Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or Dog Dementia can cause a serious strain on the human/dog relationship. You should know that dementia is a common disorder that can occur in any dog as they age.
It’s time to euthanize a dog with dementia when it starts to present neuro-cognitive decline and dysfunction. Pacing, disorientation, and acting dazed are just a few signs of dementia in dogs and they should be taken to your veterinarian for service.
If you’re not aware of how this occurs, keep reading to learn more about when to euthanize a dog with dementia.
How Long Can a Dog with Dementia Live?
You would think that a dog wouldn’t live very long with a condition like dementia, however, that isn’t the case. A recent study presented results which indicated that dogs with dementia can expect their life expectancy to be the same as if they didn’t have it at all!
The average amount of years that a dog with dementia can live depends on what type of dog it is. For examples, Golden Retrievers can live for 10 to 12 years; and if they had dementia, their life expectancy would remain the same.
Further results showed that some dogs tend to live longer than expected when they have dementia. This is because of the quality of medication and neuro-exercise that they receive when they are diagnosed.
So if your dog is showing signs of mental decline, don’t worry too much, because with the right treatment, they will still live their typical length of life.
Is a Dog With Dementia Suffering?
From a biological perspective, your dog’s brain will show physical signs of degeneration and plaque build-up from the micro-bacteria that compile in their nerves, which causes the mental issues. Those mental issues can lead toward your dog being confused in the different realms of its daily normal habits.
Whether the dog can “feel” this happening has yet to be scientifically proven. More than likely, you will be able to determine if your dog is having issues with thinking and following instructions based on their noticeable behavioral changes.
However, dogs are aware of when something isn’t right and may decide to rest throughout the day or may not have much motivation to be involved in activities with you.
In essence, although they can’t physically show it and the warning signs are slow to develop, dogs with dementia can suffer from the affects of the symptoms.
What Happens to a Dog With Dementia?
At first, you may not notice it – and neither will your dog – but their brain will become affected by onset factors of canine dementia. This will most likely present itself in random and long rest throughout the day, which won’t be typical to either you or them.
As the dementia continues and develops, strange behaviors will begin to present themselves. The dog may become less responsive to commands, lose their appetite and not want to eat as much, and might engage in bizarre antics that will make you question their mentality.
Senior dogs are already a bit slow to move around and canine dementia will exacerbate this and make your dog seem older than what they appear to be. Most veterinarians would recommend some light exercise to help the dog’s brain stay as strong and healthy as possible in order to reduce the risk of further decline.
Symptoms of a Dog With Dementia
Life for a dog with canine dementia can be turned upside-down once the neuro-degenerative disease becomes malignant throughout its brain. One of the most common symptoms of a dog with dementia is sleep disturbance due to plaque that is surrounding the muscles associated with normalized sleep.
The second most common symptom you’ll notice in your dog if they have dementia is generalized anxiety. This happens because of the brain’s constant effort to recalibrate itself.
Other symptoms of canine dementia that you may notice in your dog can present as fewer social interactions, howling or whining at inappropriate times, staring at the walls, and repetitive behavior that can resemble pacing.
More serious symptoms that can determine if your dog has dementia is forgetfulness, frequent disorientation and getting lost in and out of the house, regardless of the amount of time they have lived there.
Can Dementia in Dogs Come on Suddenly?
Typically, the onset of dementia in dogs is a gradual process. Once it begins, it is nearly impossible to determine whether or not your dog has dementia simply because you can not physically see it.
The onset of canine dementia starts with neurological plaque; which is micro-bacteria that grow and spread along the myelin sheath of the nerve cells. Once there is a significant amount of plaque, it slows down the blood flow from one hemisphere of the brain to the other, thus, leading to initial symptoms such as confusion and disorientation.
The condition will continue to grow if no action is taken, which will most likely be the case. Canine dementia takes a while to reveal itself and it won’t happen until it has hit a saturated amount of bacteria in the brain.
The symptoms start to show once that happens, which is when you’ll want to take your dog to the veterinarian for analysis.
Can a Dog With Dementia Get Aggressive?
Yes, a dog with dementia can get aggressive. Whether you are their owner or just a friendly neighbor, a dog with canine dementia is known to show signs of aggressive behavior for several reasons.
One reason is because of their neurological disturbance. Their brain is being altered and degraded simultaneously which can cause the dog pain; like a human having a dull headache.
However, because their brain has a lower threshold for pain at this point, a dementia-ridden dog will try to express their anguish in assertive manners such as barking, growling, nipping, and even biting at people and other pets.
Aggressive behavior is common in dogs with this condition, and can also present with other symptoms such as excessive resting and random whining from their unknown pain. If these signs show, it is recommended that the dog be taken to the hospital to be medically evaluated by your veterinarian before the behavior strengthens.
How Can I Help My Dog With Dementia at Night?
One of the greatest ways to help your dog with dementia at night is to make sure that they always have water and food nearby. Your dog could be experiencing some loss of cognitive functioning which could keep declining day-by-day.
These effects will cause your dog to have a lower sense of awareness and a higher sense of confusion, which is why it is imperative to place their food and water near their sleeping area or in the place where they spend the most time.
You can also add making sure your dog is comfortable to the list. They are experiencing something that cannot be rapidly fixed, so a few extra soft blankets for them to rest on can reduce their stress significantly, while also being optimal for their sense of comfort.
Prognosis For a Dog With Dementia
When you first receive the diagnosis that your dog has dementia, it can be completely heart-breaking and can cause much heartache for the entire family. But luckily, the prognosis for a dog with dementia is good!
Studies have shown that dogs with dementia can still go on to live a typical length and happy life. This may sound hard to believe, but it is true.
Your dog may have spells of forgetfulness or aggression, but showing them proper and genuine love, care, and attention is a solid way to promote beneficial chemicals to flow through their brain, which could slightly counteract some of the adverse behaviors.
As optimistic as this prognosis is, you should know that there is no cure of dementia. Meaning your dog’s condition will only worsen as time continues because dementia is a progressive and neuro-degenerative disease.
Do Dogs with Dementia Forget Their Owners?
In a nutshell, yes, your dog could forget who their owner is; however, it depends on the state of your dog’s dementia status.
If your dog is in the early stages with a low-to-steady degenerative pattern, you can relax because it will be a while before your dog forgets who’s been loving them all this time.
As the condition progressive, your dog will show signs that they just aren’t learning in the same way that they used to anymore. They will have lapse in activity and will forget familiar features of their environment that they have experienced since you brought them home.
Once the disease becomes more advanced, it is a highly likely chance that your dog will become absent-minded and not recognize who is around them and who you are, even if you are their owner.
The Best Natural Treatment For a Dog with Dementia
A healthy diet is imperative for your dog’s cognitive and neurological health, so food rich in omega-3 fatty acids, silybin, vitamin E and melatonin can create and promote counter-balancing chemicals to aid your dog.
You can also add antioxidants to the list of natural treatments because they are scientifically proven to decrease the amount of radical cells that flow through your dog’s body, including their brain.
Most of these natural treatments can be found in organic whole food like bananas, berries, and orange and purple potatoes. You can also reach out to your veterinarian for prescription medication to delay the progress of their condition and the decision of euthanizing your dog.
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