If my elderly dog is showing signs of dementia, is there anything that can be done to slow the process down?
Also, is it inevitable that she will lose control of her bodily functions (urinating in the house, etc)?
Erin, to some extent, progression of dementia symptoms is inevitable. In one study conducted by University of California-Davis, 32% of 11 year old dogs had symptoms of dementia but by the time they were 16 years old, 100% of the dogs were affected. Symptoms do include loss of toilet training but that's one of a number of symptoms and not all dogs are affected the same way. Your girl may or may not lose control of her bodily functions.
There are things that you can do to slow the progression down.
Environmental enrichment is very important. You can definitely teach an old dog new tricks and this can help keep their brain functioning. Choose tricks that are within your dog’s physical capabilities. Playtime with other dogs, and going for walks in both familiar and unfamiliar places are both helpful in keeping the mind active.
Changing your dog’s diet can be of benefit, in that prescription diets with anti-oxidants and omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve how well an elderly dog learns new tasks. If you combine the prescription diet with environmental enrichment, you’re giving your dog the best chance at staying mentally sharp.
Your vet can prescribe medication that prolongs the activity of the chemical dopamine in your dog’s brain. This is a chemical that’s involved in sending signals from one nerve cell to another so it’s very important for brain function. In one study, over 75% of dogs with dementia improved with this treatment but it appears that the earlier it is started, the better the results.
| 05.18.16 @ 23:24