Dogs don’t stay as spring and sprightly as they were when they were puppies. Aging comes to us all and affects us in different ways – and it’s no different with dogs. As they get older, their weight might change, their joints will get sore, and they’ll sleep more often. You might even notice they get a little lost and confused – even in a house they’ve lived in their entire life!
It might start out slow at first, but if they’re becoming increasingly disoriented or you start to spot many symptoms, then it might be worth getting them checked out for dog dementia.
Even if the vet gives you bad news, you don’t need to despair. Although it might be heartbreaking to see your dog suffering from dementia, dog owners can take comfort in the fact that there are various ways to support your dog throughout their old age. With your help and a dash of CBD oil, they can still age gracefully.
What Is Dementia in Dogs?
The proper term for dog dementia is actually canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), although you might hear it referred to by other names, such as “dogzheimer’s”.
In fact, similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans, dementia affects mainly senior dogs. As their brain gets older, it simply doesn’t work as well as it used to, meaning their memory and concentration might decline. CCD has lots of symptoms, though, so no two older dogs will experience it in precisely the same way.
Causes of Dementia
We don’t know the precise causes of dog dementia, but the main reason it happens is that your dog’s mind gets older, and this affects their brain function. Still, some dogs might be more susceptible to developing CCD, particularly if they’ve had any brain injuries in the past.
Smaller dogs are also more likely to develop dementia. This might be because certain breeds are more prone to it, but it’s more likely due to smaller dogs having longer lifespans. Since they live longer than large dogs, their brain gets older, making them more prone to develop age-related illnesses.
Symptoms of Dementia in Dogs
It’s not always easy to spot the signs of dementia in dogs. After all, older dogs can be anxious, lazy, and bark a lot, even when nothing’s wrong. However, if they display more than a few symptoms frequently, it might be worth making a note of those symptoms and having a vet check them out.
Restless Pacing Behind Closed Doors
Restless pacing is one of the most common signs that your dog is feeling lost. They might not remember or even recognize where they are, making them feel confused even if they’ve lived in the same house for years. They’ll pace back and forth, unsure what to do, and might even bark for help.
Heightened Anxiety Levels
Feeling lost and confused is scary even at the best of times – but imagine if it happened all the time! Don’t be surprised if your dog soon starts to seem more anxious than usual. They might seem more withdrawn than normal and nervous, barking more often as they ask for your help and support.
Altered Hearing or Vision
Although a change in hearing or vision isn’t a sign of dog dementia per se, it can make the experience of living with dementia even worse. After all, if they’re already getting lost and confused, suddenly struggling to see or hear would be much more difficult for your pup.
Don’t immediately assume they have dementia if they get disoriented or lost, though. It might simply be a decline in sight or hearing since these often have the same symptoms as dementia.
Avoiding Engagement in Activities
If your dog isn’t leaping up to play with you or take part in normal activities, it might be because they’re feeling lost or just don’t understand. It’s possible they don’t know where they are and are too nervous to play.
Alternatively, their memory loss might mean they forget how to play or what activity you’re trying to get them to do. Don’t force them into anything, but instead, gently encourage them and see how they respond.
It’s always worrying when dogs suddenly stop eating. But when it comes to dogs with dementia, don’t be surprised if your dog suddenly starts eating more instead.
A variation in appetite is to be expected. Your dog might forget to eat entirely, or perhaps their increased anxiety causes them to eat even more. Monitor them during meal times and place the bowl right in front of their face so they can’t miss it.
Failing to Acknowledge Family Members
Canine cognitive dysfunction affects all areas of brain function, including memory. So, as well as forgetting the layout of their house and how to leave a room, your dog might even forget the humans they love too.
It’s important not to take this personally. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you or you’re not important to them. Since dementia in dogs confuses their mind, they might have a lapse in memory and forget people, tricks, and even where to go to the bathroom.
