stiffness. The drug can be costly.For cats, CholodinR, which has many types of B vitamins has shown to be effective responses.

Mind Stimulating Toys for Your Dogs

Mention Any Change in Behavior to Your Vet

For years, veterinarians have called these symptoms a normal part of aging and to senility. As science becomes more advanced, CCD is becoming more easily diagnosed and more treatments are becoming available.If you notice these symptoms, make sure you mention the changing habits of your dog to your vet. Not all symptoms mean your dog has CCD.

Arthritis can make a dog become lethargic and less active. If a dog loses their hearing, or vision, they may be less attentive. Incontinence could be a sign of kidney disease or urinary infection. Your veterinarian will test for these condtions. If CCD exists, there are treatments you can apply.There is no cure for CCD at this time. The drugs are showing good results and proving to be effective, even though they are expensive.

If your dog is diagnosed with CCD, you can help them cope with the disorder. Consider the surroundings your dog is dealing with. Help make their environment safe. Try to keep your dog’s surroundings familiar and easy for them to get around. Keep their environment friendly to make things easier for them.

What to Do If:

Studies are also showing, regular physical activity and moderate exercise helps to mentally stimulate your pet. Give them interactive toys and feed them foods high in antioxidants to help them maintain better mental functioning.Consult your veterinarian before you make any major changes in your dog’s food or supplements.

Make things easier for your pet if they do have CCD:

  • Avoid rearranging the furniture in your home
  • Get rid of clutter so there is more room for you dog to make their way around
  • A ramp might be helpful for getting around stairs or on the bed
  • Introduce new toys and food slowly
  • Do the same for new people and new pets
  • Develop a routine for feeding, walking and other routines
  • Keep the commands you tell your dog to a few words so it is simple for them
  • Be patient, gentle and compassionate
  • Play with your dogs and cats for short intervals.

You Can Take Preventative Measures Today

The director of Alzheimer’s Disease Research at the University of California-Irvine, Carl Cottman, believes walking your dog everyday is one of the best preventative ways against Alzheimer’s Disease for humans and their petsHe noted that the decline in dog’s behavior and cognitive ability was very similar to that of people with Alzheimer’s Disease. In a research experiment, a group of dogs were part of a continuing education class for canines, which included exercise and play, and an anti aging diet. The study showed these factors are important in preventing cognitive dysfunction in your pet.What you can do starting today:

  • moderate and regular exercise
  • toys to stimulate and challenge your pet
  • good nutrition
  • continue to teach your dog new things and new tricks
  • provide a stimulating environment for them
  • play time and interacting with them

Make Sure You Give Your Dog Mental and Physical Stimulation

You can always teach a dog a new trick. They don’t want to ever stop learning and pleasing you. Kong toys with food or peanut butter inside the toy provide a challenge for your dog. Social activity stimulates the brain.Dogs like to socialize with other dogs.Keep your cat stimulated by giving them new toys.

Play with your cat. Studies have also shown having more than one cat or other pet enriches their lives through interaction and challenges. The same is true for your dog.There is no cure for pet Alzheimer’s. The best we can hope for is that time and technology will help to make things better. The advancement of science gives us great hope.


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    • Perry the Cat profile image

      Perry the Cat 6 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

      Actually, mom does most of my typing for me. Without opposable thumbs I can't hit the spacebar and everything gets run together. If you know where to look there are lots of cats who write on the internet, especially the polydactyls.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 6 years ago

      Hi Perry, I always knew my could speak but choose not to. I wonder if mine can use the computer as you do, or are you just that much more intelligent?

    • Perry the Cat profile image

      Perry the Cat 6 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

      Thank you toknow. I've been watching them for a while, from up on the bookcase, under the computer desk, the top of the bathroom sink, and especially on their heads while they sleep.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 6 years ago

      You are a very astute observer of humans, but of course, being feline you would be!

    • Perry the Cat profile image

      Perry the Cat 6 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

      My lord, you just described my human. I wish I had thumbs, I'd order it online.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 7 years ago

      Hi Sharyn, Thanks for your vote and for all your great input in the comments.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 7 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      VOTED ~ best of luck to you!

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 7 years ago

      Hi Sharyn, Thanks for your kind comments about my hub. I feel terrible about Buttons. To see the reality of your pet having these kinds of difficulties is a terrible thing. I am sorry you had to go through it. Thank you for sharing your story.

      On a different topic my hub about Totem Poles was nominated for the Top of the Class Contest. I would appreciate your vote, if you like my hub.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 7 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hello TKI,

      This is an awesome hub and one that I know quite well. I wish I would have thought about writing it ~ but that's ok ~ you truly did a great job. For example, my dog Buttons had obvious cognitive behavior problems. It was so sad to watch. And I did try many of the things you suggested. I also tried feeding him the Hill's Science Diet BD. It seemed to help for a short time but then I believe he had a stroke and things went downhill.

      You have a lot of great information and suggestions here that will no doubt help many senior animals live a better life. Thank you,


    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 7 years ago

      Hi Tom, You are right, they do get many of the same diseases as us. It is heartbreaking in one way, but because they are our faithful friends, they benefit from medical technology the same way we do. Let's hope disease like this get eradicated in the future. Thanks for your kind comments. Wishing you a Happy Easter.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi toknowinfo, thanks for all this interesting and important information, pets are in many ways just like you and me and can get sometimes the same disease we can .

      Awesome and useful hub !!!

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 7 years ago

      Hi Jaye, I didn't mean for this hub to upset you. Go for a walk with you dog everyday, and hope for the best. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 7 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Oh dear! Not only do I have to worry about the potential onset of Alzheimers in myself (both parents had it), but now I have to worry that my beloved six-year-old pet may also get it about the same time that I do!!! Good thing no one ever promised that life will be easy.... :-) Jaye

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 7 years ago

      Hi RP, As they learn more about the human and pet side of this, hopefully pets and people will get beyond Alzheimer's one day.

    • rpalulis profile image

      rpalulis 7 years ago from NY

      I never knew of pet Alzheimer's, thanks for sharing this very useful and helpful information.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 7 years ago

      Hi Tey, There are many similar ailments dogs and people share. I am sorry about your loss too. It is hard to lose our beloved pets. I don't think I could ever be without a dog or dogs. That is the way I feel right now. I can understand your plight, as well as I can empathize with Will. We just have to love them while we have them. Like you said, all we can do is make the decisions that feel right at the time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Teylina profile image

      Teylina 7 years ago

      This is a useful hub; I wasn't aware of Alzheimer's in animals any more than I was AIDS, when I had to put down my beloved best friend. Will, I understand where you are coming from, too well. I am so sorry for so much loss in such a short span of time. I (and others) thought I would be better off getting another quickly, but 12 yrs w/one didn't help start over. Had to find homes for them. Uncertain about future pets--economy a major factor these days, and I often feel pet-drained emotionally even now. You make the decisions that feel right at the time. That's all we can do.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 7 years ago

      Oh Will, I am so sorry. It hurts to lose a pet and especially one right after the other like you are going through. Financially and emotionally it takes its toll. But the love they give makes it worth having had them in our lives. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      We lost our beloved yellow lab last fall, and now our black lab is sick, and so is one of our cats. Pets are a joy, but they can also be a real burden, financially and otherwise, so we've decided that when these are gone, they will not be replaced.


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