Can Dogs Get Dementia?

What you need to know 💞

If you’ve noticed your older pup experiencing what looks like “senior moments” — like suddenly not remembering how to do her favorite trick — you may have wondered if her forgetfulness is actually tied to something more serious.

Maybe you’ve even asked yourself if dogs can get dementia.

Turns out, they certainly can — and her odd behavior might actually mean she’s suffering from what’s known as canine cognitive dysfunction, or doggy dementia.

What is canine cognitive dysfunction?

Canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) is an age-related disease that results in the decline of cognitive function.

“It is felt that ‘doggy dementia’ is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in people,” Dr. Albert Ahn, a veterinary advisor at Myos Pet, told The Dodo.

And while it’s super sad to even think that your dog might be experiencing this, it’s actually way more common than you might think.

In fact, according to studies, approximately 60 percent of dogs over the age of 11 show signs of dementia.

Signs your pup might have doggy dementia

According to Dr. Ahn, signs commonly associated with CCD include:

  • Forgetting previously learned tricks
  • Getting stuck in unusual places, like corners
  • Not responding to her name
  • Wandering aimlessly
  • Urinating inside the house
  • Decreased purposeful activity
  • Sleeping excessively

“If you are concerned that your dog may be showing signs of dementia, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian so that a comprehensive physical examination can be performed,” Dr. Ahn recommended.

In the exam, your vet will look at your dog’s health history and might run some additional tests — like blood work, a urinalysis, a CT scan or an MRI — to determine if your dog does actually have CCD.

Treatment for doggy dementia

While getting the news that your dog has CCD might be very hard to handle, many dogs do go on to live happy lives — so long as they have the right care.

It’s important to note that CCD is a progressive degenerative disease — meaning that it’ll get worse over time — but that doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t ways to help make both you and your dog more comfortable.

Keep in mind that there’s no actual cure for CCD, so treatment is used to help slow its progress and improve your dog’s quality of life.

Although it’ll depend on your individual pup’s needs, treatment for CCD might include:

  • Certain prescriptions, like Anipryl
  • Dietary supplements, including omega-3 fatty acids
  • A change in diet

You may also want to help your pup out by creating an environment that’s more conducive to her situation. This might include:

  • Developing a predictable daily routine for eating, exercising and sleeping
  • Making sure you don’t move around any furniture and have clear routes for her to follow
  • Giving her more options to urinate inside
  • Pet-proofing your house to make sure she doesn’t accidentally fall down stairs or other dangerous areas

While life with a pup who has CCD might be more challenging, making sure she’s comfortable and well taken care of will help her live a happy and fulfilling life. And isn’t that what besties are for?