As your dog grows older, the risk for Cognitive Dysfunction Disorder increases. Here’s what you need to know if you’re worried about your dog.

As dogs get older, the risk for canine cognitive dysfunction disorder increases.
As dogs get older, the risk for canine cognitive dysfunction disorder increases.
Image free from Flickr

As your dog grows older, their behavior may change. While this may be a natural part of aging, it’s important to remember that older dogs are at a higher risk of canine cognitive dysfunction disorder.

If you’re worried that your dog may be at risk for CDD, here’s what you need to know.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Moves Faster Than Alzheimer’s

Cognitive Dysfunction Disorder is often referred to as canine Alzheimer’s. However, just as dogs age faster than humans, cognitive dysfunction disorder tends to move faster than its human equivalent would.

In this study by Madari et al., researchers noted that dogs usually moved from the mild stage to the moderate stage in less than a year. Many dogs went from the mild-to-moderate stage within six months.

There are 4 Main Symptoms

Researchers on canine cognitive dysfunction found four main symptoms. Not all of these categories will appear in the beginning, but all will set in by the severe stages.

The main symptoms are:

Spatial Disorientation

Your dog may wander aimlessly or seem to forget where they are. They may also have a hard time recognizing familiar objects.

Changes in Social Interactions

Your dog may have trouble responding to commands. They may react differently to people and other dogs. Dogs with cognitive dysfunction may show increased aggression and anxiety towards family members.

Sleep-Wake Cycle Changes

This is often the first symptom you’ll see. If your dog is hyperactive during the nighttime or falls asleep at random times during the day, they may be at risk of cognitive dysfunction.

Sleep-wake pattern disturbances will most likely get worse as the disorder progresses.

House Soiling

In the later stages of cognitive dysfunction disorder, your dog may forget their house training.

Your Dog’s Symptoms Won’t be Obvious at First

As with human Alzheimer’s, cognitive dysfunction disorder is progressive. This means that it usually starts out mild and gradually gets worse. This means that dogs in the early stages may not show noticeable changes.

If your dog is getting older, you may notice that they’re acting strangely. In particular, if their normal sleep patterns seem off and they behave differently toward familiar people, that may be an early sign of CDD. This may be the time to take them to the vet and see if there might be a bigger problem.

CDS Has No Cure, But You Can Make It Easier for Your Dog

A Guide to Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Disorder
A Guide to Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Disorder
Photo by Christian Domingues from Pexels

Unfortunately, there is no cure for cognitive dysfunction disorder. However, there are many medications that may make life easier for a dog with CDS. Anti-anxiety medicine and sleep aids are the most common.

If your dog shows symptoms, ask your vet what you can do to help them.

There are also ways to help make your dog more comfortable at home. If your dog forgets their house training, leave pads around to prevent accidents. If they often get disoriented, this may be a good time to get a new fence to prevent them from wandering off.

Canine cognitive dysfunction may be difficult to deal with. There are no easy solutions. However, it’s not impossible to manage. With enough patience and care, you can make sure that your dog is comfortable and safe to the end.