Recognizing Dementia in Dogs



Like humans, dogs can face cognitive impairment in their later years. Since pets are living longer with better quality care, there may be an increase in the incidence of this condition. By educating pet owners on the symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) and offering products that can help dogs dealing with this condition, retailers can help their customers face this daunting challenge.


Diagnosing CCD can be difficult since the symptoms can overlap with those of other age-related illnesses such as arthritis and cancer. The main symptoms of CCD can be summed up with a helpful acronym: DISHA. DISHA stands for Disorientation, Interactions, Sleep-wake cycle changes, House soiling and Activity.


If a dog appears to be experiencing disorientation related to memory and spatial awareness, this could be a sign of CCD. For example, a dog may go to the wrong door to get inside or outside or it might not be able to figure out how to get out of a small space.


Dogs with CCD may also experience altered interactions, even with family members they love. They may growl or act with hostility toward their owners or other household pets. They also may not be as sociable, in general. These personality changes could be accompanied by changes in sleep cycles. If a dog can’t seem to sleep and spends all night anxiously barking, this behavior could be a sign of CCD.


One of the most challenging CCD symptoms for pet owners is house soiling. A perfectly trained dog might suddenly be having frequent accidents. Unfortunately, this is one of the most common signs of CCD. Along with having accidents, a dog may experience a decline in activity levels, preferring to engage in repetitive behaviors like head bobbing or pacing than playtime or exploration.


Just like with Alzheimer’s, there is no cure for CCD. However, retailers can provide products that make handling this debilitating condition easier. Dog diapers and wee-wee pads can prevent house soiling, while natural dog food rich in antioxidants may be able to slow the disease’s progression by reducing stress on the brain. Retailers may also be able to suggest pet gates for keeping dogs in certain areas if they tend to get lost or disoriented in the house. If a dog has difficulty walking, retailers can also offer pet strollers. Most importantly, retailers can provide compassion and understanding for pet parents caring for a dog with CCD.


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