Condition it’s a true quality of life issue for cats and dogs it’s called cognitive dysfunction so what is cognitive dysfunction in dogs and cats simply put it’s a loss of mental and socialfunction similar to that seen in Alzheimer’s disease in humans now before you start to panic don’t cognitive dysfunction is a serious condition and it can be absolutely tragic for pets but early diagnosis intervention and treatment can have amazing results and you the person who cares for and loves.
Your pet can play a major helpful role in fact in one way cognitive dysfunction is an outcome of the enhanced veterinary care with which you’ve provided your pets modern excellent care has allowed
dogs and cats to live much longer than was true in the past so we all now have to manage the reality that like
ourselves our pets are going to spend a much longer part of their life in old age many of you will already be familiar with treatments and interventions that address conditions that commonly appear as pets age such as cancer and heart disease and kidney disease and many of you have likely already begun to address joint disease and the onset of arthritis using treatment programs involving diets supplements anti-inflammatories and hopefully exercise we now need to think
about taking the same interventional approach to address the most important organ in your pets body your pets brain as is true with humans with increasing chronological age the pets brain also
angels this may mean that dogs and cats don’t learn as quickly it may mean they don’t remember as well or have as much mental or behavioral flexibility as they did when they were young however
if we can address these changes early before or as they begin to happen the research on dogs humans and mice all
suggests that we can protect and perhaps even enhance cognitive function so how old does your dog or cat have to be before they can be considered old or aging or at risk for cognitive dysfunction
generally speaking dogs enter old age at about eight years of age and cats do so at about ten years of age there’s a lot of difference for different breeds and there’s a lot of variation among individuals but it’s important to know that as aging begins to occur the damage to brain cells that leads to cognitive
dysfunction can and will start by understanding what happens to the aging brain cells you can help your aging dogs and cats to function well brain cells need to stay plump and healthy and talking to other brain cells with time
some damage normally occurs and we usually repair that damage as we go on with increasing age the repair process slows and we don’t repair these cells as well as we used to when we were young so we begin to see chemicals called free
radicals and reactive oxygen species begin to become common and accumulate these compounds affect how brain cells go about their normal functions and talk to each other free radicals and reactive oxygen species of clear to play roles in situations like cancer and stroke where cells stop working the way they should when these toxic substances begin to accumulate in brain cells they contribute to the loss of function in these brain cells and the loss of ability to repair that damage so with time the cells no longer talk to each other they no longer respond to the neurochemical signals and they begin to shrink and they don’t communicate anymore the result of this process is what contributes to the signs seen in cognitive dysfunction fortunately antioxidants can help protect against free radicals and these reactant oxygen species that accumulate with age we produce antioxidants
naturally and get others routinely from our diets but with age we don’t produce them as well as we used to either and we can benefit from external sources of antioxidants when we have enough antioxidants we can usually combat protect against and often neutralize the awful and damaging effects of free .
Radicals and reactive oxygen species that begin to cause cell death unfortunately the brain is much more sensitive to assault by free radicals and reactive oxygen species than is any other organ in your body that means the brain is more susceptible to brain cell damage the delicate receptors that send signals to the parts of your brain and the machinery that allows these chemical signals to be created and understood becomes damaged with time once that happens the brain doesn’t function as it should and the result is a serious set of distressing behavioral changes so
what does this mean for those of us who love our aging cats and dogs well at first owners will see subtle changes in the behavior of their dogs and cats a formally confident dog or cat may withdraw or start to be afraid of situations or things that were never a concern before the dog or cat may seem confused or disoriented changes in how
social or friendly the pet seems are often common and the dog or cat may seem uncertain about how to interact even with people or cats or dogs they’ve known and loved their entire lives disturbed sleep may be one of the first changes clients will see changes in sleep schedules may be noted and the dogs will bark when they wake up and the cats may hell when they awaken at a
typical times at night even the best trained and most compliant dog or cat may have accidents involving elimination as if they were caught short or forgot where the door or the litter box was all of
these changes are very scary for the clients but they are tremendously distressing for the dogs and cats themselves that distress will actually contribute to a worsening of the signs of cognitive dysfunction because pets worry and they withdraw more so is this an end-of-life decision for your dog or cat fortunately now the answer is an unambiguous absolutely not we are past the time when euthanizing an animal was the humane response to aging we used to say the animal had had a good
life now we can say we’ll take that good
life and continue to ensure that it’s good and rich as our pets move into the new phase of their shared relationship with us there’s a very very special grace to aging animals and now veterinarians have a series of tools that can help owners to protect and enhance the mental abilities of aging
pets accordingly at the first sign of any change in your pets behavior you should talk to your vet in fact you should start talking to your vet about brain aging before there are obvious
behavioral changes as your dogs approach eight years and as your cats approach 10 years please consult them even if there are no changes you may even want to consult them earlier in middle age because early intervention is most beneficial one of the first steps in preventing and treating cognitive dysfunction is to increase the pet’s
intake of antioxidants through nutrient based intervention to stave off the damage being done by the free radicals and the reactive oxygen species these nutrient based intervene can be extremely effective in protecting brain function some of the new .
Generation of nutrient based therapies usually called nutraceuticals combine very sophisticated kinds of antioxidants with natural compounds involved in making and maintaining brain cells and their neuro chemicals the chemical signals in the brain which will help to enhance and even repair the damaged nerve cells research shows that the earlier in the aging process that you use these products and foods especially if they’re used as part of a program to provide good physical and most importantly mental or cognitive exercise and stimulation for your dog and cat the more promising the outcome with continued neuroprotection and cognitive enhancement less damage is caused and less distress results for the pets in fact dogs and cats can remain mentally .
Healthy as long as they are able to remain physically healthy and that will give them many many more years of quality life with the people they love and who love them we all slow down with age but our pets can still enjoy their golden years and live happy and full lives I hope this information helps you to understand and help your aging pet
Thank you so very much for listening and for thinking about the special relationships that we have with these
Loyal and loving companions you .
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