Like many conditions that come with age, rates of canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) are increasing alongside a growing population of older pups.
Much like Alzheimer’s disease in humans, CCD occurs when a dog’s brain begins to degrade and become impaired—usually as a result of the aging process. Age-related cognitive decline will often affect memory and learning abilities, but it’s not the only condition that causes canine dementia. Genetic factors, diseases, and traumas may also predispose an animal to dementia.
According to ABC news, dogs over the age of 14 have around a 40 percent chance of developing symptoms related to dementia and other forms of neurodegeneration. A 2001 study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, on the other hand, puts the figure as high as 68 percent in dogs over 15 years old.
Symptoms of CCD often gradually increase and commonly include confusion, forgetfulness, and anxiety. For example, a dog may forget their morning walk routine, or lose the ability to successfully navigate around their home. Sleeplessness is another frequent side effect, as well as a loss of recognition of previously well-known family members.