Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome
How we can identify & Treat Cognitive Issues for Senior Pets
As our pets mature, significant aging changes and disease progression can develop quickly or sometimes as with cognitive problems have very subtle signs over along period of time. Behavioral changes can be significant and can negatively affect the bond we have with our pets. Early identification, treatment & possible even prevention are now possible.
Identification of Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS)
Part of our comprehensive physical exam (performed every 6 months after age 7 based on size & breed) is a thorough history of the pets daily activities, amount of sleeping, house soiling, night time restlessness, vocalization or decreased interaction with family members. An increase (or decrease) in any of these can indicate cognitive issues.
As a pet ages vision and hearing loss are also common so we must use our physical exam findings to see how issues there might be in addition to or as the primary cause.
Other issues that could affect mood or amount of urine production (diabetes, Cushings Disease & hypothroidism) and complicate the diagnosis will need to be ruled out by physical examination and laboratory testing.
Additionally a pet with advanced untreated osteoarthritis may simply be too painful to go out side to have a bowel movement and their house soiling may be related to that cause rather than cognitive issues or sometimes both are present.
Treatment historically has been through the use of Hill’s Rx food B/D and Pfizer’s Anipryl. While both of these products have worked in select cases older pets often need other Rx foods for their arthritis or kidney problems.
We have had some positive effects with DHA (one of the fish oils usually present in high amounts when we prescribe EPA) Although cognitive studies exist for young puppies and older humans for DHA, I am unaware of any study to direct you to with regard to older pets & CDS. We have seen improvement clinically in many pets. The question of course is..Is it because they feel better joint wise or it truly is affecting their mentation?
A truly exciting new product that we have been using on a trial basis and will soon be available publicly(very soon) is Neutricks. Believe it or not it is a sysntesized protein that was discovered in jellyfish. (It’s OK to laugh, I did!) Researchers in Madison Wiscosnin were awarded the Nobel Prize (in Chemistry in 2007 )for this process.
It is a neurologic protective protein (apoquerin) that has been marketed under the trade name Prevagen. I think it has great promise as a cognitive drug in dogs & cats (studies already performed in Toronto where B/D & Anipryl were tested) The most exciting thing may be results of trials they are doing at the University of Wisconsin Teaching Hospital with MS patients. link Stay tuned in this exciting area.
We stand ready to help you in this challenging area.
Any concerns you have will be addressed and lab work or medication may be recommended. We are committed to making your pet’s senior years truly golden ones!