Rouse Hill Times - - NEWS - Dr Anne Fawcett

LIKE peo­ple, com­pan­ion an­i­mals can be prone to ex­pe­ri­enc­ing de­men­tia-like symp­toms in their old age.

Cog­ni­tive Dys­func­tion Syn­drome (CDS), some­times re­ferred to as “dogzeimers”, is com­mon. In one study, 28 per cent of dogs aged 11-12 years had at least one symp­tom, in­creas­ing to 68 per cent of dogs in the 15-16 year age bracket.

Symp­toms of CDS in­clude dis­ori­en­ta­tion, changes in in­ter­ac­tions with peo­ple or other an­i­mals, al­tered sleep­ing pat­terns, house-soil­ing and changes in ac­tiv­ity lev­els. There is general agree­ment that many an­i­mals with CDS have in­creased anx­i­ety.

The early signs are very sub­tle. The most com­mon symp­tom that own­ers re­port is al­tered sleep-wake cy­cles, as they are wo­ken by their an­i­mals in the night. The sec­ond most com­mon symp­tom re­ported is house-soil­ing.

There is no di­ag­nos­tic test for CDS. Other con­di­tions that can cause sim­i­lar signs – like kid­ney dis­ease, uri­nary in­con­ti­nence, thy­roid dis­ease and pain – should be looked for and ad­dressed be­fore a di­ag­no­sis of CDS is made.

A cure for CDS is not avail­able, how­ever some dogs and cats have im­proved qual­ity of life with med­i­ca­tion.

Dr Anne Fawcett is a lec­turer in vet­eri­nary

science at the Univer­sity of Sydney and a vet with Sydney An­i­mal Hos­pi­tals In­ner West. Read her blog: smal­l­an­i­

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