Our pets, unfortunately, get older and age much faster than us. In today’s article we are going to talk about how aging affects the brain of our pets and what kind of behavior can appear in dogs in the geriatric stage, from 8 years of age. The early detection and treatment will delay its effects and will improve quality of a pet’s life.
How and why does the brain of our dog or cat age?
Over the years, there are certain changes in the brain of our pet that causes the death of much of their neurons. Neurons are the cells responsible for transmitting the nerve impulse in the brain. As these cells “die”, the behavior of the animal is altered, since they will not have a good connection in the brain to process the information. Each year brain cells are aging, their brain loses more neurons and neurons that are lost do not regenerate again. This cell death is related to an oxidative damage that increases because the cells produce more free radicals when they obtain energy. Cardiovascular or pulmonary diseases will also affect cerebral blood flow, not receiving enough oxygen and accelerating the process.
At first sight, in a basic consultation, the veterinarian is not going to detect these changes of the brain internally, but you can see the consequences that derive from this process, which would be: alterations of learning and behavior. To all this process, it is also known as cognitive dysfunction syndrome.
At what age does it appear and how does cognitive dysfunction usually manifest itself in dogs and cats?
Cognitive dysfunction usually appears around 7-10 years of age in dogs and in cats it takes a little longer to appear. Symptoms are: disorientation, difficulty in learning, altered sleep cycle (they walk restlessly at night), etc. We can also notice a change in the interaction with people and animals, becoming more violent in many cases. Another sign that usually appears is the inappropriate elimination, that is, they begin to urinate and defecate at home due to the disorientation they suffer. You have to know that these signs are not specific to cognitive dysfunction in dogs, but may appear in other diseases and therefore, a visit to Modern Veterinary Clinic, a best veterinary clinic Dubai is essential. Our expert veterinarian will be able to rule out a disease that causes pain and sleep disorder, or urinary incontinence problems, among others.
And how do we diagnose the problem?
As we mentioned in the previous question, these are very general symptoms that could be associated with diseases instead of being a problem associated with age. Our veterinarians at Modern Veterinary Clinic perform a general examination to try to rule out diseases, but in some cases specific tests are required to rule out associated disease. It is a process that is diagnosed by discarding, that is, once the veterinarian discards a systemic disease that could cause these symptoms, it is established that it is age-related and that it suffers from cognitive dysfunction syndrome.
How do we treat cognitive dysfunction?
Cognitive dysfunction does not have a specific treatment to eliminate the problem, but we can help delay their evolution. To do this, pharmacological products are used that help improve blood flow in the brain which improves the supply of oxygen and glucose to the brain. It is also beneficial to give them antioxidant-type vitamin complexes, among others.
As an alternative or complement to pharmacological therapy, the environment must be modified. The environment must be enriched to stimulate their senses and improve your physical activities. There are dogs and cats where it has been shown that providing an appropriate physical exercise in intensity and duration facilitates socialization and thereby improves relations with the owner during the process.