Confusion, disorientation, dogzheimers. Call it what you will, but canine dementia (known clinically as canine cognitive dysfunction) can be a serious problem.
Just like humans, dogs can suffer from many of the same symptoms:
Sleep-wake cycle disturbances
Lower threshold for aggression
Decreased activity levels
Inappropriate vocalization (howling, barking or whining)
Repetitive behaviors (pacing)
Staring at walls
Fewer social interactions
Disorientation (getting “lost” in the house)
But getting old and loopy doesn’t have to be as stressful as all that – not for dogs lucky enough to be cared for by owners willing to learn what it takes to mitigate the effects of dementia as they age.
Here’s how, in six mostly simple steps:
1. Recognize Symptoms Early
The early signs of canine cognitive dysfunction can be subtle and difficult to detect. They can even be misinterpreted as “just getting old.” However, early recognition and intervention are helpful. Owners should be on the lookout for mild versions of the symptoms listed above.
2. Pay Attention to Changes in Hearing and Vision
Sensory deficiencies, such as hearing and vision loss, can cause anxiety for some pets – and their owners. When pets lose these faculties, they can become disoriented far more easily. Simple things, like failing to hear an owner’s call, can make daily life challenging for aging pets and their owners.
But many pets with hearing deficits can be trained to recognize hand signals, and pets with limited vision can often learn their way around, as long as furniture and other objects remain in the same place.
Although there’s not much we can do about hearing loss in most cases, we have options for treating some diseases of the aging eye. Cataracts, for example, are super common and highly treatable. I personally recommend surgery for pets who have cataracts with or without dementia. But you should ask your vet if this is the best option for your dog.
3. Stick to a Strict Schedule
Adhering to a set schedule when it comes to feeding, walking, turning lights on and off, and bedtime can be excellent therapy for confused pets. It’s orienting.
4. Manage Anxiety
Most dementia dogs display some degree of stress, especially when lost in the corner of a room or if they find themselves awake and alone in the middle of the night. Managing anxiety requires owners to know what works best for their individual dog, such as soothing music, aromatherapy or a long walk.
Additionally, I also recommend crate training early on in life, which can sometimes help curtail stress-exacerbating nighttime wanderings. Although, in some cases, it could cause further stress to the animal. If the wandering is extreme, talk to your vet about whether anti-anxiety medication may also be effective.
5. Talk to Your Vet About Dementia-Specific Drugs
For severe cases of canine dementia, veterinarians will sometimes discuss the potential benefits of dementia-specific medication that seem to reverse some of these symptoms, albeit to a minor extent for most patients.
6. Look Into a Veterinary Behaviorist
The most comprehensive approach to canine cognitive dysfunction involves the assistance of a veterinary behaviorist. These specialists can often help owners dramatically re-orient their confused and stressed-out geriatric pets.
By Dr. Patty Khuly, Vetstreet.com
A Dog’s Purpose?
(from a 6-year-old).
Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa , and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.
I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.
As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker ‘s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.
The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ”I know why.”
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.
He said,”People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” The Six-year-old continued,
”Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”
Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Never pretend to be something you’re not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the good. So, love the people who treat you right. Think good thoughts for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is part of LIFE…Getting back up is LIVING…
Have a great life.
By: Ultima National Resources, LLC
How to Cure an Upset Stomach
If your dog has the symptoms of an upset stomach such as: diarrhea, vomiting, no appetite, mouth odor, burps or excessive thirst, you should not give them food for the next 12 to 24 hours. Puppies should only fast 12 hours maximum. Just like humans water may aggravate an upset stomach so just give your dog ice chips.
After the fast you may give your dog small meals of either cooked ground meat and rice or cooked chicken (skin removed) and rice. One article I read, the vet recommended chicken because it is more easily digested. Holistic vets recommend you add a tablespoon of plain yogurt. The probiotics contained in yogurt help introduce good bacteria into your dogs digestive system.
Other recommendations for natural cures on how to cure upset stomach are mint tea (small dogs one mug/day large dogs/3 mugs per day) or Ginger Root. You can get it in capsule form at the health food store or you could also make the tea. If your dog eats grass he/she may be curing themselves because grass will help reduce nausea as well as soothe the stomach.
When your dog is able to drink water again, consider adding some Gatorade to their water to restore their electrolyte balance. Being ill causes dogs electrolytes to get out of balance (same goes for humans).
If after a day or so your dog seems better, gradually phase them back into their regular diet. If your dog still does not seem right, take him/her to the vet. The symptoms could indicate a more serious problem than just an upset stomach.
To prevent further episodes of upset stomach you might want to consider a digestive supplement for your pet. Native Remedies offers PetAlive Digestive Support to maintain a healthy digestive system. The capsule can be opened and mixed in with your pet’s food. PetAlive Digestive Support in addition to helping your pet’s digestive system function better will soothe gastric mucus membranes,maintains health energy levels and general well-being and supports routine absorption of nutrition. If you want to find out more about PetAlive Digestive Support, click on the highlighted text or the banner above or below the post.
If you want to know how to tell if your dog is dehydrated which sometimes happens when they vomit, check our post Dog Dehydration on this site.
Please note you should always consult your Vet first for advice and discuss measures to help you pet.
Your cat’s mouth can tell you a lot about your furry friend’s health. Here is some information that we hope is useful.
