Our family has a dog, Lily, who started exhibiting some troubling behaviors. Over a long period of time things started to change, so though I know what to look for, it sort of sneaked up on me, too. It started with sudden anxiety during storms. She was afraid of them which in turn culminated into a call from a neighbor that Lily was running down the road during a thunderstorm in the dark. We were lucky she was found, panicked, cold and wet but safe. We still have no idea how she got out of the house in her frightened state. She sometimes howls for hours when our daughter leaves for school. She stares into the wall frequently. It’s sad to see her cognitive changes.
Lily and many other dogs who come to see me can benefit from a few things. Regular vigorous exercise that stimulates the brain will help if the pet is able. Dogs with joint problems could look into swimming, too.
There is a growing list of supplements and prescription medications, too. Selegiline is the most common treatment for cognitive dysfunction in pets at this time. Choline has been shown to improve cognitive ability. Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine and used in many metabolic processes. Holistic products such as CBD oil can help reduce anxiety and other products are in development. Pets are living longer and need support in the senior years so the needs of aging animals are a hot button issue.
A new food by Purina’s professional line called NeuroCare brings some hope. According to the Purina website, the food is enhanced with arginine, EPA + DHA, antioxidants and B vitamins and also medium chain triglyceride oil to support cognitive health. It’s available by prescription. Purina also gave our office forms that help pet owners communicate the current status of their senior pet. This form is now given to all of our senior dog and cat patients to help us understand how cognitive dysfunction may impact a pet’s life. You can read more about Purina’s veterinary diets here.
Symptoms of cognitive dysfunction range from mild to severe: anxiety, irritability, disorientation and disregard for learned house rules. If you have questions about cognitive dysfunction or want to take a quiz to evaluate your pet’s risk, please contact our office at 815-344-7716 or click on our Contact Us page and ask us for more info.
Dr. Jim Carlson