Keeping Your Dog Young

I love old dogs!

Did you know that dogs can suffer from dementia commonly called canine cognitive dysfunction and other mental signs of aging just like people can?  Knowing is only half of the battle, the other half is doing everything in your power to keep your dog young, mentally and physically for as long as possible!

Understanding Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Like Alzheimer’s the causes of CCD are unknown, but physical evidence shows degenerative brain lesions and plaque in the brain. Dogs suffering from this disorder usually suffer from confusion and disorientation.  They might:

  • Get lost in a familiar place like the hallway, behind a door, outside, or other places in their regular environment.
  • Lose their house training skills
  • Vocalize, cry, whine and/or bark excessively and inappropriately
  • Pace and show other signs of restlessness
  • Engage in repetitive or obsessive behaviors
  • Stare blankly
  • Seemingly forget friends and family and stop seeking attention or affection

Diagnosis

Thanks to Toonpool.com for the use of the image

There is no test for CCD.  The basis for diagnosis comes from owner observation and history as it presents in their environment.  Most vets require blood work, urinalysis, radiographs (x-rays) and other possible test prior to definitive diagnosis so as not to miss other diseases that have similar presentation.

Prevention

Prevention is the best, to keep your dog from showing any of these signs or at least to prolong your pets best physical and mental wellbeing.

Physical Exercise

Physical exercise is crucial!  Physical exercise keeps your dog’s body younger and helps stop your dog from losing muscle mass and suffering from joint pain and other problems.  Exercise is crucial to your dog’s overall health.

Exercise stimulates your dog’s heart, lungs, muscles, joints and brain!!  Even if your dog suffers from some dysplasia or pain; he can still benefit from brief bouts of exercise.  If you are unsure or if your dog has heart problems seek the advice of your vet! Even just a walk around the block or through the yard can be enough to stimulate older dog’s bodies.

Moderation is the key.  Let your dog set the pace and do not force him to go faster.  Short hikes in new environments can be good for body, mind and soul!  Do not encourage jumping or other activities that are hard on the joints of older dogs, and do not exercise in extreme heat or cold.  Older dogs are more susceptible to changes in weather.

WARM UP!  Dogs need to warm up their bodies and joints prior to exercise too, to keep them from suffering from injury.

Mental Stimulation

Training is also a critical element in helping your dog stay young.  That old adage:  You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks is one of my most hated myths!  Dogs of any age can learn and old dogs deserve to have their minds stimulated and utilized!  Teach your geriatric dog something new, or introduce the clicker and watch his mind thrive!  New tricks or even having him show you some old favorites is fun and learning helps build new pathways in the brain.  The commands don’t have to be intricate, simple things like teaching him to bark or wag his tail on command will be enjoyable.

Even going back to his obedience and being patient can be vital in giving his mind something to do!  Just be patient and cut him some slack in his old age; perfect sits and swiftness aren’t the key anymore just getting him to perform the basic tasks is the goal!

Get him involved in some mental games.  You can either play games with him or you can purchase some brain building toys like the Buster Cube ©.  Play hide and seek, hide his breakfast and let him find it, teach him to find his toys by name, or find a senior agility class in your area.   Some organizations are even lowering jumps to allow older dogs to still enjoy the competition of agility!

Provide Him with Good Nutrition

Good nutrition is essential for brain usage and development.  What is good nutrition?

Good nutrition should be defined by your vet with your help!  Most dogs over 8 should be on a senior dog food.  Senior foods are typically easier on the kidneys of older dogs and usually have things like less protein and more joint supplements like glucosamine and chondriotin and essential fatty acids.

Only YOU and YOUR VET know what is best for your dog.  My dogs are different and lead different lifestyles than most people’s dogs, and some people’s dogs are competing in obedience, agility and other sports long after their dogs are 8.  Let your vet give you the information you need to make the right decision for your best friend.

What if Your Dog is Already Showing Signs?

Adding exercise and mental stimulation may still help.  Just understand your older dog’s limitations, and lower your expectations for rapid learning.

There are prescription medications that can help reduce the symptoms of CCD, talk to your vet!  And have fun keeping your dog young and aging with grace!

 

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Comments

  1. doglover says:

    Love your dogs till death do you part. Very important to learn about handling old dogs.

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  2. Diana Navon says:

    My elderly dogs were able to learn new tricks, notabley how to read hand signals when they became deaf.

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  3. Eileen says:

    I’m wondering if Canine Cognitive Dysfunction is similar to Alzheimer’s and if pharmaceutical grade high dosage fish oil can help senior dogs who have other age related syndromes?

