Alzheimer’s disease is among the most known cognitive dysfunctions worldwide, prevalently affecting the elderly human population.
However, few are aware that the condition can also be found in the animal kingdom, particularly among domestic cats and dogs that pass a certain age. The manifestation and rate of evolution of Alzheimer’s for canines and felines are relatively similar to humans. Here is what you should know about the disease.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in animals
As previously mentioned, Alzheimer’s is a cognitive dysfunction, which implies that a cat or a dog suffering from this impairment gradually loses its mental capabilities. The first symptoms that manifest comprise of disorientation. Your pet will often find itself confused at random times, even in the environment where it has spent its entire life.
The sleep patterns of animal could shift radically. For instance, a dog that normally slept mostly during the night will be wide awake during that period, and vice versa. A gradual loss of interest in human interactions generally follows.
‘Accidents’ such as urinating on the carpets represent a direct consequence of the cognitive and memory loss, even in previously housebroken or litter box-trained pets. On a side note, consulting a vet to confirm that behavioral alterations stem from the onset of Alzheimer’s disease rather than diagnosing the animal yourself is highly recommended.
The causes of Alzheimer’s disease in pets
The consensus on the roots of this cognitive dysfunction is that a number of factors all play a certain role. Brain cell oxidation, the excessive secretion of B-amyloid proteins that leads to plaques shrinking the animal’s brain and rapidly killing cells, an alteration in the functions of several substances involved in transmitting nerve impulses, they all lead to the deterioration of cognitive capabilities. A high number of similarities between the manifestations of Alzheimer’s in dogs and human patients led neuroscientists to develop research models for the human treatment of the condition.
Dealing with the onset of Alzheimer’s in pets
The treatment, or more accurately the delaying of the full-blown Alzheimer’s disease symptoms, can be achieved by combining behavioral therapy with an antioxidant-rich diet. Individually, both approaches yield low to moderate results, but in conjunction, they are a powerful tool to stave off the evolution of the cognitive dysfunctions.
In terms of nutrients, the food that a pet diagnosed with this condition should contain the following:
- Vitamin C and E
- Lipoic acids
Introducing vegetables and fruits such as pumpkin, carrot or spinach into the meals of your pet is also recommended.
Behavioral therapy implies spending more time per day with your aging pet, grooming, petting and playing with them. Vets also suggest mental-soliciting games, like hide and seek, or asking them to find treats hidden around the house.
Determining whether the behavior changes in an animal are related to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or a byproduct of aging can be tricky. Discovering the condition early on and taking the necessary steps to stagnate its evolution always produces superior results. Take your cat or dog to the vet regularly and remember to mention anything suspicious about their routine, to improve the chances of identifying the cognitive dysfunction in time.