Animal Clinic of Kalispell - November 2020


TELLING SIGNS AND AVAILABLE TREATMENTS For Cognitive Dysfunction and Dementia in Dogs


We’ve briefly discussed dementia before, but Dr. Ball recently did some deeper continuing education on that topic. Just as the risk

of dementia increases for humans as we grow older, so too does the risk for dementia as our pets age. Unfortunately, cognitive dysfunction, like dementia, is commonly misdiagnosed in older dogs. Although it’s most recognizable when a dog is 11 years old or older, the first signs of cognitive dysfunction occur between the ages of 6–8.

Now that’s a royal family!

If you’re ever at Wayfarers State Park on Flathead Lake, you might see us all walking on the trails. We’re easy to recognize as we all have matching harnesses and collars, and we’re a royal family of four Cavaliers. As purebreds, we all tend to have health issues, which is why we’re so happy to have Dr. Clark at The Animal Clinic of Kalispell. Dr. Clark and his staff know us really well and give us the royal treatment.

Signs to Look For

There are several signs that indicate your dog might be suffering from cognitive dysfunction. Here are some indicators to look for: a change in your dog’s sleeping habits, an increase in pacing or doing abnormal activities, an increase in how often they get lost, and any changes in their overall behavior. If a dog that was previously housetrained is now suddenly having accidents, and their urinalysis comes back normal, that’s a big sign too. Anxiety is also a big indicator. Dogs that have been anxious their whole life but then become increasingly anxious, or dogs that experience a sudden spike of anxiety when they have never shown signs of stress before, may be showing signs of a cognitive dysfunction.

I have pancreatitis, which means my body can’t digest food. We have to wait 20 minutes for each meal while the enzymes do that for me. It’s quite tedious, really. Daisy has the loudest heart murmur Dr. Clark has ever heard. Every time he listens to it, he says, “Wow!” Danny is allergic to everything. He gets very itchy and needs lots of medication. I get jealous when Mom gives him ointment and rubs his ears. Dr. Clark has figured out just the right formula of food and meds for Danny, which is good because itching isn’t princely behavior. Gracie is the healthiest of us all, although since she lost all her teeth at the puppy mill, she has to eat soft food and treats. Mom says, “I would love to find a doctor for myself that’s as good as Dr. Clark is for our dogs.” It’s true, he takes very good care of us and treats us like the royalty we are. Now that we’re a noble four-dog family, Sadie has become famous for her dog treats at our family’s bakery Lake Baked in Bigfork. Our favorites are the Sadie’s Cheesy Biscuits which are delicious! (Check out her recipe on Page 2!) I am grateful my family decided to adopt rescued dogs. I love my family so much — the humans and Cavaliers alike. I am a lucky princess indeed!

Treatment Options

While treatments will not necessarily prevent cognitive dysfunction completely, there are treatments available that will help manage and slow its progress. One of the more common treatment options for your four-legged friend is medication, but there are other options too. Just as we do puzzles on our phones to keep our brain functioning well, there are puzzle toys that our dogs can use to help keep their brains as active as possible. When paired with medical management, the symptoms and impact of a cognitive dysfunction can be reduced fairly significantly. Studies have shown that diet, too, can impact your pet’s cognitive abilities. Specifically, medium chain triglycerides in your dog’s diet will benefit their cognitive health. And there are some other nutritional supplements that could potentially slow the progression of cognitive disorders.

If you’ve noticed any of the telling signs above in your dog and want to learn more about cognitive dysfunction and how to prevent it, call the Animal Clinic of Kalispell today.



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