Many older pets show strange behavioural changes which are attributed to “just getting old,” however these may be the first signs of Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, which can be helped.
Age-related mental decline in senior pets that cannot be attributed to a specific medical condition such as a tumour, organ failure, or sensory loss may be due to a condition known as canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS). Dogs with CDS typically exhibit several behavioural signs that affect their level of function as a family member and impair their quality of life.
CDS behaviours will vary, but some of the more common signs include:
- Disorientation, wandering aimlessly, appearing lost or confused in the house or yard, staring into space or at the walls.
- Decreased responsiveness to family members, less interaction with the family, less enthusiastic greeting, or doesn’t recognise you, turns away when being petted.
- Abnormal sleep and activity patterns, sleeping more during the day, staying up at night, barking at night, wandering or pacing.
- Loss of house-training, having accidents indoors soon after being outside and/or within view of owners.
If your dog is showing one or more of these behaviours, consult with your veterinarian. If your dog suffers from CDS, there are steps both you and your veterinarian can take to manage the condition and help restore the relationship between you and your senior dog.
Any physical or behavioural changes in your senior pet could be significant. Disorientation, changes in sleep or loss of house-training could be indications of a health problem. Weight fluctuation, increase in thirst and/or urination, or any change in your pet’s normal appetite could also be a sign of a health problem. Some of these include canine arthritis or canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, common senior diseases that can be managed with medications and/or diet changes.
The first step in assessing your pet for these conditions is to have a thorough physical examination and laboratory testing to assess organ function. During May and June we have put together a special package at Carindale Vet for our special seniors. To book in for your Senior Health Starter or for more information please contact the clinic on 3849 4912.