As pets age, there are a growing number of cats and dogs that are suffering from dementia and veterinarians are warning that a pet’s sedentary lifestyle and poor diet can be to blame. There are an increasing number of cats and dogs suffering from this progressing disease, and many pets are dying of it.
The problems that animals face can be a direct result of lifestyle choices made by not only the pet but primarily the pet owners. A lack of physical activity and a diet of “cheap” pet food plays a significant role in the increasing number of dementia cases in cats and dogs.
“We see an increase in pet obesity,” says Professor Dr. Holger Volk, a leading veterinary scientist at the Royal Veterinary College, “Just as we see health problems among people who are less active so we see the same problems with their pets eating more and getting less exercise and this may lead to an increase in dementia.” With the growing issues, it may be difficult for pet owners to detect the decline of their beloved pet’s health.
How can you detect dementia in your loyal companion?
Some signs include:
- Getting “stuck” behind furniture
- Walking in circles
- Forgetting certain activities, such as eating or forgetting that they have already greeted you
- Attempting to go in a door the wrong way
- Getting lost or struggling to find their way around
- Increased amount of sleep during a 24-hour period
- Disinterest in surroundings
- Decreased purposeful activity
- Loss of knowledge, including daily activities such as housebreaking
- Increased amounts of anxiety shown by apprehension, panting, moaning or excessive shivering
Other signs of dementia in pets include failure to respond to commands and difficulty hearing, inability to recognize familiar people, and difficulty navigating the environment.
There are three main contributors to the changes in an aging brain that cause a gradual impairment in cognitive functioning: oxidative stress from free radical damage, the formation of lesions on the brain, and alterations in oxygen and energy availability.
The brain is thought to be more sensitive to the effects of oxidation than other tissues of the body. The damage to your dog’s brain caused by oxidative stress can cause a decrease in cognition as well as degenerative nerve disease similar to, for example, Alzheimer’s disease in humans.
It is critical to monitor changes within your pet, as well as get the proper attention from an experienced vet. Dementia can accelerate at differing rates and cause different amounts of impairment and discomfort to your beloved pets. If you see any of the warning signs or sense something is out of place, it is important to contact The Animal Hospital of Sussex County and seek immediate attention for your pet.