As a society our knowledge of dogs and their care is continuously improving, which means our canine companions are living longer than ever before. While this is great news, it also means we are seeing more cases of diseases typically associated with older age.
As people age they are likely to become a little more forgetful, and perhaps not as ‘sharp’ as in their youth. This can be perfectly normal, but we know that in some people this is severe and associated with disease – in people, we call this dementia.
Sadly, our dogs can get a very similar problem, which is called ‘cognitive dysfunction syndrome’ (CDS). CDS can affect all breeds of dog, and typically is seen in dogs over 8-10 years old. Very much like our human Alzheimer’s CDS is diagnosed by behavioural changes, as degeneration in the brain leads to loss of learned behaviours and changes in sociability.
CDS is much more common than you might think – a study showed that 28% of dogs aged 11-12 years old, and 68% of dogs aged 15-16, showed one or more signs of CDS.
As CDS is degenerative, sadly affected dogs are likely to worsen with time, which is known as cognitive decline.