Dementia is an epidemic among dogs. According to one study, published on a website devoted to marketing a prescription for senile dogs, more than 62 percent of dogs between the ages of 11 and 16 showed evidence of cognitive decline.
This condition is now known as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. A medication called Anipryl is often prescribed for this set of symptoms.
The symptoms of Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) are similar to human Alzheimer’s disease. With dogs, this can include sleeping more during the day, having more accidents, not letting you know when it’s time to go out, pacing around the house (a sign of distress) and not appearing to recognize family members.
Treating Senile Dementia in Dogs
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Some of this sounds like normal signs of aging. But if the problem is severe, and your dog seems very disoriented, your options are limited to pharmaceutical and natural.
The drug Anipryl is FDA approved for the treatment of canine CDS. One study showed that 69 percent of dogs did show improvement in one of the clinical markers for CDS. However, this was only slightly higher than the placebo group, in which 52 percent of the owners reported their pet’s had improved.
Like all pharmaceuticals, Anipryl has side effects. These can including vomiting, diarrhea, appetite loss, lethargy or hyperactivity.
Canine Cognitive Supplements
There is one very encouraging study supporting an herbal approach to canine dementia. Elderly dogs that were given a ginkgo extract showed a dramatic improvement. In one-third of the pets, behavioral changes disappeared, according to their owners. Four out of five dogs participating in the study showed varying levels of improvement.
If my dog were showing serious behavioral changes, for me it would be an easy choice. I’d go with the gingko biloba. That’s because herbs have the potential to heal and help the body detox, which can improve your dog’s overall well being.
Gingko Biloba for Dogs
Perhaps because of this study, there’s interest in giving ginkgo biloba to dogs. Research has definitely shown this natural remedy can help offset the decline associated with Alzheimer’s in humans.
One large veterinary group has even published a favorable report, encouraging owners to give their dogs this herb if they feel it’s needed.
We do know that gingko biloba is safe for dogs. It’s one of the ingredients in Dr. Harvey’s Golden Years geriatric supplement for dogs. This whole food supplement also contains flax seed, alfalfa, kelp rose hips, ginger, licorice, nettle, rosemary, burdock, red clover, suma, yellow dock and marigold.
This supplement is sold by Dr. Harvey’s, a company founded by Dr. Harvey Cohen, a holistic animal care expert. Early on, before most people realized that dogs respond to natural remedies, he recognized the need for healthy dog food and supplements.
What I particularly like about this brand of supplements is the fact that they are made from whole herbs and not laboratory derived isolates. They can also be taken by healthy elderly dogs, whose owners want to try to keep them that way.