If your senior dog wanders aimlessly, gets "lost" behind furniture, or walks away while you're petting him, he may have Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS). Similar to Alzheimer's Disease in humans, CDS affects the brain of older dogs, causing confusion, disorientation and other behavioral changes that are not a normal part of aging.
For family members who cherish their older dog's companionship, this confusion and uncharacteristic behavior can be as hard on them as it is on their beloved pet. Fortunately, if your dog is diagnosed with CDS, there are treatments available that can help ease the symptoms.
Causes and Symptoms
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction is caused by the chemical and physiological changes that occur in an older dog's brain. Not all vets recognize the condition, and attribute the symptoms of CDS to "old age." However, "old age" is not treatable and CDS can be. If you suspect your dog might have CDS, bring him to your vet for a thorough checkup.
If your pet is diagnosed with CDS, your veterinarian can prescribe medication which can help alleviate the symptoms of the disease.
Pacing, crying or barking for no reason
Loss of appetite, forgetting to eat, or drink
Sudden fascination with mirrors
Repeated attempts to get into small spaces, getting stuck in small spaces
Confusion about a previously familiar place (i.e., gets lost in the house, yard)
Loss of house training
Turning away from "favorite" people
Drastic change in sleeping patterns
No longer seeks attention, or wanders away when being pet
Forgets or stops responding to his name
In the initial stages of the disease, a dog will have good days and bad days. As the disease progresses, dogs may exhibit certain behaviors, including:
If your pet is diagnosed with CDS, your veterinarian can prescribe medication which can help slow the process of the disease and alleviate the symptoms.