Written by Marissa Greenberg, DVM
There comes a point in all of our dog’s lives where we can start to see signs of aging. Some of these signs might be very normal parts of the aging process, but other could indicate Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), which is very similar to dementia in people. Though there is no cure for either of these, there are some nutritional supplements and drugs that have been studied and shown to help CCD. Through a series of articles, I will share with you some of my own experiences living with an old dog, as well as, the experiences that coworkers have had with their senior dog friends. These stories will aid you in learning how to cope with problems unique to our senior dogs, and help to differentiate normal aging from CCD.
I’ve been planning to write about this topic for quite some time now. But it is a difficult and sensitive topic. It has been very hard for me to watch, Slink, my 15 –year- old female Queensland Heeler/border collie, age over the last couple of years. I have learned that some of it has been good to experience, as I believe that it helps me as a veterinarian to better relate to and understand what my clients and patients are experiencing. I have also learned that some of it is much harder on me emotionally than it really is on Slink.
Some of the first signs of Slink’s advancing age started several years ago, and were quite subtle. She started to run just a little slower- in fact as my younger dog, Mico, matured and Slink aged, Slink just couldn’t keep up with him anymore when they played a game of chase on the beaches in San Luis Obispo county. Her vision started to get just a little poor, especially at night- I would see her hesitate to jump in the car at night or slow down a little bit to check things out more closely. And then there was the decline in her hearing. This might be one of the hardest problems of all to handle as a dog owner and is one of the most common things owners of older dogs ask me about. Next time I will talk more about hearing loss, ways to cope and compensate for it and the challenges it can bring.
If you think your dog is showing signs of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or you have questions about the aging process, please call us at Animal Care Clinic. We are here to help you and your family through the golden years of your dog’s life.