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    mimi f Reply:

    I have developed medical products amn I have two older rescue dogs, a spaniel and an American Bull dog. They were beginning to show serious weight,aging, arthritic, plus tooth and gum problems. One has been treated for heart and seizure problems. ( Which caused other problems.)It has been proven that pets are suffering the same problems and diseases as humans. I do not think that fish oil alone will give you the results you are looking for. Also a high dosage fish oil may cause harm
    I changed their diet to eliminate medicine and commercial dog foods, grains and meat by products. I put them on a diet that includes vegetables, beef, eggs and sweet potato and added two tablespoons each per day of an anti-oxidant food supplement which has natural anti-inflammatory properties. The cost is less than I was spending on premium pet food. The preparation is simple.The positive change in their mobility and gums was visible after two meals. They have been on this diet for two months. They love it. More important is that they are no longer bloated, their coats gleam and they race around like puppies. Per the DVM their physical problems have disappeared. I will be glad to share this information. with you

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    Charlotte Mecum Reply:

    I would very much appreciate having more information about the diet you changed your dogs to. I can’t imagine losing my sweet Doogan. If something as simple as changing his diet can make him healthier and possibly free of some physical problems, I will gladly do it.

    Thank you.

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    Billie St. Pierre Reply:

    Mimi, my Shih Tzu is only 3 years old and not expressing any cognitive signs. But I would love to hear about your supplement and start it early in order to hopefully delay any problems.

    I’d love for you to give me some info and share what you can.

    Thanks loads,
    Billie

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    B Reply:

    Mimi

    Could you please let me know how to get in touch with you to leran from your experience with home-prepared food? My 3 yrs old mix never quite fancied commercial food (including 6* brands like Orijen) and I always had to feed him one part kibble, one part home-made, so lately I gave up on it completely, feeding him raw meat (mostly chicken), fish, rice & vegetables, eggs & olive oil, plus supplements. His bowl is for once wiped out after a meal and he seems to be thriving on this diet. It’s not that complicated to prepare it and, surprisingly, it’s not that expensive.

    Thanks!

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    Darlene Bogumil Reply:

    I would like to have your recipe you are giving your dogs plus the anti-inflammatory & anti-oxidant. Thanks

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    Janet Holland Reply:

    Hi

    Would love to know the anti oxidant food supplement?

    Thanks Janet

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    Robert Reply:

    Hi, can you share that recipe with me in detail.

    Thank you so much.

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    Leonie Reply:

    Plse share your imfo.Their diet.Thank you

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    Michele Flanagan Reply:

    Hi, I too cook for my elderly Bichon Frise fresh food, spaghetti with vegetables and a little bit of meat (rabbit or mackerel). I would be very interested in the ‘anti-oxidant food supplement which has natural anti-inflammatory properties’- please could you let me know what you are using?

    Thank you so much & Best Wishes

    PS: would like to highly recommend the ‘Five Leaf Pet Pharmacy’,the ‘Dog Greens’ (www.FiveLeafPetPharmacy.com)
    generally

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    Nancy Reply:

    I now have five dogs after taking in my daughter’s two after her death. All except one are rescues. Our “pack”, as we call them, are all smallish females with one big boy (and does he love his “girls”!!). They range in age from 1 year to 11 years old. We give them high quality kibble and a mixture of rice, ground turkey and carrots or cooked checken with rice. They are all quite healthy but I still would like your recipe. I’m always looking for any good hints.

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    Nancy Reply:

    Please, please share your recipe with me and my two adorable 7 yr. old rescue dogs. I love them so much and can’t bear the thot of their growing old without my doing EVERYTHING I can to help them have a healthy, happy life. I can’t get them interested in veggies of any kind, or rice either for that matter. Is there some way to change this? Thanks for any help.

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    Leana Nel Reply:

    Dear Mimi, could you please allow me to have the diet you are referring to? Sincere thanks!

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    Dorothy Arnold Reply:

    Hi Mimi,

    I would like your recipe and the supplements you are giving your dog. I have a dog that does not like the commercial food and I have trouble getting her to eat. She is only 2 yrs old and has dysplasia. I would really apprecite any information you can give me and thank you for putting the information on this web site for many of us to read.

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    Patricia Wilson Reply:

    I would appreciate getting a copy of the diet you are referring to.
    I have a Chihuahua/Jack Russell cross that is 20 years old – hard to believe, but it is true. She will be 21 in October.
    Over the last 6 months and she has become a very finicky eater and it has been hard trying to find something that she realy likes to eat that is good for her. She has been with us a long time and our family love her dearly, even though she can be a bit cranky sometimes.

