Aging is a natural part of life. Living things cannot escape from it. That is the harsh reality one should accept.
Similar to how humans experience aging, dogs also exhibit body changes. They might have slower reflexes, or they might want to sleep longer than usual. These signs can be typical, but they can also spell trouble.
Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) is a disease afflicting senior dogs. It is like Alzheimer’s disease in humans, whereby they forget how to do their usual activities and become disoriented and senile.
Only veterinarians can genuinely determine whether your dog suffers from CDS. This disease progresses gradually. As such, most dog owners attribute the signs and symptoms with the normal aging process.
Signs and symptoms
Typically, signs and symptoms of CDS are subtle. They start as a minor problem and eventually progress to severe ones.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms commonly observed in dogs with CDS include:
- Decreasing activity levels
- Waking up more often at night
- Constant and inappropriate barking
- Getting lost in previously familiar places
How to slow down the process
Just like Alzheimer’s disease, one cannot stop its progression. However, there are specific interventions dog owners can do to slow down the process.
Constant mental stimulation
Specific studies prove that dogs lose higher cognitive functions if they fail to use their brains regularly. Simply put, if there is no mental stimulation, they can forget previously learned skills.
Nothing fancy needed here. Taking dogs for daily walks with different routes is a good start. You can also schedule more playtime with the dog to help practice previously learned skills.
Toys can also provide mental stimulation as well. Brainteaser toys, as experts call them, stimulate the dog’s problem-solving skills for them to get the prize. Examples of such include food puzzle toys, kibbles, and Kongs.
Adult training classes is another way to stimulate the dog mentally. These classes usually focus on a specific skill for the dog to improve on. These classes include:
- Agility classes
- Obedience classes
- Dog sports classes
- Tricks classes
Anti-oxidant rich meals every day
Physiological changes in a dog suffering from CDS occur in a similar way as Alzheimer’s disease. Oxidative damage and plaque accumulation in brain cells serve as the cause of such condition.
Dogs fed with anti-oxidant-rich diet showed significant improvement within two weeks. They exhibited better spatial memory and attention as compared to those who do not eat such food. If coupled with mentally stimulating activities, the results are more remarkable.
Food rich in antioxidants includes those from the fruit and vegetable category. These foods typically are rich in vitamins C and E. Don’t force your dog to eat more than their usual capacity; you wouldn’t want them to have an upset stomach instead.
Aging is as natural as giving birth. One cannot stop it, but one can slow it down. A healthy and active lifestyle for dogs involving constant socialization and cognitive stimulation is the key to keep everything nice and steady.