By Dr. Andrew Jones
This is similar to Alzheimer’s in people. Dogs accumulate deposits of beta-amyloid (a protein plaque) in the brain with age. Dogs show signs similar to people with Alzheimer’s.
Your pet sleeps much more and plays less. He has a graying muzzle, poorer hearing and poorer vision. You may see cataracts. He may show abnormal signs, such as pacing, excessive panting, and barking at the wall.
Common symptoms of Cognitive Dysfunction:
•Loss of training – i.e. house training
•Unable to recognize familiar people
•Lack of interest in surroundings/events
•Increased drinking/increased urination
•Decreased, occasionally increased appetite
•Unusual behaviors – i.e. staring at the wall
•Overall less interest/activity – appearing “old”
Your dog is considered a senior when past the age of seven. Most cats are not considered seniors until the age of 10. Older pets have natural organ changes: eyes often develop cataracts; the bones of the middle ear often fuse, resulting in lowered hearing; joints lose their soft cartilage covering, resulting in arthritis; and the brain can age, resulting in signs of senility. New research is focused on chronic inflammation such as that from reactions to grains in the diet, vaccine induced inflammation, and brain dysfunction.
Known contributors to cognitive decline:
•Barbiturates such as the common drug for epilepsy, Phenobarbital
•Valium and related drugs
•Drugs used to increase heart rate, typically during anesthesia (anticholinergics)
•Chemotherapy drugs for cancer
•One of the most commonly prescribed veterinary drugs, steroids, such as prednisone
ANTIOXIDANTS. Taurine, Flavonoids, Coenzyme Q. Of them all, Vitamin E appears to be most important in maintaining healthy brain function and delaying further loss of brain tissue; give 100 IU of Vitamin E per 10 lbs of body weight. An antioxidant combination (Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and Selenium) may be most effective.
MELATONIN. Frequently used for older pets that have trouble getting to sleep and pace at night. Melatonin also makes the mitochondria more effective. For dogs, give 50 ug per lb of body weight 1 hr before bedtime and on an empty stomach. Try it for 2 weeks to assess if it is working.
EXERCISE. The importance of this cannot be overemphasized, and it is one of the easiest and least expensive remedies. Get more oxygen to your pet’s brain by having them exercise regularly.
REGULAR TOUCH. Touch and positive interaction with your pet – it has been found that in people even though they may not remember an interaction, the human touch can stimulate parts of the brain that cause emotion. This then has an effect of improving symptoms of Alzheimer’s. The same principles can be applied to pets.
SENIOR’S DIET. Place your pet on a commercial senior’s diet. It will be easier to digest, lower in protein so easier on the kidneys, lower fat to keep weight down, and probably contain added glucosamine to help arthritis. Hills produces a specific brain diet for cognitive dysfunction which is high in antioxidants and L-carnitine.
SUPPLEMENTS: Nutrient that help the nervous tissue include B Vitamins and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. ALL dogs with cognitive dysfunction should be on a high dose of EFAs – 1000 mg per 10 lbs daily.
CURCUMIN. New research in people has shown a strong link between chronic inflammation, and degenerative brain disorders, such as cognitive dysfunction. Researchers are implicating diets high in grains, along with repeated vaccines as potential underlying causes. The active ingredient in the spice turmeric is curcumin, and this is shown to be effective in people with alzheimers. The animal 95% curcuminoid dose is 100mg per 10lbs daily.
Heal Your Pet At Home!
Andrew Jones, DVM
P.S. My supplements, Ultimate Canine Health Formula and Ultimate Feline Health Formula contain many of these ingredients which may help prevent, and potentially treat cognitive dysfunction.
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