So Sydney, what happened to the sun?! It’s been raining almost non stop for a week and I’m sick of it! This week in clinic I have been seeing more and more older animals, who really don’t seem to cope so well in the cold. Most of these animals have been coming in for stiff joints and the like, but I have been seeing more and more animals who have been suffering from brain ageing and the behavioural consequences of this. This is distressing both for them and also their owners/ parents / human housemates.
So do you want the depressing news? As we and our furry counterparts age, our brains actually decrease in size! We also know that certain neurotransmitters start being depleted. The old saying ‘you can’t teach a old dog new tricks’ might not be right, but it definitely can be harder, especially one who is starting to suffer from cognitive decline.
We also know that this cognitive dysfunction is more common that people realise! In one study, nearly 30% of dogs over 11 and a whopping 70% of those over 15 showed signs of doggy brain ageing. Life isn’t much happier for our cats either, with some studies suggesting 35% of cats over 12 and 50% of those over 15 also showing signs.
So what can We do?
The first step to helping your older pet is getting the correct diagnosis! The signs of brain ageing follow the pnemonic DISHA. Ask yourself…
Does your pet get disorientated? Do they forget where their food bowl is? Or which door is out?
Have they stopped running to greet you at the door? Do they spend more time sleeping alone?
Has your pet stopped sleeping during the night? Instead pacing and being restless? Instead do they sleep all day?
Has your previously well trained pet started going to the toilet in the house?
Altered activity levels: have they become more or less active? Have they become more anxious?
But don’t panic, there are things we can do!
Getting the correct diagnosis is critical in these cases! Unfortunately our older pets are much more prone to getting medical problems and these may affect behaviour. For example a urinary tract infection or urinary incontinence may cause your pet to pee in the house! Seeing a veterinarian if you think your pet is suffering from this condition is essential.
Once we have a diagnosis there are lots of things we can do to improve your pet’s quality of life and restore your bond again. This usually involves a combination of medical management, pharmaceutical agents, behavioural modification and changes in diet. Here at life in four legs we aim to work with you to make your furry friends golden years the very best that they can be.
Contact us today to see how we can help!