Mindful Monday – Dementia Awareness In Dogs

therapy dog dementia

Dementia is a heartbreaking illness for those suffering from it and their loved ones. Strike up a conversation with almost anyone about your experiences with Dementia or Alzheimers, and chances are they will have very similar ones, and thus completely understand.

We had a wonderful weekend with our Grandad recently. Our Grandad how can I put this…wasn’t the greatest ‘dog-lover’ not wanting to see the dogs and certainly no filthy dogs in his house, but his Dementia now taking more of a grip he needed looking after and my dogs needed to be with me.
We all had to hold tears back when I shared photos of him watching football with my youngest dog Max by his side, and Grandads hand hanging down so it could be licked. Max, a year old Cockapoo and normally quite excitable, settled down quickly and gave Grandad the perfect distraction from wandering the house, or the constant picking up bits from the carpet.

I’ve seen therapy dogs before, and I thought they needed to be trained, but Max and Bella showed me that dogs have a natural calming effect, and there is no better therapy than a puppy licking your hand.

What I didn’t realise is that dogs can suffer from Dementia too. Dog dementia, otherwise known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CCDS) is mostly found in senior dogs, with symptoms first being spotted from the age of 7 but more commonly around the age of 11. These could be signs of confusion, anxiety, and listlessness. The more we are aware of this illness the more we can help them, just as they help us.

In an article on Bustle with advice from Dr. Emily Wilson, of Fuzzy Pet Health Symptoms to look out for:

  1. Aimless Wandering
    • Dr. Wilson says. “As dogs develop CCDS they have difficulty with day-to-day routine recognition and remembering where to go, similar to humans with Alzheimer’s disease.”
  2. Personality Changes and how they interact with you
    • Dr. Wilson says. “Signs can include seeking out the pet parent less for attention, increased anxiety, and increased fearfulness.”
  3. Toileting in the house
    • Dr. Wilson says, “Changes in house training are a common initial sign in some of our older dog patients. This may be due to decreased mobility in addition to confusion as to the ‘routine’ of going outside. Dogs may forget or get confused which door to use to go outside even though it has been a part of their routine for years.”
  4. New Aggression
    • Confusion and not recognising family members can cause hostility in your dog.
  5. Loss of Direction when out for walks
    • Forgetting usual routes could be a sign of CCDS, sticking to a routine can help with the confusion.
  6. Pacing and Whining at odd times of the day
    • They may be sleeping more and at different times, and pacing and whining for no apparent reason, all reasons to get your dog checked out.

Any worries at all always contact your vet for advice. Dementia can be crippling, but we can help each other with the love that we share.

Mindful Monday - Dementia Awareness In Dogs 1

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