Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease is found in animals, just as it is in humans, especially when pets are of advanced age. The disease occurs because the brains of dogs and cats undergo changes during the aging process, and these transformations can cause memory loss and difficulty understanding.
In general, the aging process of dogs begins around the age of seven. However, it is more common to find animals with dementia from the age of 12 years. Older animals may also have other problems such as vision, hearing loss, low energy, and sleep problems.
But what exactly is Alzheimer’s disease in animals, what are the symptoms of this disease and how can you prevent your pet from suffering from this disease?
What is Alzheimer’s disease in animals?
Also known as cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS), Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease of unknown cause that causes significant changes in cognitive abilities in the nervous tissue of animals. “Because this tissue is very sensitive to free radicals, they are responsible for the aging and death of neurons in areas of the brain responsible for carrying out important tasks. Since the brain cannot create new neurons to replace those that have been damaged, there is no way to avoid getting dressed,” Says veterinarian Livia Romero, of the Vet Quality Center in Sao Paulo.
The specialist explains that Alzheimer’s disease, basically, acts as a degenerative process of the animal’s nervous system, which can occur slowly and gradually at first, become more rapid over time and depends on genetic factors and the health conditions of the pet. Because it is a disease that comes with age, pet teachers need to take their pets for a clinical and laboratory evaluation to identify the problem.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in dogs and cats
Signs of Alzheimer’s disease can vary in animals. “Depending on each case, animals may exhibit classic symptoms or just one of these symptoms. Therefore, it is extremely important for teachers to be aware of daily changes in pet behavior, especially when they are of advanced age,” says Livia Romero.
The vet warns that an animal suddenly becoming disoriented could be one of the first symptoms of illness. According to her, a good example is when an animal starts wandering around the house and ends up getting stuck in everything, as if the place is completely alien. In addition, the pet may become blocked and unable to move, because confusion can appear in stillness and staring at a certain place.
Decreased ability to react
An animal with Alzheimer’s disease can also display more aggressive behaviors when the pet is in front of other animals or humans, as it may also happen that the pet does not recognize its owner. Livia Romero explains, “This aggressiveness is the way an animal must defend itself, even where its scent prevails. Apathy can also arise in a lack of interest in receiving affection or playing.”
The vet comments that many teachers consider the difficulty of sleeping for an elderly pet a situation without much seriousness, resulting in a failure to investigate where the problem is, which can be very detrimental to the four-legged friend.
Urination and defecation problems in the right place
Although it is usual for older animals to spend themselves in inappropriate places, it is still the duty of the owner to be vigilant. Livia Romero explains that what distinguishes an elderly pet with Alzheimer’s disease is the way it urinates and defecates. “Old dogs tend to urinate in inappropriate places because they are unable to hold their urine for long. Animals with this disease, on the other hand, do not feel the need to urinate or defecate, because the brain can no longer urinate to absorb such information.” Pets with Alzheimer’s disease can relieve themselves while lying down, sleeping or playing,” says the specialist.
What do you do in these situations?
According to Livia Romeiro, the first thing to do when you suspect your pet is sick is to take it to a veterinary clinic and find a veterinary neurologist. “With the right professional, the pet will undergo clinical evaluation and laboratory testing to eliminate other types of problems and have greater accuracy in the diagnosis. Certain medications can be prescribed to improve the impulse transmission of neurons,” directs Livia Romero.
*With information from Vet Quality Consultancy Communication