Every morning I try to get some exercise by going to my local gym. I have made a few friends there, and sometimes we talk about our work. The conversation usually ends up with someone asking a question about a dog, or horse, or cow. A friend of mine has a 9-year-old mixed breed dog that recently started to become clingier toward him; he explained that his dog used to be a bit nervous during thunderstorms, “but never like this.” He said nothing had changed in the home, but the dog won’t leave his side. The dog went to a vet where a full exam was done with blood work that came back normal. The dog was prescribed Prozac and sent home. My buddy asked me what I thought.
I have seen many old dogs suddenly do strange things—stand in a corner for a long time; become more anxious for no reason; soil the house when they hadn’t done that previously; or even become snippy and bite owners or other dogs.
Older dogs can develop something called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, or CCD. CCD is a lot like Alzheimer’s or dementia in people.
In both people and dogs, the pathophysiology is complex, and includes atrophy of neurons in the brain and buildup of proteins, just to name a couple problems. There are a few ways to treat the disease. One way is changing the diet and keeping your pet active. Special diets that are rich in antioxidants can help slow the onset. Another option for treatment is prescription medications that can help slow the onset of this problem by increasing blood flow to the brain and reducing damage to organs that help keep the dog healthy.
Many of us know a family member that has suffered from dementia and it can be hard on familial relationships. That same insidious process occurs in man’s best friend and can likewise destroy that special bond. When you start to notice sudden changes in your aging dog, call the vet to get some help.
Also, be sure to adopt a healthy lifestyle along with your furry friend. Diet and exercise are a great way to keep away many older age problems.