Loss of Bowel Control
Your pooch might not have had an accident indoors for years, but a big red flag for CCD is when they lose bowel control and start having regular accidents inside like puppies. This doesn’t always mean your pup’s developing dementia, but it’s very possible. This could be due to increased anxiety or some other consequence of aging.
Just remember not to be upset with them or lose your temper. After all, it’s not their fault! Just give them comfort and clean it up instead.
Barking for No Reason
Barking at the mailman or someone walking past the window is perfectly normal for dogs. But if they begin barking for no reason at all, it might be because their mind is starting to go, and they’re becoming lost or confused. It’s unsurprising that this can cause them to feel anxious and trigger barking out of distress as they ask for help.
Supporting Dogs Affected by Dementia
It’s heartbreaking to see dogs with dementia, but although there’s no cure, it doesn’t mean there’s no hope. Fortunately, there are still ways you can support your dog so they can age gracefully.
The main thing you can do is to keep things as peaceful as possible. The easiest way to do this is to work out a regular routine and stick to it. Keeping them in a calm environment with a regular routine minimizes the chance of your dog feeling lost or confused. If you need to deviate from your routine, take them for a walk first to tire them out and let them nod off with some relaxing soft music in the background.
Supplements are another effective way to help with dementia in dogs. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids benefit brain health for both dogs as well as humans, while various essential oils can help them relax. But often, the best way of delivering all these benefits is through CBD.
Reducing Stress with the Help of CBD Oil
It might take a while for you to find the best CBD for dogs, but with dementia, you ideally want a CBD oil that combines omega fatty acids and essential oils with the power of hemp.
CBD oil can be used to treat many things, but one of its key uses is minimizing stress and anxiety. With a blend of essential oils and CBD to encourage relaxation and calmness, you can support your dog’s dementia by minimizing stress and supporting brain health. With this support, they won’t feel lost and confused so often and will have a chance to age peacefully.
CBD for Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
CBD oil refers to cannabidiol, an extract from the hemp plant that supports dogs with a whole range of health issues, no matter if they’re struggling physically or mentally. The cannabinoids within CBD oil interact with the endocannabinoid system in your dog’s brain to maintain balance and homeostasis in their body and mind. This reduces inflammation and pain and even alleviates anxiety and stress.
While any CBD oil will help dogs with several problems, there are some formulas that focus on specific areas more than others. For example, CBD for dogs with anxiety might be different from CBD for dogs with hip dysplasia.
Although CBD oil isn’t specifically formulated for dementia in dogs, it can still help dogs by encouraging a feeling of calm and relaxation to avoid feeling panicked, lost, or confused. In fact, many caregivers report decreased distress when giving CBD to older dogs with dementia.
Research on CBD for Dementia in Dogs
There’s been plenty of research into CBD’s efficacy for various health issues. Although most studies focus on how CBD affects pain and can possibly treat cancer, there is still some research into the neurological benefits of CBD and its phytocannabinoids. Put simply, CBD oil doesn’t just help with joint pain and anxiety, but it can help your dog’s brain work better too.
In fact, one review showed how CBD can provide symptomatic relief to those with Alzheimer’s disease by “reversing cognitive defects.” The AHVMA even published a scientific review specifically about how to treat canine cognitive dysfunction.
While CBD helps your dog’s brain stay healthy and stops dementia from getting worse, studies show that it can go one step further by encouraging a feeling of calm. As the cannabinoids interact with the receptors in your dog’s endocannabinoid system, they receive a therapeutic calming effect that alleviates any feelings of anxiety and stops panic in its tracks.
CBD Dosage for Dementia in Dogs
The good news is that dogs can’t overdose on CBD, especially when pet CBD has THC levels that are either negligibly low or non-existent. However, there’s still a risk that you can give them too much. Large amounts of CBD can lead to adverse side effects like lethargy, diarrhea, and vomiting. And since the whole point of CBD for dogs with dementia is to keep them calm, this is to be avoided at all costs.
Nevertheless, if you do accidentally give your dog too much CBD, you don’t need to panic. Any unpleasant side effects are temporary and usually disappear within 24 hours.
