Senility or dementia. Yes, dogs become senile with age, too. We call this "cognitive dysfunction" in veterinary medicine.
As a housecall veterinarian, I see this all the time in my aging patients. I want you to be able to recognize these symptoms in your dog. Why? Because help is available! Just like in people, there are medications and supplements to help your aging pet.
If you are seeing two or more of these symptoms, you should consult with your veterinarian to see if you need a prescription medication.
You can also treat your dog holistically with supplementation to help preserve brain function and health. You can actually slow the mental decline with these 7 tips:
1. A nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate, bioavailable diet. Give them a variety of fresh food suitable for carnivores. The starches and carbohydrates in commercial kibble are not an ideal energy source for your dog. Try some of the commercially prepared species-appropriate diets such as The Honest Kitchen, Primal, Stella & Chewy's, Sojo and many more. Click here to purchase.
2. Omega 3 fatty acids. These are found in fish oils, but not all fish oil is created equal and many oils do not have adequate amounts to promote brain health. Grizzly salmon is among one of the best oils for brain health and they have the NASC approval. Click here to purchase.
3. Medium Chain Triglycerides. MCTs improve brain energy metabolism and decrease the amyloid protein buildup that results in brain lesions in older pets. Coconut oil is a rich source of MCTs. An appropriate amount is 1/4 teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight. Do not microwave coconut oil as it will destroy the beneficial ingredients.
4. Antioxidants. Antioxidants are some vitamins, minerals, enzymes or other chemical compounds that can stop the process of oxidation at the cell level and help fight aging changes. The best sources of antioxidants from natural foods include fresh fruits (e.g. berries - blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, wolfberries; pomegranates; dark red grapes), vegetables (e.g. dark green leafy vegetables; broccoli; beets; green beans; peas; carrots), and whole grains. Click here to purchase.
5. Essential oils. Either direct application or diffusion are great ways to deliver some anti-aging benefits. AnimalEO makes an essential oil called Boost in a Bottle that is an excellent all encompassing oil that every pet can benefit from. It has a blend of several different essential oils in it benefiting almost every body system. Click here to purchase.
6. Regular exercise. Keep your pet's body and mind active and go for walks or places your dog can socialize with other pets and people.
7. Play and enrichment. Make sure to keep playing with your pet. Even if it is for short bursts of energy. Use mental stimulation toys, such as food puzzles or treat release toys, to keep their mind active.
If your pet is senior-aged (7 in large dogs, 10 in small dogs) start supplementing now! What are you waiting for? Let's start helping them before the symptoms appear, because our pets are our family.
Debbie Reynolds, DVM