Old dog sleeping

Pet dementia: majority of cases undiagnosed

Vets are calling for more awareness of pet dementia, with an estimated 85% of cases currently going undiagnosed.

Clinically known as cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS), pet dementia affects ageing dogs and cats. It causes problems with their memory, confusion, anxiety and disorientation — much like Alzheimer’s in humans, says veterinary charity PDSA.

Old dog

Sadly, there is no cure. But there are medicines available that can help to reduce some of the symptoms and slow the progression of the illness.

One in four elderly dogs and one in three cats will develop dementia, according to Vets4Pets. The veterinary group says that greater awareness is needed about the condition, as treatment is more effective in the early stages.

Owners are advised to watch for behaviour changes in their pets which could be an early indication of the onset of dementia, such as:

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Toileting in the house
  • Changes in sleeping pattern
  • Becoming more withdrawn and seeming depressed
  • Decreased desire to play
  • Repetitive behaviour, such as pacing around the home
  • Howling, barking or meowing more often

“Pets with dementia can be helped by modifying their routine and environment to suit their needs, as well as giving them appropriate exercise,” said Dr Huw Stacey, an animal behaviourist and director of clinical services at Vets4Pets. “There are medications, supplements and prescription diets that can also be beneficial.”

Petwise is the first insurance company in the UK to offer new pet insurance policies exclusively for dogs and cats aged seven years and older. Benefits include access to our free 24-hour Vet Helpline for any queries regarding your pet’s health.

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.