Dear Daisy Dog
Do dogs get Alzheimer’s disease or something like it? Peggy, my 13-year-old Boston terrier, has been hard of hearing and has had poor eyesight for some time, but recently she has been acting strange.
She no longer wants to go out, and she doesn’t respond to voice or hand commands as she once did. Sometimes she acts as though she doesn’t know me. Please help.
It’s possible that Peggy is completely deaf, and that her behavior is a consequence of her deafness and poor eyesight. But it’s more likely that she is becoming senile, as you suspect.
The medical term is canine senile cognitive dysfunction syndrome.
Affected dogs may have one or more of the following signs: they may forget lifelong habits like housetraining, appear confused or lost in the house or yard, not recognize familiar people, and not greet family members or ask to be petted.
They may also pace or wander aimlessly, bark or whine for no apparent reason, and sleep more during the day and be awake at night.
But don’t lose heart. Take Peggy to her veterinarian for a physical examination, blood work and urinalysis to rule out other diseases that might be causing her problem behavior.
If Peggy’s behavior changes are due to senile cognitive dysfunction, treatment is often surprisingly effective.
The medication Anipryl has been shown to be safe and effective for dogs with cognitive dysfunction. A prescription food called b/d, which is only available through your veterinarian, has also been shown to help improve the brain function of many dogs with cognitive dysfunction.