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How To Tell If Your Senior Dog Is Senile, And What To Do At Home
What Are the Signs of Senility in a Dog?
Does your senior dog have one or more of the following clinical signs?
1. Failure to respond to her name or simple commands that she used to know.
2. Getting lost in corners, even in a house she has lived in her whole life, and even in the yard she is used to.
3. Personality changes, both with other pets and with her human family.
4. Soiling (urine or feces) in the house, even if she had been perfectly housetrained.
5. Whining excessively, barking excessively, and doing both for no reason.
Is My Dog Has Those Signs, Is She Senile?
Some changes are normal, so not all dogs with just a few changes should be considered senile.
If your dog is senile, however, it may be a type of senility, an age related dementia, now called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. According to some research done at the University of California-Davis, over half of geriatric dogs have symptoms of this condition. Nobody knows what causes it yet, but it may be related to an age-related decrease in a neurotransmitter called dopamine.
So what can you do to make her life better in her senior years?
Treating Senile Changes In Your Dog
If your dog has several of the behavioral changes described above, the first step is to take her to your regular vet and see if there is anything that can be done.
There is a drug called Anipryl (selegiline) that may be effective in decreasing the symptoms in some dogs. It is not a cure and does not always work, but it has few known side effects (at least according to the manufacturer), so you may want to give it a try. If your dog has symptoms of senility you will need to talk to your veterinarian about this drug.
Is there anything I can do at home?
I realize not everyone reading this is able to take their dog to a vet so she can also be treated more naturally if drugs and veterinary care are not an option.
- Take your dog for short and frequent walks.
- Play new games and teach her new tricks to provide mental stimulation
- Provide plenty of antioxidants in her diet.
- Make sure to supplement omega fatty acids.
- Do not move furniture or change her feeding routine--make things as normal as possible so that she does not become even more confused.
- Walks are very important, and if your dog is becoming senile they do not need to be marathons. Just take her on "sniff-walks" so that she can exercise her muscles, her nose, and her brain.
- No matter how well you have trained your dog, there are always new things for her to learn. There are plenty of books out there on training tricks, and when you find something she does not know, work on it. She will learn a little slower, so be patient.
- Some vets feel that antioxidants may also be effective in preventing or slowing the progression of senility. There is not a lot of evidence yet on what products may help but it would be a good idea to try products like açai or blueberries (depending on where you live), acerola or other fresh sources of vitamin C, and a source of vitamin E.
- Also make sure she is getting adequate omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Many companies sell fish oil produced from salmon and that would be an excellent dietary supplement. There is also a type of jellyfish that may be effective but no one can guarantee it will work; you can find products like this, or others that may or may not help, at a local pet store.
- When your dog has been diagnosed with the condition you should try to make things as easy for her as possible. Do not change her routine (like feeding time, walk time, etc) and do not move the furniture around, so that she will not become even more confused.
What Other Problems Can You Look Out For?
Old dogs can have a lot of problems.
It would really be best if you took her in to your veterinarian and had a physical examination, urinalysis, and a complete blood profile checked. Once the results are in you will have a better idea on how to proceed. If she has arthritis, she may be in a lot of pain and her reluctance to go to the door may be because of pain. If she has kidney problems or bladder problems the “accidents” in the house may not be his fault. If she has cataracts and is going blind she may not be able to find the door or even reach it if you move the furniture.
There is no specific test for senility, but if other problems have been ruled out this will be what remains.
There are many alternative therapies you need to investigate for this problem. If your veterinarian is not willing to find an alternative therapy to help your senile dog, and only wants to diagnose Anipryl, you need to find another vet.
Get her checked out now.
Health Articles To Help Your Dog...
- Dog Arthritis Symptoms
A dog may display symptoms of arthritis at any age. This article lists a few of the symptoms you need to watch for and discusses conventional and alternative therapies.
- How to Use Acupressure to Help Your Dog
Acupressure can be used in dogs to stimulate the muscles and treat some diseases. It can be done at home, unlike acupuncture, and this article will give you some directions on how to treat your dog.
Are you willing to try alternative therapies for your senile dog?
© 2012 Dr Mark