Thursday, 25 October 2018 20:50

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

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Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

Although Alzheimer’s Disease receives a lot of media attention, its counterpart in animals is relatively unknown. Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) in dogs and cats is likened to dementia seen in people. Studies have shown that there are many similarities between the anatomical brain changes in older pets and people.  

Understanding the changes that pets undergo is important because many of the behaviors that occur with CDS can be frustrating for pet parents. Knowing that the pet is not at fault will help families to be more patient and sympathetic. If veterinarians fail to discuss the symptoms of CDS with pet parents, the associated problems may be ignored and merely attributed to “old age.” If recognized in the early stages, treatment options are available to slow the progression of decline.

The primary symptoms of CDS are represented by the acronym DISH (Disorientation, Interaction declines, Sleep-wake disturbances, Housetraining lapses).  Both cats and dogs can develop CDS.


·         Aimlessly wanders

·         Gets stuck in corners, behind furniture

·         Stares into space

·         Fails to recognize familiar people

·         Appears lost or confused in house or yard

·         Seems to forget reason for going outside (to pee and poop)

Interaction declines:

·         Seeks less attention

·         Fails to greet family when they return home

·         Decreased interest in petting

·         Less interaction with other household pets

·         Decreased interest in food/play

Sleep-wake disturbances:

·         Sleeping more in a 24 hour day

·         Sleeping less, restless at night

·         Wandering/pacing throughout day

·         Housetraining

·         Peeing and pooping indoors

·         Decrease or loss of signaling to go out

·         Going outside, then returns and eliminates in house

·         Pees and/or poops in view of family


Although CDS cannot be cured, there are measures that pet owners can take to help their geriatric dogs and cats.   Medications to boost dopamine levels in dogs have been shown to be helpful.  For both dogs and cats, antioxidant and neuroprotective agents can be used.   It is important to avoid environmental changes that can exacerbate pets’ confusion and anxiety.   Try to keep regimented schedules for pets.  Provide a safe and comfortable area that allows easy access to litter boxes and food and water.    

Most importantly, be patient with your pet.  It is easy to become frustrated by your pet’s personality changes and accidents in the house.   Bear in mind that they are not at fault and continue to provide them with love and support.

If you notice changes suggestive of CDS in your pet, seek your veterinarian’s advice.   A physical exam and tests can help to rule out other underlying problems.   Your veterinarian can also make specific recommendations to help your pet cope with CDS.


Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is a holiday that is meant to be fun whether you are 8 or 80.   Although we may enjoy being frightened by ghosts and goblins during this holiday season, dogs and cats do not share this sentiment.   Halloween poses many dangers to pets.  The two main concerns involve pets becoming lost or injured and toxicity from sweets.   The following tips should help ensure a fun and safe holiday:

·         Be sure that all candy, especially chocolate is kept safely out of reach.  Chocolate is toxic to pets and can cause hyperactivity and seizures.

  • Candies containing the artificial sweetener, xylitol, can be deadly to dogs.
  • While pumpkins and gourds are not toxic to dogs, if large amounts or pieces are consumed, serious stomach and intestinal upset can occur.
  • Electric cords and candles pose the risk of burns and fires.  
  • If wearing a costume is stressful for your pet, please avoid inflicting this humiliation.
  • If your pet does not mind wearing a costume, make sure there are no parts that will constrict blood flow or breathing.   Avoid a costume that can impair the pet’s vision or hearing.
  • Keep all pets confined before visitors arrive.   An open door can be an invitation for a frightened pet to escape.  Confinement will also prevent nervous dogs from biting costumed visitors.
  • NEVER leave pets in the yard on Halloween.
  • To avoid lost pets, be sure they are wearing proper identification tags and maintain current microchip information.




Read 6765 times Last modified on Thursday, 25 October 2018 21:02