If you’ve ever had an older dog, you may have seen them exhibit some of the tell-tail signs of canine dementia — or Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS). There are over 45 million geriatric dogs in the United States and Europe combined. CDS effects 28% of dogs aged 11 to 12 and a whopping 68% of dogs aged 15 to 16.
Science is working to improve the tests veterinarians use to diagnose CDS so that elderly dogs can get the treatment they need. Early detection is key, a study of 215 dogs who exhibited signs showed that 24% of dogs progressed from mild to moderate CDS in just six months — that’s five times faster than human dementia intensifies.
Here are some of the signs to look out for so you can get your elderpup the care they deserve!
1. Aimless walking (often at night)
Many dogs with CDS lose their bearings, they may seem not to recognize familiar surroundings and will enter a room only to entirely forget what they went in there to do. Staring off into space or at walls is also indicative of CDS.
2. Failure to recognize you, familiar people and/or familiar dogs
They also may stop responding to their name, this can either be caused by actual deafness or a lack of interest in their surroundings. Additionally, dogs with CDS tend not to greet people as enthusiastically as they once did.
3. General forgetfulness
In addition to forgetting what they were doing, CDS dogs also tend to forget where the exits are. They can’t remember where they used to go to the bathroom so any and everywhere can become fair game. Some stand at the wrong (hinged) side of the door and some stand at the wrong door entirely.
4. Sleeping more, doing less
Getting old is hard work. Dogs with CDS will sleep more during the day but often less at night. They will exhibit a decrease in productive activity (exploring, playing, soliciting attention from people) and an increase in aimless activity like pacing and wandering.
Dogs with dementia can often forget their house-training and may stop showing signs of wanting to go out and they’ll often have accidents inside — even if they’ve been taken out recently.