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Most dogs, are generally considered to be “senior” or “mature” from the age of 7 years old (of course, this is dependent on their breed or size). And, with the progression of years comes the typical side effects of aging - just like with us humans! Some dogs may experience joint stiffness or arthritis, their eyesight or hearing may deteriorate, and the length they choose to sleep, and rest may grow longer.
Some dogs, as they grow older, may even start to show signs of diminished cognitive functioning and ability too. Around 23% of dogs between the ages of 12-14, and up to 41% of dogs 14 years +, experience a decline in their cognitive capability as they move into the latter chapters of their life.
The condition is called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or CCD. Some people also refer to the condition as “doggy dementia”, although it is completely different to what happens in humans.
If your pup normally greets you at the door, bringing you toys to play with, or insisting on being petted, but has suddenly stopped, then these may be the first signs of CCD. Other symptoms of CCD in dogs include:
If you notice any of the symptoms of CCD in your dog, make sure to have them assessed by their veterinarian as soon as possible. But remember, there is no need for complete alarm – CCD in dogs is manageable and can be supported. If your dog has CCD, you can help them via:
When a dog is displaying signs of CCD, it’s worth remembering that it’s the condition that’s altering their behavior – they still love you just as they’ve always done. They have no idea they’re causing you distress, worry, or even annoyance. They just need some extra tender love, patience, and care from you now CCD is present. Never get cross at a dog with CCD – they’re already a little confused. Scolding them won’t help, but praise when they do get things right will.
It’s never too early to start supporting your dog’s brain health and function, which in turn will help prevent CCD in dogs from developing as they mature. So, what can you do as a responsible pet parent when it comes to the preservation of your dog’s brain and cognitive abilities?
Toys that are interactive can help your dog’s brain stay stimulated and engaged even when playtime, socializing and walkies are over.
Try puzzle games, like hide & seek, where your pooch has to work out how to find and release stuffed toys or treats from specially designed holders. Alternatively, you can hide a treat or food paste (like peanut butter!) in a sturdy toy where they have to dig at it to get the food!
Get creative or research online on how to challenge your dog’s mental capabilities using toys and treats as incentives!
That’s right – there are specific nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that fuel the brain and keep it properly nourished… Look for a brain support supplement that contains ingredients like Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil, Gingko Biloba and Vitamin C as these ingredients can all promote your dog’s brain functioning and health.
Playing and interacting with your dog is great for stimulating their body and mind. A round of Tug-O-War, belly rubs, and petting, sweet-talking and positive walks will keep your dog engaged, calm and help remind them they are loved and safe which is important for all dog’s health and wellbeing, not just those experiencing CCD.
Remember, you won’t be able to ward off every age-related decline in your dog – aging is a fact of life in all animals and humans alike. But, you can preserve their youth by keeping on top of their health, fitness, and maintaining a good diet. You’ll certainly be making their older years more comfortable for both of you by doing so.