Dogzheimers or Canine Cognitive Disorder is a distressing condition and , just like us, old age brings physical and emotional issues which need to be dealt with. More than 50% of older dogs will suffer from dementia and the key is to recognise the symptoms early and help as much as possible. There is no cure but there are things that can ease your dog’s life in the latter years.
So how do you recognise the symptoms? Your dog may be confused, disoriented, irritable, have an interrupted sleep cycle, show increased anxiety, howling, barking, whining, pacing, staring into space, decreased activity and getting lost in the house and areas where they are normally familiar.
If you are concerned, the first thing to do is to see your vet and get your dog checked to rule out other health problems. Your vet can advise on the best course of action going forward. There is no cure - it is a progressive and degenerative disease but there are dementia specific drugs which can help.
What else can you do? There are many things you can do as the owner:
Develop a routine and stick to it
Give your dog plenty of exercise if it is able
Don’t leave your dog alone for long periods of time
Try not to rearrange furniture or move dog bowls and beds
And finally …Be patient - your dog needs you now more than ever!