Make an effort to keep your dog’s brain in shape and you will maintain their happiness and harmony in coexistence.
How old is a dog considered old?
Dogs have increased their life expectancy and quality of life, as a result of the undeniable care that we provide them as members of the family.
The moment in which a dog begins to be geriatric must be considered on an individual basis. This is because there is a great diversity of breeds and morphotypes resulting from the artificial selection carried out by human beings for thousands of years.
There are breeds that live for fewer years, such as the Bernese Mountain Dog, and that could be considered elderly from 6 or 7 years of age. Other longer-lived breeds, such as the Border Collie , could be considered geriatric around the age of 10 or 12. Equally, each individual must be looked at independently and carefully. For this, the most recommended is:
- Perform a comprehensive annual or semi-annual veterinary review
- Observe your dog : You spend many hours with your dog and you know his routine and habitual behavior better than anyone. This information is of great value and you should be alert to any slight change in their behavior. This will allow you, in collaboration with the veterinarian, who will carry out the relevant tests, to detect any organic problem quickly.
6 cognitive functions that deteriorate in the elderly dog
- Learning: it is difficult for him to learn new things.
- Memory: you forget things, like if we are home or that you just ate.
- Problem Solving – Failing to resolve situations. For example, try to go out the wrong side of a door.
- Social Response : Changes the way he relates to dogs and/or people.
- Curiosity for the new (neophilia): does not show motivation for new objects.
- Proactivity : He is seen as less active and energetic.
Normal aging vs pathological aging
Behavior changes in your elderly dog may be the first indication that his health and well-being are in danger. Therefore, you have a leading role in their diagnosis.
Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS)
It involves a series of changes in the brain such as:
- Brain volume reduction
- loss of neurons
- Alterations in the regeneration of neuronal cells
These changes are similar to those that occur in humans with Alzheimer ‘s disease and lead to the loss of cognitive functions mentioned above. Its expression in a dog occurs with changes in its behavior and daily routines.
Symptoms of Cognitive Dysfunction (DISHA)
By its English acronym these symptoms are known as DISHA and are:
- Decreased Social Interactions – The dog could display a high degree of isolation at home. This clearly affects the bond with the tutor, since affective exchanges decrease.
- Sleep cycle disturbances: occurs when the dog wanders during the night.
- Alterations in its elimination behavior : the dog urinates at home or in inappropriate and prohibited places despite being educated to do so outside during walk times.
- Anxiety: increased panting, drooling, or behaviors consistent with anxiety such as inability to stay home alone or poor relationship with other dogs on the street.
- Changes in your activity level: usually decreases, spending many hours lying down and doing nothing.
- Reduces the ability to find food on the ground: loses sight and smell and thus the ability to find food that reaches the ground.
- Erratic movements: loss and failures in balance.
Keep in mind that all the symptoms described do not have to appear. Typically, some of them appear, but not all.
The 2 points to prevent mental aging in dogs
Scientists recommend starting to prevent brain aging in your dog, starting at 6 years of age.
For this I give you two rabbits:
- Supplement your dog’s diet with antioxidants:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- lipoic acid
- Omega 3 and fatty acids
Environmental stimulation or enrichment with:
- Adequate physical exercise
- Quality social interactions with other dogs and people
- Games of smell and intelligence (toys that encourage problem solving)
Chapagain, D. et. to the. 2018. Cognitive aging in dogs. Gerontology, 64(2), 165-171.