Senior pets facing cognitive challenges

Senior pets facing cognitive challenges

Thanks to improved medications and nutrition, our furry friends are living longer. As they age, their behavior changes — but not always for the reasons you might think.

Confusion, memory loss, incontinence — these are some of the signs that are often attributed to a pet’s advanced age. Instead, they may be due to cognitive dysfunction syndrome, or CDS, which is akin to Alzheimer’s disease in people.

CDS is common in pets, affecting up to one third of cats and dogs in their early teens. By 15 years of age, the risk jumps to nearly 50 percent in cats and 70 percent in dogs.

CDS is diagnosed by ruling out other diseases. Although it cannot be cured, certain diets, supplements and medications can slow its progression. Exercise and environmental enrichment also provide healthy mental stimulation for senior pets with CDS.

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