Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) is a condition that is similar to Alzheimer’s Disease that can affect aging cats and dogs. While, there is no cure for CDS, it can cause behavioral changes similar to other diseases that are treatable. That is why it’s important to have your pet examined by a veterinarian if he or she shows signs of CDS. A comprehensive blood panel and urinalysis can help determine the cause of new unwanted behaviors and ensure your pet is getting the most appropriate treatment. Animals with CDS are usually over nine years old.
The most common sign of CDS is a disruption in normal sleeping patterns. Animals with CDS will often sleep soundly during the day, then be restless at night. Other signs of CDS may include a change in how your pet interacts with you, confusion or disorientation at home, and general anxiety. Cats with CDS will often begin to meow excessively, especially at night, and develop issues properly using their litter box.
A combination of dietary supplements and environmental enrichment appears to be the best approach to managing CDS. SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) is a nutraceutical that has been found to have beneficial effects on the brain for animals with CDS. Other medications may be effective for pets struggling with anxiety and sleep issues. New toys and training exercises to keep the brain active and engaged is recommended. Regular exercise can also very important.
Like people, pets face new health challenges as they age. It’s important to pay attention to changes in behavior and seek out veterinary assistance when needed to keep older animals as happy and healthy as possible.
Originally published September 2014 in the Weekly Herald