Published on: March 10, 2012
by Steven Myers for Connect Amarillo
Our pets are also subject to some of the same ailments many humans suffer from on a daily basis, according to a new press release according to “Pet Talk” a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University.
Very similar to the human form of dementia, our dogs are also susceptible to some of those negative effects of aging on the mind and body.
According to Dr. Joseph Mankin, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences says “Signs for canine cognitive dysfunction include problems with learning, housetraining, awareness of surroundings, and problems with the wake/sleep cycle. Dogs may also appear confused, have increased episodes of restlessness, and may have less interest in playing or appear irritable.”
Cognitive dysfunction cases increase with age and a 30 percent of canines show one or more signs by about age 11 and it can become extremely pronounced by 16. Age appears to be the only factor, and there doesn’t appear to be any breed predisposition.
Mankin suggests talking to your veterinarian to learn more diagnosis and treatment.
“The syndrome is diagnosed based on the patient’s clinical signs and activity/behavioral changes at home. There is not a specific test to diagnose the problem, although changes on advanced imaging of the brain can give some indication. Treatment of cognitive dysfunction includes certain medications, environmental changes, and changes in diet. With this syndrome, there may be an association with the lack of dopamine and there are medications that can increase dopamine activity that can help with a patient’s clinical signs.”
Preventative measures are available. Doctors recommend a balanced diet and regular exercise. Mankin stresses that not all dogs may show outward signs readily.
“If your pet is starting to become confused, having accidents in the house, or displaying any behavioral changes, an appointment with your regular veterinarian would be indicated,” said Mankin. “There are several other disease processes that can start with similar clinical signs, so an exam and performing routine blood work is the first step in diagnosing the condition and ruling out other common causes.”
Research has demonstrated that, when it comes to medical concerns, the fear of developing Alzheimer’s (and other forms of dementia) exceeds the fear of every other type of health condition.
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