Forget Me (Not)
Canine Dementia and CBS4 Denver
By Robert Forto, PhD
Starting Friday (May 7, 2010) on the 10 PM newscast on the CBS affiliate (http://www.cbs4denver.com) in Denver, CO they are starting something new. They are airing a story, specifically a dog story about the little known, and very frightening illness: canine dementia and utilizing the power of social media to not only garner interest but to educate the public as well. I was honored to be the first person to write about the story before it aired and then blog, tweet and Facebook about it to let people know what it is all about. It was honor and a great pleasure!
Not a lot is known about canine dementia. Think about it, Alzheimer’s in humans is a relatively new phenomena. Commonly known as “old dog disease” and more specifically as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) it causes disorientation, memory loss, confusion and personality changes, all very similar to the human disease as well.
Unfortunately I know all too well the symptoms of CDS. Our veterinarian Dr. Holly Cogswell of Aurora Animal Hospital, just recently diagnosed my best friend and confidant, Ineka with this debilitating disease. Many of you who read my blog know all about Ineka. He was once my lead dog and who we affectionately called “the Sargent” in the way he would boss the younger dogs around in our sled dog kennel. Now it saddens me everyday to see my pal nearing the end and soon to cross the Rainbow Bridge. My family and I decided that as long as Ineka has a good quality of life we will let him live out his days comfortable and we wont let him suffer.
As the story tells on CBS4 there are drugs, such as Anipryl, you can give dogs with CDS and diet can help too, but often it is only after you recognize the symptoms do you realize what this disease is all about. What should you watch out for in your aging pet:
Stops responding to his name
Forgets familiar tricks or simple commands like sit and down
May no longer remember routines
Gets stuck in corners, under furniture or behind furniture
Engages in repetitive and compulsive disorders
Pace or wanders aimlessly
Compulsively walks in circles around a table or from room to room
Appears lost or confused
Sleep less at night and wander around instead of sleeping
Dogs with CDS sometimes forget house training and they may have “accidents” indoors even soon after being outside. They may stop “asking” to go outside and they may seem to forget the reason for going outdoors.
In severe cases your dog may become aggressive and may bite or bark for no apparent reason. They way wander out of the yard that they have known the boundaries of for years, often becoming lost and confused.
Sadly, as I research and write this article I am made painfully aware that my buddy, Ineka has almost all of these symptoms. It is heartbreaking to see the dog you love become confused and disoriented. I am calling my veterinarian today and starting Ineka on a treatment plan. Let’s at least make him comfortable during his last days.
For more information please visit:http://www.bellaonline.org/articles/art25417.asp
If you have any further questions please contact your veterinarian or even share your stories with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and in the coming weeks we will air an episode on the Dog Doctor Radio Show about this disease, no pet owner is ready to face.
Dr. Robert Forto is the training director of Denver Dog Works and the host of a weekly radio program, The Dog Doctor Radio Show, heard weekly at 9:30 am in the Rocky Mountain West or downloaded any time through iTunes. Dr. Forto can be reached through his website at http://www.denverdogworks.com