Dogs get dementia too sadly, but a simple habit seems to lower the risk : ScienceAlert

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Dogs also get dementia. But it is often difficult to recognize. Research published this week shows how common it is, especially in dogs over 10 years old.

Here are some behavioral changes to watch out for in your senior dog and when to see your vet.

What is canine dementia?

Doggy dementia, or cognitive impairment in dogs, is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans, a progressive brain disease associated with behavioral, cognitive, and other changes.

It is generally seen in dogs over eight years of age, but can occur in dogs as young as six years of age.

Pet owners may dismiss many behavioral changes as a normal part of aging. So it’s likely that there are more dogs involved than we realize.

Vets may also find it difficult to diagnose. There is no accurate, non-invasive test for it. And just like humans, older dogs are likely to have a number of other health conditions that can complicate diagnosis.

Does my dog ​​have dementia?

Dogs with dementia can often get lost in their own backyard or home. They can get stuck behind furniture or in corners of the room because they forget they have reverse gear. Or they walk to the hinge side of a door when they try to go through.

Dogs’ interactions with people and other pets can change. They may seek less or more affection from their owners than before, or begin to get cranky with the other dog in the house where they were once happy housemates. They may even forget faces they’ve known all their lives.

They also tend to sleep more during the day and be up more at night. They can pace, howl or bark, seemingly without purpose. Comfort doesn’t calm them down often, and even if the behavior is interrupted, it usually resumes pretty quickly.

Sometimes caring for an older dog with dementia is like having a puppy again because they can go pee indoors even though they are housebroken.

It also becomes hard for them to remember some of those basic behaviors they’ve known all their lives, and even harder to learn new ones.

Their overall activity level can also change, from pacing all day, non-stop to barely getting out of bed.

Finally, you may also notice an increased level of anxiety. Your dog may not be able to handle being left alone, follow you from room to room, or be easily startled by things that never bothered him before.

I think my dog ​​has dementia, what now?

There are some medications that can help reduce the signs of canine dementia to improve quality of life and make caring for them a little easier. So consult your vet if you think your dog is suffering from it.

Our group plans research into a number of non-drug treatments. This includes seeing if exercise and training can help these dogs. But it is still early.

Unfortunately, there is no cure. Our best bet is to reduce the risk of getting the disease. This latest study suggests that exercise may be key.

What has the latest study found?

US research published today has collected data from more than 15,000 dogs as part of the Dog Aging Project.

Researchers asked canine dog owners to complete two surveys. One asked about the dogs, their health and physical activity. The second assessed the dogs’ cognitive function.

About 1.4 percent of dogs were thought to have cognitive impairment in dogs.

For dogs older than 10 years, each additional year of life increased the risk of developing dementia by more than 50 percent. Less active dogs were nearly 6.5 times more likely to develop dementia than dogs that were very active.

While this might suggest that regular exercise could protect dogs from dementia, we can’t say for sure about this type of research. Dogs with dementia, or with early signs of dementia, may be less likely to exercise.

However, we do know that exercise can reduce the risk of dementia in people. So walking our dogs can help them and us reduce the risk of dementia.

‘I love my girl so much’

Caring for a dog with dementia can be difficult, but rewarding. In fact, our group studies the impact on caregivers.

We believe the burden and stress may be similar to what has been reported when people care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

We also know that people love their old dogs. A research participant told us:

I love my girl so much that I would do anything for her. Nothing is too much trouble.

Susan Hazel, Senior Lecturer, School of Animal and Veterinary Science, University of Adelaide and Tracey Taylor, PhD Candidate, School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, University of Adelaide

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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