Pets become increasingly susceptible to the pitfalls of impaired mental function as they age. Similar to older adults, the chance of experiencing symptoms related to Alzheimer’s or dementia increases, which calls for immediate medical consultation. Unsure if your pet is showing signs? Here are some ways to spot early symptoms of cognitive dysfunction:
- 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.
- Anxiety — Pets with cognitive dysfunction may exhibit increased anxiety when separated from their owners and be more fearful of visual or auditory stimuli.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Worried your pet is undergoing extended anxiety or disorientation? Have you shown a recent change in activity levels? If you’re in the Hinesburg, VT area, contact us to schedule a diagnostic screening for your four-legged pal.