How to know if your dog suffers from senile dementia: symptoms to identify it and care

Although the term is currently considered erroneous, since not only people over 65 suffer from this disease (although they are still the majority group), senile dementia refers to the deterioration of the intellectual functions of the individual, leading them to be dependent on other people in order to survive. A very present ailment in our society and that also affects other species. Without going any further, did you know that dogs can suffer from senile dementia?

As with humans, the brain and central nervous system of these animals wear out over time, causing moments of confusion, behavioral disturbances or sleep disturbances. Senile dementia in dogs usually appears Starting at 7 years and it is the responsibility of the owners to realize the changes that their pet is undergoing, due to their inability to communicate.

It is true that senile dementia has no cure, but there are treatments that can slow down your progress, as well as habits or practices that they will help you both to adapt to disease. Under this premise, what does senile dementia in dogs really consist of?

Dog with senile dementia

Symptoms of doggy senile dementia

“Older dogs with central nervous system wasting have a set of symptoms similar to human patients with Alzheimer’s disease, such as disorientation, confusion, forgetfulness and personality changes “, explains from the Official College of Veterinarians of Madrid (@COLVEMA).

All of these problems have been classified as Demented States or Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, which “corresponds to a demented state in which the cognitive process is compromised in relation to the age of the animal, which can occur with motor symptoms, sensory or medical problems“, adds this specialized body. Among the symptoms that dogs with this disease present are:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Incontinence fecal and urinary
  • Irritability or changes in your social behavior
  • Difficulty following walking routes
  • Repetitive behaviors (biting and licking objects, walking without apparent sense, blank stare …)
  • Go back to relieve yourself inside the house
  • Inverted sleep cycle and problems at night (he wanders around the house, does not sleep where he used to or has a lot of nightmares)
  • Decrease your response to different stimuli and his desire to play
  • Inability to avoid certain obstacles
  • It takes time to respond to orders and does not recognize its closest environment

These are just a few examples of the changes your pet can experience if he begins to suffer from the ravages of senile dementia. However, many of them are also characteristic of the natural aging process, so they are often overlooked, which makes the situation even worse.

If you notice anything strange in your animal, especially if it is between 7 and 10 years old, do not hesitate to consult your veterinarian, as it is estimated that between 14% and 22% of dogs greater suffer this ailment, according to several studies.

Dog with senile dementia

Diagnosis and treatment

To know for sure if your pet has senile dementia, the vet will give you a questionnaire to obtain the necessary information on the status of the animal. In addition, you can request various tests to study locomotion, exploration and social behaviors of the same, as well as a computed tomography or an MRI with the aim of rule out other pathologies.

Once diagnosed, senile dementia can be treated to slow its progression and improve symptoms Let your dog present, as we remember that there is no cure. In this sense, both the veterinarian and the family should act on three levels: on behavior, environment and neurochemical level.

In the first place, as stated by the Official College of Veterinarians of Madrid, the purpose of behavior modification is to cognitive reeducation. That is, jointly, learning and memory should be emphasized, reinforcing and reminding the animal of the behaviors it had previously learned. In this case, it can also be helpful to reward positive behaviors so that you feel more motivated and happy.

On the other hand, “it would be beneficial to seek a environmental enrichment by stimulation of the auditory, tactile, oral and olfactory pathways, as well as an improvement in kinetic activities “, recommends this organism. How? By improving your comfort level through music, moderate physical exercise or the relationship with the family, who should be much more attentive and affectionate with the animal.

And finally, the use of medications has proven to be very effective with senile dementia in dogs, especially with behavioral problems and cognitive disorders. Yes indeed, before the vet will have to do a series of tests to assess the possible physiological changes that the animal may experience, in addition to making reviews every six months to properly monitor the patient. Nicergoline and Selegiline they are the most widely used drugs and are licensed for veterinary use.