Can Pets Get Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease has become one of the most common and most devastating illnesses to impact our world today. With millions of adults currently battling this condition, more and more new questions are being raised about Alzheimer’s disease each and every day. One of the latest questions to come about regarding Alzheimer’s disease has to do with its ability to impact animals. As many pet owners know, common human conditions such as diabetes and cancer are known to impact pets, which is why many wonder if pets can also fall victim to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

As more and more veterinarian medical research is being done on domestic dogs and cats, some surprising information on our pets and their ability to develop certain health issues has emerged. In fact, many studies show that now that dogs and cats are living longer in their safe and controlled home environments, they are also living long enough to develop certain cognitive dysfunction, such as dementia. This has been an interesting study as most animals in the wild wouldn’t be able to survive in their natural habitats with these cognitive challenges, yet because pet owners are able to take such great care of their animals, they are often able to survive with what we as humans would classify as dementia.

So, how do you know if your senior dog or cat has dementia? Well many of the signs and signals are actually very close to the signs that you would notice in humans. If you have a senior cat, here are some signs to look for:

  • Erratic behavior
  • Begging for attention for no reason
  • Wailing without wanting anything
  • Begging for food when the bowl is full
  • Sleeping more than normal
  • Not sleeping at all
  • Wandering aimlessly

If you have a senior dog, here are a few signs to look for:

  • Forgetting about house training
  • Acting disoriented or walking in circles
  • Staring into corners or at the wall
  • Sleeping more during the day and less at night
  • Pacing
  • Wandering aimlessly
  • Forgetting trick
  • Getting stuck behind furniture
  • Struggling to find their bed, crate or the door

While the research on animal dementia is so new, there is also very little available in terms of possible treatments for animals with this condition. Also, much like human Alzheimer’s, there is no actual cure for the cognitive disease. The good news is, there are a few things that pet owners can do in order to keep their pet’s brains as healthy as possible and to help them enjoy the best quality of life they can. Keeping your dog’s brain active in old age with training and new tricks is a great start. You can also add antioxidants, L-carnitine and fatty acids to their diets. The more stimulated and active your pet can stay the better.

The more you know about animal Alzheimer’s, the better prepared you will be to look for these signs of issues as your beloved pet starts to age, so you can get them the care they deserve to live their best life possible.

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