Age-related dementia in dogs

Contributed photoBuster is a super sweet 3-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier mix looking for his forever home! Enjoying the sun here with CGHS Adoption Counselor Rebecca Warner, Buster was surrendered to us because his prior owners didn’t have the proper time for him. Buster loves to play with tennis balls, and enjoys getting attention from our staff members. He needs some leash training and someone to work with him on his manners, but he is very eager to please! Buster would do best with older children, but he has not yet been cat or dog tested. Could you be the family he’s waiting for?

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) sounds like a mouthful, and it is. It is also a very real problem facing some of out present-day dog population. To take the mystery out of the term, the syndrome can be equated to age-related dementia in human beings.

This is a hot topic of discussion and research, so critical to the quality of life of all senior citizen populations, human and animal alike. Researchers now suspect that almost 20% of older dogs, dogs over the age of seven, can have symptoms leading to a diagnosis of this disease.

Before we analyze the symptoms, it’s important to note that CDS differs from the normal old-dog-aging complex. It has been identified as a legitimate medical condition. Signs of CDS in your dog probably will include more than one of the following:

n Increased urination or defecation inside the home. Those accidents, after examination, are not related to urinary tract infections, anal gland problems, fistulas, or other bladder/bowel disorders.

n A varied range of sleep interruptions or cycle changes. Dogs often awaken, pace, whine, cry, and seem unsettled at night. They may sleep more during the day and be more active at night.

n The dog’s actions and accustomed patterns of behavior within its pack (family unit) are altered. Dogs seem more aloof. They can show reluctance to being petted and groomed. Client describe their pets as being sullen, unhappy, quiet, depressed, goofy, or “in a daze.”

n Disorientation is usually a hallmark of this syndrome. As in people, the once affectionate and reliable family dog seems confused, isolated, and may fail to recognize loved ones or family friends.

If you suspect that your dog may be aging too quickly, have a thorough veterinary exam. The only medication presently approved to combat the clinical manifestations of CDS is a drug called Anipryl. Initial studies by Pfizer report an improvement in 80% of dogs in treatment after about one month. The dogs seemed to become more responsive. After 60 days, about 77% showed marked improvement in all areas of cognitive function, including awareness, memory, perception, and learning. Our veterinarians, who specialize in addressing behavioral issues needing pharmacology to further behavior modification and counteraction have access to a number of progressive medications and “cocktails,” if you will, to improve and enhance the lives of our anxious canines. We must not fall short in addressing the aging process — theirs and ours.

Feel free to call us with any questions at 518-828-6044 or visit The Food Bank is open to any from the public in need of pet food or for those wishing to donate food from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. All of our cats and kittens are “Furrever Free” with all expenses paid. Spay/neuter clinics for cats are $76 male or female, including a rabies vaccination and a 5-in-1 feline distemper combination vaccination. Nail clipping services are available 10-11 a.m. every Saturday at the shelter for a donation of $5 for cats and $10 for dogs.

Charlene Marchand is the Chairperson of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA Board of Directors. She may be contacted at

Johnson Newspapers 7.1


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