Canine and Feline Senility

We all get old, and so do our beloved pets. Cats and dogs also can become senile, this article will help prepare you for that time. Some dogs may exhibit a number of behavioral changes linked to senility. This condition is now commonly called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, or Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.

While this syndrome is recognized in dogs, it has not been scientifically established in cats. There are four main areas where CCD symptoms appear. They are disorientation, interaction with people, activity level and sleep, and housetraining. Disorientation can be seen as an animal that wanders aimlessly, gets stuck in corners, stands at the wrong side of a door or appears not to recognize people or familiar commands and words. Interaction with people may change.

You may notice more (or less) attention seeking, a reluctance to be petted or touched, or lack of response to names and commands. Activity level and sleep changes show in such behaviors as sleeping more during the day and less at night, barking for no reason, forgetting meal times, and wandering aimlessly. Housetraining changes are obvious – urinating in the house, not asking to go outside or forgetting why they are there when they do go out. Incontinence is a physical problem, and should not be confused with forgetting due to senility.

Cats may show some of these same signs, though they are often more subtle. A number of other conditions can also show up in behavior changes in dogs and cats. Chronic pain can be responsible for behavior changes such as pacing or insommnia. Hyperthyroidism in cats is often a reason for some of the odd behaviors older cats may exhibit. Other hormonal disorders can also cause changes, especially those involving eating patterns or aggression. Medications can also cause changes in behavior, as can many other diseases and medical conditions.

Cats are also prone to small strokes, which can cause changes such as walking into walls, or appearing disorientated. A thorough medical exam with blood work will be necessary in order to determine if your pet has a cognitive disorder due to aging. A loss of hearing or sight can cause a similar syndrome, known as societal disassociative disorder. You can help your pet through these times by being aware of the causes and not taking it personally or punishing the animal for inappropriate behavior. You can offer extra attention and reassurance.

Try to keep a consistent schedule, and to not make a lot of physical changes in the dog or cat's environment. The use of flower essences, aromatherapy, herbs and touch therapy can all be helpful in keeping your dog or cat free of anxiety.

For more information on senility in dogs or cats, visit Pet Health Resource.


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