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Treatment for Dog Dementia
Dementia in dogs is surprisingly common. It’s usually more difficult to spot than human senility, because your dog cannot hold a conversation. So there are none of the same giveaways, such as forgetting names, or other important details, which you’d see in a person with cognitive problems.
There is an advantage to knowing your dog has dementia. That’s because one study found that dogs given herbal ginkgo biloba did remarkably better, compared to dogs that didn’t take this supplement.
So, if you suspect your pet has dementia, here are a few symptoms.
Signs of Senility in Dogs
- Pacing – Dogs often pace when they are distressed. If your dog is elderly, there’s no obvious reason for this behavior. If it happens frequently, you should probably have him evaluated by a vet. This pacing can be either in a forward or in a backward direction, or in circles. In any event, this will be a departure from his typical behavior.
- A Change in Barking Patterns – Your dog used to bark frantically whenever another pet entered the yard, or walked by the house. Sometimes, he’d sit at the window, just to see if another animal dared to enter his space. In recent months, he hasn’t been doing this. In fact, you haven’t heard his voice for a long time. Or, on the other hand, you may notice an increase in barking. But you can’t discern an obvious reason.
- Not Responding to His Name Being Called – If you notice this symptom, your vet should examine your dog for a possible ear infection or deafness. Once hearing loss is ruled out, this lack of response may point toward senility.
- An Increase in Accidents – Your dog suddenly seems to have forgotten all of his earlier housebreaking lessons. Again, there may be another cause, such as a change in routine. Even a dog with a sharp mind can regress if faced with stress. For instance, our elderly dog had a few accidents while we were on vacation. Even though he was well-taken care of during that time, we chalked it up to loneliness. The accidents stopped as soon as we returned. (We paid our dog sitter extra, for her additional cleaning duties.)
- Appetite Loss – This can be another symptom of senility. But it can be caused by many other factors as well. If your dog stops eating, he needs to see a vet.
Can Dog Dementia Be Cured?
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for dementia in dogs. There are pharmaceutical approaches to managing this condition. One is a drug called Anipryl. It may help your dog function better, or it may make no difference, according to published literature. Side effects include vomiting and other digestive problems. This drug can also make an animal hyperactive.
This is a natural dog blog, so I don’t write very often about drugs. Nearly all of the information here is about a non-pharmaceutical approach. However, given the fact that a dog with dementia can be difficult to live with, this might be worth a shot if your dog is old and you want a little more time with him. With very elderly dogs, you don’t have to worry about long-term side effects.
Gingko Biloba for Dogs
A good holistic vet may be able to help you come up with another approach. One option you may want to discuss is ginkgo biloba. One study found it had a dramatic effect upon older dogs with dementia. In about one-third of them, symptoms of senility went away entirely.
There are various herbal formulas for dogs that contain ginkgo as one of the ingredients. I want to write about them, so dog owners are aware of all the options. The one shown here contains garlic and Hawthorne berries, in addition to the ginkgo. Many herbalists recommend blends, because the various ingredients work together in synergy.
Please understand that I’m not making any claims that the product shown below is a treatment for dog dementia or will lead to cognitive improvements. It contains ginkgo biloba and I’m simply sharing information on one particular study.