The correct CBD dosage for your dog comes down to various factors, but the main ones are the size and breed of your dog. Although there’s no specific guidance, a general rule of thumb is to give your dog somewhere between 1mg to 5mg of CBD for every 10 lbs of body weight. Start with a lower dosage and slowly increase it until it has the desired effects on your dog.
Other Treatments for Dementia in Dogs
It’s not just CBD that can support dogs with dementia. Essential oils can promote relaxation, while omega oils and fatty acids can boost brain health. But you could always go one step further by using medicinal mushrooms as well.
Utilizing Medicinal Mushrooms for Dementia
There are various types of medicinal mushrooms you can use to treat dementia in dogs. In fact, if you’re interested, there are plenty of high-quality mushroom extracts and adaptogen tinctures you could try out.
Hericium erinaceus usually goes by the more popular name, “Lion’s Mane.” Like CBD, Lion’s Mane helps your dog by supporting both their nervous system and immune system. This is achieved thanks to the polysaccharides acting as prebiotics to improve gut health.
Although gut health might seem irrelevant, it’s actually often linked to mental health. A healthy gut can keep the brain healthy and improve your dog’s memory and concentration, keeping dementia symptoms at bay.
Another option is Reishi mushrooms. As a neuroprotectant, Reishi mushrooms also benefit the nervous system. Its main benefit to dementia in dogs is how it supports their adrenal function. This reduces the triggering stressful situations, alleviating anxiety and improving their mood. Since you want to keep dogs with dementia calm, this is ideal.
No matter how many dogs you’ve had, it’s overwhelming when your pup gets diagnosed with cognitive dysfunction. With so much to come to terms with, you likely have several questions about how CBD products might help them age with more peace and comfort.
1. Is CBD Oil Effective for Canine Cognitive Dysfunction?
CBD is by no means a miracle cure for canine cognitive dysfunction, but it can slow down its progression and make your dog as comfortable as possible in its old age. CBD affects stress and boosts cognitive function, making it an effective way of treating cognitive dysfunction by keeping your pet comfortable and calm.
2. When Should I Seek Veterinary Advice for Canine Dementia?
Your dog should visit their vet regularly – at least once a year, if not more often. However, as your pup becomes a senior dog, it’s better to see the vet for a more regular check-up, perhaps twice a year, to make sure they’re aging well. Note down any unusual behaviors or symptoms your dog might be exhibiting and let your vet know when they have their next check-up.
However, if your dog starts to show frequent signs of dementia, then it’s best to take them to a holistic vet as soon as possible so you can get advice on how best to look after your fur baby in their old age.
3. What’s the Best Way to Treat Dementia in Dogs?
Sadly, you can’t cure dementia in dogs, but you can still treat it and manage its progression. Although there’s no treatment that will get rid of dementia in dogs, it can slow or even pause its progression to give your dog a better life as they age.
Your vet might prescribe something like selegiline, a medication that’s also used to treat Parkinson’s and can help slow cognitive decline. But you can also use natural treatments to support their health and reduce stress, such as essential oils and CBD products. Remember also to keep your dog’s diet healthy and stick to a routine that minimizes stress.
4. Is It Possible to Take Steps to Prevent Dementia?
Since we don’t know the precise cause of dementia in dogs, we can’t do much to prevent it. Sadly, it seems to just be a natural part of the aging process. However, the best thing you can do to try and slow its progression is to keep them on a healthy diet, give them plenty of exercise, and avoid stressful situations as much as possible.
And just to give them the best chance you can, health supplements might slow dementia’s development too.
An older dog diagnosed with canine cognitive dysfunction doesn’t have to be as bad as it sounds. With the right treatment, you can help your dog manage their symptoms and maybe even slow its progression.
Although there are various ways to treat it, one of the simplest ways is to introduce CBD oil into their daily health regimen. With just a few drops a day, caregivers report decreased distress and more relaxed pups.
If you keep their brain ticking over and help them stay relaxed, they can enjoy their twilight years in comfort and peace.