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Animal Update: Old Dogs With Dementia

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – September is World Alzheimer’s Month and many people may not know, animals can be affected by the disease as well.

Dr. Jennifer Scarlett with the San Francisco SPCA said it is a disease that crops up as pets age.

“Dogs and some cats will experience age-related dementia and we call this condition Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome or CDS. It’s important to remember just like with humans, not all animals will become senile as they get older,” she said.

Dr. Scarlett said the condition is very similar to what happens in humans.

“When they’ve looked at brain tissue of geriatric dogs that have had Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, they find these deposits of beta amyloid plaques, very similar to what happens in humans with Alzheimer’s,” Scarlett said. “And these plaques just get in the way of normal nerve function, muddling up the messages.”

And the signs that a dog might be suffering from a form of dementia?

“It’s disorientation and confusion and for dogs and cats, sometimes it will be that they’ve forgotten that they had just eaten. A dog will fool you on that when they’re younger as well,” she said. “But sometimes they’ll be stuck staring at a wall or vocalizing and your veterinarian can help you discern whether this is due to some other geriatric disease or if this is due to Cognitive Dysfunction.”

Dr. Scarlett said that if your dog is diagnosed with Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, there is a drug available that has been shown to help reverse some of the clinical signs.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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