Dear Valued Client,

Have you noticed a change in your senior pup’s behavior? Are you more aware of their age than you have been in the past? Is your senior pup showing any of the following signs?

  • Disorientation
  • Changes in interactions
  • Alteration to the sleep/wake cycle
  • House soiling
  • Activity changes
  • Anxiety and learning/memory changes

If so, your dog may be showing signs of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (‘Doggie Dementia’). This is a common finding that can affect upwards of 68% of our senior pups. This process can be considered similar to Alzheimer’s in humans. As our dogs’ brains age, they are not as amenable to oxidative stress, which can ultimately lead to neuron death. With this ailment, our goal is to teach you the signs to look for and to give you tools to improve those changes that are negatively affecting you and your pup’s lives.

The following are options we have available to us to help limit and potentially improve the signs of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction:

Diet Options:

Purina and Hill’s make diets that include ingredients like Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and others that can help with the aging brain.

Supplement Options:

There are many supplements available that include Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which contain EPA and DHA. These have been shown to improve cognition, learning, mood, and even aggression. Other supplements contain ingredients like gingko biloba, Vitamin E, and Vitamin B6. Some of these supplements even contain antioxidants that help with tissue repair/regeneration and cell membrane fluidity.


A lot of the time, our pups with doggie dementia are not getting a good night’s sleep. We can discuss appropriate sleeping aid medications/supplements to aid in a more restful night. This will allow the brain to relax and potentially repair itself with good sleep cycles. In addition to sleeping medications, we can consider adding in anti-anxiety medications as many of our pups cannot process normal daily stresses like they used to.

Cognitive Therapies:

It has also been shown that enrichment activities at home have been beneficial. Taking the time to train new commands and engage in appropriate play/exercise can be hugely beneficial. We also want to discuss how to manage the environment. Such changes at home like increasing lighting if your pup is declining visually, or adding anti-slip booties & floor mats can prevent slipping in the house, which can be very impactful.

As you can see, there are numerous options available to us as pet owners and veterinary teams to help guide you and your decision-making for the most appropriate therapy. Our goal is to establish a routine that we can sustain, as many of these changes are slow onset, which means slow to show improvement.

Use this tool from Purina to help us determine and score your pet’s Cognitive Dysfunction.

Senior Canine Cognitive Assessment- DISHAA to DISHAA Assessment Tool

“Otto” (telemedicine) is a wonderful option for us to take the time to determine what is the most appropriate way to positively impact your pup with the changes/additions that can be most beneficial. It can be used for us to monitor progress and make alterations to the plans.

Thank you. Please let us know how we can help!

Dr. Mark Belyeu