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5 Signs of Dog Dementia

7 min read

Diet, Medication, and Environment


Watching your dog lose his cognitive abilities can be a difficult and disturbing process, but there are things you can do to help ease his discomfort.


“You can’t stop the process but it’s possible to slow it down so they don’t go from one problem to three problems,” Beaver says.


Certain dog foods are formulated to help slow down cognitive dysfunction and include anti-oxidants and omega-3 fatty acids to promote and strengthen cell health.


Beaver says combining an enhanced diet with efforts to enrich your dog’s environment provides the greatest chance for cognitive improvement.


“Introducing things like food puzzles encourages mental stimulation,” she explains. “Any type of food dispenser toy where they have to roll it around to get the food out helps keep them mentally active.”


Regular scheduled play sessions can also stimulate your dog’s brain and improve his learning and memory abilities.


“If your dog doesn’t have physical restrictions, grab his leash and take him to the dog park where he can socialize with other dogs,” says Petryk. “It’s possible to slow deterioration by keeping him physically and mentally active, just like it is for us.”


Psychoactive drugs and dietary supplements can also help slow your dog's decline, but Beaver recommends visiting your vet for specific recommendations that can be tailored to your dog’s health and medical history.


“If, for instance, your dog also has a heart problem, the medications he takes for that is going to factor into any medications prescribed for cognitive decline,” says Beaver. “Vets and owners need to work together to establish a plan.”


Regular Check-ups


“As your dog gets older he should be having twice yearly check-ups. That way they can help differentiate between normal aging and what's pathological or wrong,” says Petryk.


She suggests going into the vet with a list of questions and observations—things that you notice when you’re at home. If changes happen gradually, it’s easy to overlook them, says Petryk.


“People can be blind to the changes in their pets because they’ve happened slowly,” she says. “They may not notice things and it may be too late to fix them.”