A medical condition known as canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) causes disorientation, confusion, memory loss and personality changes that are very similar to Alzheimer's disease in humans. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction is sometimes referred to as "old dog syndrome", "brain aging", "doggie dementia" or "senility". Like Alzheimer's disease, the cause of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction is unknown, but physical evidence, found only in autopsies, reveals the same sort of degenerative brain lesions. With age, dogs, like humans, naturally accumulate deposits of beta amyloid, a nerve-damaging protein, in the brain. This starch-like protein builds up, becomes waxy, and forms plaque. As plaque builds up, it clogs the brain and inhibits the transmission of signals from the brain. In both Alzheimer's and Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, excessive senile plaque leads to more severe cognitive impairment. Some age-related changes, like a graying muzzle, are inevitable. Older dogs are more sensitive to temperature extremes and they move a bit slower. Dogs with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, however, experience changes in behavior which, like Alzheimer's, are not a normal part of aging. The main symptoms of CDS are summarized by the acronym DISH... Disorientation - Interaction changes - Sleep changes - and House soiling. These changes in behavior could be signs of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.... Sometimes a disoriented dog....
* Stops responding to his name.
* Forgets once familiar tricks
May stop responding to even basic commands
* No longer remembers routines
* Stares blankly into space or at walls
* Gets stuck in corners, under furniture or behind furniture
* Engages in repetitive and compulsive disorders
* Paces or wanders aimlessly * Compulsively walks in circles... around a table or from room to room
* Appears lost or confused, even in familiar surroundings
* Dogs who knew exactly where their yard ended and never crossed the line, wander past the normal boundaries, becoming lost and confused.
* Easily agitated and/or barks for no reason.
For about the last two years of her life, Gretchen, who passed away 5 years ago, walked round and round the dining room table - carrying her "baby" in her mouth. She did this at least 2 or 3 times a day - doing 100 or more laps each time. Gretchen forgot how to do all the wonderful tricks she once loved to perform. Dogs who experience decreased interaction with people....
* No longer greet visitors or even family members
* No longer try to get attention
* No longer care about being petted
They walk away even when being petted and receiving affection. Dogs who experience changes in sleep patterns...
* Sleep more during the day
* Sleep less at night
* May wander around instead of sleeping Dogs with CDS sometimes forget housetraining...
* They have "accidents" indoors... even soon after being outside
* They stop "asking" to go out
* They seem to forget the reason for going outdoors