CANINE COGNITIVE DYSFUNCTION (CCD) – THERAPIES TO COMBAT DOG’S DEMENTIA
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) – Therapies to Combat Dog’s Dementia
Unfortunately, much like us, prevalence of cognitive decline and dementia in dogs is increasing as our dogs live longer.
Studies show the prevalence of CCD is 28% in dogs aged 11 to 12 years old increasing to 68% in dogs 15 to 16 years old. Canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) is estimated to affect more than 15 million dogs in Europe ( 2)
As the statistics above show age is significantly linked to canine cognitive decline – the death of cells, atrophy, in the brain that eventually leads to dementia.
However, the good news is that dementia is not a given – the 32% of dogs aged 15 or 16 who are not affected by cognitive decline are positive testament to that.
The other good news is that although CCD/dementia in dogs is very similar to Alzheimer’s Disease in humans, for which there is no known cure, the opposite is thought to be true with CCD for your dog.
The three most common misconceptions about canine aging are:
- Cognitive impairment reflects normal aging and is inevitable
- CCD is not a common disease
- There are no effective preventives or treatments
It is important, as with all health issues, to identify signs of cognitive decline at the earliest stage so that steps can be taken to reverse, or arrest, the decline in brain function.
What are the symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction?
The most common symptoms include:
- Disorientation and confusion
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Extreme irritability
- Decreased desire to play
- Excessive licking
- Disregard for previously learned training or house rules
- Slow to learn new tasks
- Inability to follow familiar routes
- Excessive barking
- Lack of self-grooming
- Faecal and urinary incontinence
- Loss of appetite
- Changes in sleep patterns
If your dog begins to display any of these as a new pattern of behaviour it is recommended to discuss this with your vet. Eliminating other potential causes for these new behaviours can help with an early diagnosis of CCD and greatly help in arresting, or reversing, any decline in brain function.
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Common Risk Factors for Brain Related Decline in Dogs.
Age – demonstrated in many studies
Epilepsy – dogs suffering with epilepsy have a higher likelihood of developing CCD at an early age, and dogs with a history of cluster seizures or high seizure frequency are at the highest risk
Activity level – dogs not engaged in training activities or regular exercise are more likely to develop CCD
Therapies to Combat Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.
There are a number of ways in which you can help your dog fight the onset of cognitive decline no matter what age they are.
Exercise – as we know exercise forms the basis of continuing good health in humans well into old age and it is no different for our dogs. It is important that our dogs are given sufficient exercise, 30-60 minutes a day, to maintain optimum health, both physical and mental.
Mental Stimulation – it is important to keep your dog’s mind active to slow cognitive decline. Vary your walking route - new smells, sounds and sights are as interesting for them as they are for you.
Add a variety of play activities to your dog’s day to keep them stimulated – you can teach an old dog new tricks!
Maintain regular routines for feeding and walking as they get older.
Nutrition – Dietary therapies have proven successful in delaying, arresting and even reversing cognitive decline.
Researchers found that adding nutrients that reduce the amount of oxidants produced ( Omega-3 and L-carnitine) and antioxidant nutrients that help clear oxidants already produced will decrease the overall level of oxidants and of oxidative damage to the brain. (1)
In one study, researchers tested pet dogs over the age of 7, randomly assigning them either plain senior dog food or senior food supplemented with antioxidants. After 30 days, owners of dogs fed the supplemented food reported improvements in four categories of undesirable behaviour associated with aging. After 60 days, they reported improvements in 13 of 15 target behaviours, as opposed to owners of dogs not supplemented, who reported improvements in only 4 of 15 behaviours. ( 2)
The researchers also examined laboratory dogs, including 48 Beagles aged 10 to 13, dividing them into supplemented and not supplemented groups. In this case, the supplemented food contained antioxidants, mitochondrial cofactors (Omega-3, L-Carnitine), and dried fruits and vegetables. The dogs were tested on a series of cognitive tasks afterward. Old dogs made more errors than young ones, but the old dogs fed the supplemented food did significantly better than the old dogs fed the plain food, especially on the more difficult tasks and when learning totally new tasks. ( 3)
A study of cognitively normal senior beagles tested the effects of a medium chain triglyceride (MCT)-enhanced diet compared to a control diet over 240 days and found that dogs on the MCT (found in coconut oil) diet showed significant improvement in cognitive capabilities with regard to attention, memory, spatial learning, and executive function. (4, 5)
Of great interest was the findings of a study that concluded that a diet enriched with antioxidants was more effective at reducing oxidative damage and slowing cognitive decline than supplements (6)
Bonza has been formulated by nutritionists and integrative veterinarians to include PhytoPlus® a synergistic blend of potent plant-based phytochemical nutrients -antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and mitochondrial co-factors – shown to reduce inflammation and oxidative damage, the principal causes of canine cognitive dysfunction.
Bonza. Nose to Tail Good Health.