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Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD)

Spotting the Signs of Doggy Dementia

Dementia is a common problem in humans. It’s so common, people often make jokes about having “senior moments” as they age. Though, dementia and cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease are far more serious than a forgetful moment. They’re also problems that can affect our dogs.

Canine cognitive dysfunction, or CCD, is a degenerative brain condition – basically, the dog version of Alzheimer’s disease. It develops when microscopic changes happen within the brain, which interferes with normal brain activity. Unfortunately, CCD is a progressive disease, so it develops and worsens with time. But there are ways to spot a potential problem, even though we don’t share the same language.

The most common signs of CCD include:

  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Less interaction with owners
  • Failure to recognize pet parent
  • Reversed sleep/wake cycles
  • Pacing or compulsive circling
  • Abnormal or excessive barking
  • Decreased activity
  • Problems finding dropped food
  • Difficulty learning new tricks or remembering things
  • Getting lost in familiar settings
  • Inappropriate toileting

These are just a few behavioral changes seen in dogs with CCD. Since this is a progressive disease, it’s important to contact your vet as soon as you notice any of these symptoms. The sooner they can reach a diagnosis, the better chances you have of managing this condition.

There’s no way to predict which dogs will develop doggy dementia, but there are ways you can reduce their risk. Fortunately, they could already be part of your pet parenting strategy!

The current recommendations for CCD prevention include:

  • Plenty of regular exercise
  • Social stimulation
  • Mental enrichment, like “brain games” and new toys
  • A healthy diet

You should also work closely with a veterinarian you trust to create a good comprehensive health care plan, including age-related dietary needs, routine blood panels, parasite screenings, and physical exams.

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