Dogs are our faithful companions and we support them in any way we can, whether that be with a holistic approach to health that includes dog wellness plans or medical solutions with the help of pet insurance for dogs. Are Dementia and Alzheimer’s issues that we need to consider for our aging canine friends?
As dogs age, their behavior can change, and they can become confused. This leaves many pet owners wondering if dogs suffer cognitively as they age. So, what does happen to dogs as they get older, and is there such a thing as doggie dementia?
How Dogs Age
The American Animal Hospital Association wants to help you best address your dog’s needs as they age. They recently reassessed how they define your dog’s stages of life, reducing the number of stages from six to five. As dogs go through five stages of life, each has its benefits and its challenges.
The Puppy Stage
Ah, the sweet puppies. Dogs are puppies until their initial rapid growth stops between five and nine months. This is the cutest and most playful stage but also very challenging, from toilet training to behavior training to hiding all your shoes. But your beautiful, curious, bright-eyed boy is worth all the extra effort.
Dog owners ensure that their wee puppy has all the necessary shots at this stage and keeps up with routine pet wellness care such as initial vaccines and grooming appointments. More importantly, they provide a solid basis for training and future training. At this stage, the dog will need to be neutered—the male at around six months and the female before her first heat around five-six months old.
Your beautiful pup is full of energy and ready to take on the world in his youthful years of 1+ . He will be in this maturation stage until about three or four years old. At his peak of energy and curiosity, he will still be a handful behavior-wise and may, during this time, develop common issues including behavioral problems, phobias, allergies or injuries.
Continue to build on his training as a puppy with adult dog training and covering routine care with a pet insurance plan or pet wellness plan. He will need regular grooming, check-ups, shots, and dental cleaning/care. But his joie de vivre will be an inspiration for your own and, as he settles in, he will become an excellent companion.
Consult your veterinarian if your dog begins to develop phobias, or allergies in this early stage.
Your dog is your best friend and your most faithful companion through this stage. You are probably in a great rhythm and settled routines and practicing preventative care such as tick and flea medications and keeping up to date with routine vaccinations. He will be in this stage until about the last quarter of his life.
Regular check-ups, blood work, grooming, shots, and dental care are still required throughout this stage. Barring anything unforeseen, though, your dog should be healthy and happy.
As your dog enters the last quarter of his life, he will slow down. Because we are helping our dogs live longer, they are showing signs of various age-related diseases like arthritis, impaired vision, and loss of hearing. For example, he will need a little help here and there, like jumping up into the car or visual cues and extra caution. He will still want to go for walks, but he might have more and more trouble keeping up.
In this stage, on top of the regular care, visits to the vet will begin to increase. He may need medications and other treatments to stay on top of living comfortably.
End of Life
As your dog nears the end of life, he might experience extreme weight loss, incontinence, confusion, and lack of energy. You will focus on making him as comfortable as possible at this stage in his life. He may need many visits to the vet to care for ailments that emerge at the end of life. You should consult with your veterinarian about how to care best for your pet.
Can Dogs Get Dementia and Alzheimer’s?
He’s your best friend, and he’s getting older. Lately, he has seemed confused, barking for no reason, and gets upset when you leave. It’s not like him. It makes you wonder. Is he starting to suffer cognitively? Could he have dementia?
The answer is yes. Similar to humans, older dogs are susceptible to developing age-related illnesses like alzheimers and dementia which progresses similarly to the way it does in humans. If a dog is going to suffer from canine alzheimers or dementia, symptoms typically start to present themselves around the age of 9.
By the time your dog reaches 14 years old, he has a 40% chance of developing canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) also known as “dog dementia”.
Discovered over twenty years ago, we are learning more and more about signs and treatments. Most pet owners are still unaware of how common dementia is in both cats and dogs. Here is a list of symptoms to look for. If you note that your pet is struggling as a senior, consult your veterinarian and book an appointment right away.
Feel confident in knowing that Wagmo pet insurance coverage or popular wellness plans such as our deluxe plan or classic plan can help you deal with unexpected health issues along your pets journey.
Signs of CCD
Even at home, your old pal may get confused, not know where he is, forget where his food is, and forget his name. He may even forget who you are.
- Disinterest and Other Behavioral Changes
Your dog might lose interest in his favorite things: treats, toys, activities. If your dog disconnects from activities and items he once loved, he may have dementia.
Your dog may stare off into space for long periods.
Walking in circles or pacing are common symptoms of CDD. Dogs with CDD often cannot sit still, and they may pace incessantly.
- Sleep Disruptions or Changes
Your dog may not be able to settle down at night or may suddenly start sleeping all day.
Sudden barking, howling, or whining for seemingly no reason.
If your dog is suddenly and uncharacteristically aggressive, this may signify CDD. Aggression is the most disconcerting symptom of CDD and implies that your pet no longer recognizes you. Seek help immediately.
- Separation Anxiety
Your dog may suddenly need to be with you all the time and may whine or cry as you are leaving.
Your dog may have trouble with house training accidents.
How To Support Aging Dogs
The most important thing is to keep your patience with your dog. His behaviors will change, as detailed above, but if he could behave better, he would. Also, he will respond to touch. Pet him often and speak gently and softly to him.
The next thing to think about is to tighten up your routine. Can you feed him, walk him, and play with him at the same times a day and in the same order? The regulation may give your dog ease. Remember that he is often confused and may not know where he is.
Make sure you take him to his water and food bowls a few times during the day because he may forget where they are.
Exercise is essential to give your dog an engaging environment and keep him active and strong. But, make sure that he can be identified with a tag in case he wanders off because of confusion.
Dog Wellness Plans Vs. Insurance Plans
Your dog’s care may have to change as different problems arise. Consult with your veterinarian regularly. Be prepared for a significant increase in procedures and care costs.
As your dog ages, you will see regular visits and care increase and may have to handle severe problems like cancer. How do you cope with these rising costs?
Dog Wellness Plans
A Wagmo dog wellness plan allows you to pay a reasonable monthly fee for most ongoing care needs. You will get reimbursement for standard care like visits to the veterinarian, regular shots, and treatments. As your dog ages, these recurring costs increase and can be alleviated by investing in a Wellness Plan. Wellness plans are in effect as soon as you sign up.
Dog Insurance Plans
Wagmo Dog Insurance plans are designed to pay for unexpected health care costs. Dog insurance plans will not be helpful if you wait until your dog exhibits signs of an emerging or acute condition. It’s best to start this plan early because there is a Wagmo waiting period before the insurance comes into effect (to ensure that there were no pre-existing conditions).
If you are interested in discovering how Wagmo can help you care best for your dog with dementia, see which plan is best for you and start our free online quiz.