As our pets age, the need for more delicate care and attention is required to maintain their health and well-being. As much as we humans are susceptible to cognitive dysfunction in our elder years, the same goes for our four-legged friends. Signs associated with mental conditions such as Alzheimer’s or dementia can become noticeable. However, with early diagnosis and proper intervention, you can help ease the negative impact on your pet’s health. Here’s how to recognize signs of cognitive dysfunction.

  • House-soiling, learning, and memory — Your pet may be less likely to respond to previously learned commands or their name and suffer from decreased focus and increased distraction. You may also notice inappropriate elimination issues if your pet forgets their previous house training. 
  • Activity — One change in pets that is commonly confused as an old-age problem is a decreased desire to play or exercise. Pets may also display repetitive behaviors, such as circling, chewing, licking, or pacing.
  • Disorientation — Your pet may get stuck behind furniture or doors, have difficulty getting around objects, fail to recognize familiar people or pets, or get lost in your home or yard. 
  • Sleep-wake cycles — One of the most common complaints of cognitive dysfunction is an off-balance sleep-wake cycle. These pets are typically restless, will pace or continually wake up, and may excessively vocalize throughout the night.
  • Interaction — Your pet may display a decreased interest in socializing and interacting with your family and become irritable or aggressive with visitors, other animals, or familiar family members. 
  • Anxiety — Pets with cognitive dysfunction may exhibit increased anxiety when separated from their owners and be more fearful of visual or auditory stimuli. 

Commonly referred to as DISHAA, this acronym of cognitive dysfunction signs will help you spot changes in your pet sooner, allowing for more effective treatment. 

Early diagnosis and appropriate medical care can mean the difference in maintaining your pet’s mental health through their golden years. Unsure of their current mental state? Schedule an appointment for a wellness exam and consultation.