Dogs exhibiting behavioral changes such as visual impairment, urinary incontinence, arthritic pain or metabolic disorders such as thyroid or adrenal gland dysfunction need a full physical examination by a veterinary surgeon to determine whether these are simply the underlying health problems needing to be addressed or whether, in fact, they are suffering from canine cognitive dysfunction as the symptom of disorientation is exhibited in several conditions and may be misleading.
It is important to remember that as dogs age, they can show behavioral changes. Unfortunately, many people who notice changes in their aging dogs, such as visual impairment, bed-wetting and night-time wandering. simply dismiss these as the inevitable consequences of advancing years and do not realize that much can be done to help their pet enjoy a comfortable and dignified retirement. What owners must realize is that there are physiological as well as psychological reasons for these behavioral changes and that often there are effective treatments available for them. Arthritis, leaky bladders and other age-related changes can be successfully treated. Older dogs, just like older people, need special consideration and healthcare.
Affected animals seem disoriented at times and often bark for no reason. They wander into corners, ask for food and then forget to eat it, and sometimes start soiling inside. They often become very insecure and show signs of separation anxiety.
The good news is that there are drugs to treat this condition. Some work by causing vasodilatation, increasing blood supply to the brain, thereby increasing oxygen and glucose availability. These drugs may be helpful if administered early in a dog’s aging process. Others increase dopamine levels in the brain and are neuro-protective