Such a condition, sometimes called the syndrome of an old dog, is a newly recognized disease, which is something similar to Alzheimer's in humans. In dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome, the brain undergoes a series of changes that lead to a decrease in mental abilities associated with the processes of thinking, recognition, memory, and acquired behavioral skills. Fifty percent of dogs older than 10 years have one or more symptoms of cognitive dysfunction syndrome. Cognitive dysfunction is a progressive disease with increased signs of senile (senile) behavior.
Disorientation is one of the principal symptoms of the syndrome of cognitive dysfunction. The dog seems to be lost in the house or yard, hammered into a corner, under or behind the furniture, finds the door with difficulty (stumbles on the jamb or goes to the wrong door), does not recognize familiar people and does not respond to oral commands or own name. In such cases, loss of sight and hearing should be avoided.
Sleep and activity can be disturbed. During the day the dog sleeps longer, but at night - less. The level of purposeful activity decreases and the aimless wandering becomes more frequent. A dog with a disorder of cognitive functions can also behave compulsively, with circular motion, tremor, stiffness and weakness.
In addition, suffering training. A dog can urinate and / or defecate in the house, sometimes even in the sight of his owners, and may ask less often on the street.
Often, relationships with family members become less intense. The dog requires less attention, often goes away when it is stroked, shows less enthusiasm when they greet her, and may no longer perceive family members. Individual dogs may require contact with a person 24 hours a day.
Some of these symptoms can develop due to age-related physical changes, rather than cognitive dysfunction. The only reason for such behavioral changes may be medical conditions such as cancer, infectious diseases, organ failure or side effects of medications, or they can worsen the underlying disease. Diagnosis and exclusion of these medical problems should be performed before senile symptoms contribute to the development of the syndrome of cognitive dysfunction.
Studies in the field of aging of the canine brain have revealed a fairly large number of pathological symptoms that can be responsible for many symptoms of the syndrome of cognitive dysfunction. The protein, called B-amyloid, is deposited in the white and gray matter of the brain and forms plaques that lead to cell death and brain damage. Changes in numerous neurotransmitter chemicals, including serotonin, norepinephrine (norepinephrine) and dopamine, have been described. In addition, the level of oxygen in the brain of old dogs decreases.
There are no specific tests to identify the syndrome of cognitive dysfunction. The number of symptoms that appear in the dog, and the severity of senile behavior are important elements for diagnosing. MRI can show a certain level of brain reduction, but this examination is rare - only if there is a suspicion of a brain tumor. Knowledge of the diagnosis facilitates understanding of dog behavior.
Treatment: It has been shown that the drug Anipril (seleginil), which in humans is used to treat Parkinson's disease, significantly improves the symptoms and quality of life of many dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome. The medication is given once a day in the form of a pill. Since currently available drug treatment, when behavioral changes occur in an aging dog it is very important to seek the advice of a veterinarian.
Additional positive effects can be achieved by feeding the dog on a therapeutic diet for dogs with age-related brain changes (Hill's b / d). This diet with an additional amount of antioxidants has been specially developed for older dogs. Such dogs can also feel an improvement in the treatment of acupuncture and Chinese herbs.