Since SCAR have been working with the DC, it got me thinking how frequent is dementia in non-human animals, and can non-human animals get dementia at all?
The information that is currently out there states that “little data has been collected on older animals in the wild, but while they may reach old age, if they were to develop dementia-like symptoms, they wouldn’t last very long” but what about our often long-lived companion animals?
Data has been collected regarding companion dogs and cats, and according to the PDSA signs of dementia include “loss of toilet training, confusion or disorientation, change in social interaction and relationships” among other symptoms. Recent research from the University of Edinburgh found that “half of all cats over the age of 15 and a third of those aged 11 to 14 suffer from dementia”. Whilst another study revealed that “41% of dogs aged 14 and over and 23% of those aged 12 and over also suffer”.
According to Jon Bowen from the Royal Veterinary College in London “the main form of dementia in animals is called Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, which is a degenerative brain disease remarkably similar to Alzheimer’s in humans”.
So how can we help our aging best friends to avoid developing dementia, or treat them if they are already suffering?
The PDSA recommend certain supplements which help keep older animals with dementia bright and alert, and there are medications to help manage the condition and slow degeneration. But it seems that the best thing we can do is try to prevent our furry family members from developing dementia in the first place. According to this source “sedentary lifestyles and poor diets may be behind the rising number of dogs succumbing to the disease”. Alongside ensuring our dogs and cats are given the best nutrition possible, and keeping them active, we can also follow some other tips for helping our aging pals mentally astute, check them out here.
Have you ever known a companion animal with dementia? Do you have any tips on preventing dementia in non-human animals? Let us know in the comments below.