Kittens have 26 temporary teeth, 14 upper and 12 lower. They begin falling out at about 3-4 months of age. When all the permanent teeth come in, the count is 30, 16 top teeth and 14 bottom teeth. There are 12 small incisors that are mainly used for grooming; 4 canines which are used to catch and hold prey; 10 premolars used for tearing meat and 4 molars in the back of the mouth.
A cat’s jaw is different from humans and dogs. A cat’s jaw moves only up and down making it difficult to grind food. They usually swallow kibble whole. Dry food is made in tiny pieces making it easier for the cat to handle.
Studies have shown that by the time a cat is 3 years old, 70% will have developed gum disease.
The ASPCA offers these steps to dental health for your cat.
Test your cat’s breath – an abnormally strong offensive odor indicates a problem and your cat should be seen by a veterinarian.
Pull back your cat’s lips to check teeth and gums. Teeth should be clean and have no brownish tartar. Check for any broken or loose teeth. If your cat is sneezing, it could be a sign that an upper canine tooth is fractured.
Offer your cat chew toys. They can help keep teeth and gums clean and strong.
Brush your cat’s teeth regularly.
Make sure you feed your cat a healthy diet and watch your cat’s weight.
The ASPCA advises you to be aware of the following problems:
Gingivitis can start as a dark red line at the gumline. Untreated, gums can become sore and ulcerated. Gingivitis can be a sign of FIV or an infection.
Periodontitis – If gingivitis is present and is down in the tooth socket, the teeth may become loose and an abcess may form.
Stomatitis is inflammation or redness of the mouth lining due to a foreign body, oral disease or dental
Rodent Ulcer is a slowly enlarging sore or swelling on the upper lip.
Salivary Cyst – If salivary glands or ducts become blocked, a cyst can form under the tongue.
Mouth ulcers are sometimes caused by feline respiratory or kidney disease.
It should be noted that the most common oral cancer in cats is squamous cell carcinoma that usually begins under the tongue.
If your cat has difficulty eating or refuses to eat, it’s important to take him/her for a veterinary examination.
Read more: Your Cat’s Mouth – The Pet Wiki
The prospective dog owner plans ahead for their new dog. The seasoned dog owner knows that not everything can be planned for. But it is possible to plan ahead for a very serious and common emergency – poisonous hazards for dogs.
There are many toxic foods and plants for dogs. All of the toxins that affect dogs are too numerous to mention in an article so it is best to research anything you aren’t sure about. Ask your vet or check with an animal organization like the ASPCA.
Some Inside Plants Poisonous to Dogs
Some Outside Plants Poisonous to Dogs
Human Foods That Poison Pets
Avocado: All parts are toxic to dogs
Chocolate: Contains Theobromine, a cardiac stimulant which can be fatal to dogs
Fruit Pits and Seeds: Most contain cyanide
Garlic: Contains Thiosulphate, though a small amount, so a lot would have to be ingested to be toxic. Keep in mind, it builds up in the system
Grapes: Affects a dog’s kidneys
Macadamia Nuts: Affects the nervous system
Mushrooms: Affect the nervous system, kidneys and heart
Nutmeg: Can cause seizures and central nervous system damage
Onions: Contains same toxin as garlic, though in much larger amounts
Raisins: Same as grapes
Sugar-Free Foods: These contain Xylitol, which can cause liver failure in dogs
Tomatoes, Potatoes and Rhubarb: Parts of these contain oxalates, which can be toxic to dogs
Holiday Hazards For Dogs
The holidays are a very hectic time for dogs and dog owners alike and it’s easy to miss some of the plants and foods poisonous to dogs specific to that time.
Christmas: Many of the plants used for Christmas decorating are toxic to dogs, including Holly, Mistletoe and Poinsettias. It’s best to find safe substitutes.
Easter: Lilies are highly toxic to dogs, as are Tulips.
Fourth of July: Alcohol can be toxic to dogs so during your BBQs, do keep the beer to yourself.
Halloween: We all know that chocolate is poisonous to dogs but excessive sugar from any source can be as well.
Thanksgiving: Trim that turkey well and keep the gravy for the humans. Too much fat intake, especially over a short period of time, can be toxic.
General Signs Of Poisoning
Though there can be signs that are specific to each toxin, the most common are:
Abdominal Pain (your dog may whine and his stomach will be tender to the touch)
Immediate Treatment of a Poisoned Pet
If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms or even if you just suspect he ingested something toxic, call a pet poison hot line such as the ASPCA (1-888-426-4435) or the Pet Poison Hot Line (1-800-213-6180). Your local ASPCA might also have a hot line.
If possible, have someone simultaneously call your vet or the emergency vet. They can tell you what to do immediately and prepare for your immediate arrival.
There are home remedies out there such as charcoal and sodium sulfate but it is best to get professional advice before administering these.
An Ounce Of Prevention
Clean House: The first thing to do is take an inventory of all plants in your house. Remove all plants that you know are hazards for dogs as well as those that you aren’t sure about. Also, check your cupboards for toxic foods and place them high up with the cupboard securely closed.
Keep a List and Check It Often: Keep a list of toxic foods and plants for dogs. Be sure to check back regularly with your vet and online sources for the most up-to-date information. Some good resources are the ASPCA, the FDA, and the Humane Society. Also, keep a list of a pet poison hotline, you vet’s number and an emergency vet number by the phone at all times.
A Dog-Safe Home: It can seem daunting when you consider how many food and plant items can be hazards for dogs but with a little preparation and diligence, you can have a dog-safe house, inside and out.