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    Maria Reply:

    Hi Mimi,

    I have two rescue dogs. They are both around 6 years old and just lovely. I prepare food for them every other week and have noticed they really like fish. I mix fish or chicken or beef with their normal dog kibble but was never sure if this home made food is actually good for them. This is why I only give it to them every other week. They do love it but that doesn’t make it healthy. I would really like to get a copy of your recipe and include this in their diet.

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    Cathy Reply:

    Mimi,
    I have two chocolate labs 6 & 4 as well as my mystery dog an 11 year old Papillon mix. Would you be so kind as to share your full diet plan as well as the antidioxidant supplements you’re using with me. I’m also curious if anyone has used anything like this with cats. I have one male indoor cat whose weight I have a hard time controlling. He keeps getting bigger. Thanks for your help!

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  4. SK says:

    My sweet Sheltie definitely had this. She would get “lost” in a corner, and wouldn’t know how to find her way out. I called it “doggy dementia.”

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  5. Lee Bangert says:

    My two precioius Lhasa Apsos, at age 14, had this God-awful disease and both had to be put to sleep. They didn’t know where they were, whenever they had to pee they did it……I bought diapers for them and used to keep them in the diapers plus papers on the floor but then, finally, it got to the stage where they were so bad off, they had to be put to sleep. My heart is still crying for them, Sam and Tess, and as I type this, I can’t stop crying; this all happened in the 90’s and it’s like it happened yesterday. I wrote an obit for them and put it into the local newspaper. A very sad time. I’ve had dogs since 1986 and they are family even in death. I now have an American Foxhound, abandoned, and is now 5 years old. Three years ago, I adopted a blind Australian Cattle Dog, Max, and they get along like unbelievable. Again, they’re family and I love them to pieces.

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  6. pat mccauley says:

    Our old bouvier showed this at age 11, she started wandering and got lost and wandered into our neighbors kitchen, we finally found out that she had these spells only after we gave her advantage flea products. After a good bath they disappeared, never returned and she lived to the ripe old age of 13. Boy do I miss her.

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  7. Jude LeMoine says:

    My Bull/Boxer cross is 13 now and has arthritis in many joints. On warm days though he still likes to go for a stroll . He stops frequently either to rest or just enjoy the smells. When I’m as old as he is I can only hope my caregivers will have the same patience and compassion that he has taught me!

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  8. Molly says:

    My heart breaks for those of you who have lost a beloved pet. The mere thought of it makes me cry. I just had to tell you all just how wonderful I think you are. The love and compassion you show your animals touches me deeply. You are increible people and though I don’t personally know you…you have stolen my heart because if the love in the words you have written. It is wonderful to know in this world so full of bad that there really is awesome folks like all of you. I can say with every fiber of my being I LOVE YOU ALL. Dear GOD, Please bless these precious people and thier beloved pets now and always.
    Molly

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    Minette Reply:

    Thank you for your kind words!! 🙂 God bless you too!

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  9. Sylvia says:

    I will do anything to have my four babies live a longer and healthier life. They are 11-10-10-6. Please share your receipe on what you feed them and anything else that would help my babies. Thank you so much and may God bless you for sharing.

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  10. Dimple Stewart says:

    I would be very much appreciate it if you would share your recipe for the homemade dog food. I make my dogs food now using brown rice, cooked chicken or beef and bag of frozen mixed vegetables. It sounds like you have a healthier recipe and I would very much like to prepare it for my two precious dogs! Thank you!

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  11. Leana Nel says:

    I have four German Shepherds and they are my life. I live in Johannesburg, South Africa and we are having a very cold winter this year. They all sleep in my bedroom and Lupis (10) now developed kennel cough. The vet put him on anti-biotics yesterday and I can see that he is not feeling well. Please do share the diet with me as well, as well as anything else that can help my best friends! Bless all you pet lovers out there!

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  12. karen says:

    Mimi F: Everyone on this website has asked for your magical formula and so far, you haven’t responded to some very heartfelt requests. What gives?

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  13. Stephanie Franzen says:

    Please everyone, take your dogs on walks! It’s so beneficial for them and can be relaxing for you too. So many people neglect their animals in this way and it really is neglect. Take your dog on a walk at least 3 times a week. We take our sweet girl out every single day and she is 11 years old and in perfect health.

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