It's an unfortunate fact of life that dogs age much faster than humans. And it can be difficult to witness a beloved dog slow down and lose their vitality. Although every dog is different, common signs of aging include exercise intolerance, sensory decline, and the development of age-related diseases such as joint disorders and heart disease.
Canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) is another disease that affects many senior dogs. It is similar to Alzheimer's disease in humans, and leads to a number of distressing symptoms that can be difficult to manage. If you're the owner of a senior dog, it's important to recognize the signs of CCD so you can get your furry friend the help they need.
In this post, we'll share 4 signs that your dog is in mental decline so you know when it's time to visit your veterinarian. We'll also take a look at how virgin coconut oil can help prevent (and even reverse!) the process of mental decline in senior dogs.
1) Soiling in the House
Loss of house training is a common sign of CCD in senior dogs. As the disease progresses, many dogs forget learned behaviors such as going outside to use the bathroom. However, it is important to note that soiling in the house can indicate a wide range of behavioral and medical issues.
If your senior dog starts soiling in the house, it is important to visit your veterinarian as soon as possible to identify the cause of the problem. Aside from CCD, common causes of soiling in the house include bladder infections, inflammatory bowel disease, and conditions such as Cushing's disease that cause increased urine production. Soiling in the house may also be linked to behavioral issues such as fear and anxiety disorders.
2) Irregular Sleep Patterns
Another common sign of CCD is disrupted or irregular sleep patterns. Often, dogs with the disease will sleep throughout the day or at odd hours. They may also suffer from insomnia at night, and display behaviors such as barking or pacing around the house.
Changes in sleep patterns can also be caused by behavioral issues or diseases such as arthritis and hip dysplasia. Your veterinarian will perform a series of tests to identify the cause of your dog's irregular sleep patterns and treat any underlying health issues.
CCD causes changes in the brain that can lead to disorientation in dogs. You may notice that your dog has trouble remembering the route of their daily walk. They may also wander aimlessly around the home and appear anxious or confused in familiar places.
If your dog seems disoriented, it is important to visit your veterinarian to rule out other potential causes of their symptoms. We also recommend sticking to a regular routine to help ease confusion and anxiety.
4) Behavioral Changes
Dogs with CCD will often display behavioral changes brought about by the disease. These include anxiety, disassociation with family members, and a lack of willingness to interact and play.
Sudden aggression is another sign of CCD in senior dogs. This often occurs as a result of impaired memory, fear, or confusion. If your dog displays behavioral changes, please visit your veterinarian as soon as possible so the cause of the problem can be identified and treated.
Coconut Oil and Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
Now you know some of the most common signs of CCD to be aware of, let's take a look at how coconut oil can help prevent and reverse the process of mental decline.
The underlying cause of CCD in dogs is a defect in the way in which glucose is metabolized in the brain. Not all dogs develop this defect, but age is a risk factor that increases its likelihood.
Fortunately, the brain can also derive energy from energy-producing molecules known as ketones. The body can make these molecules from stored fat, or from special fats known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).
Ketone production can be stimulated by feeding your dog a carefully controlled species-appropriate diet, rich in fatty organ and muscle meats. A diet of this type is natural for dogs, and allows the production of ketones that prolong brain health.
Adding a rich source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) to your pet's diet can also help raise blood ketone levels to the therapeutic levels needed to prolong brain health. And since many dogs eat less as they age, this can be a great way to boost vital ketone production.
Around 63% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are MCTs. Supplementing your dog's diet with a high-quality virgin coconut oil can raise blood ketones to levels that can support brain growth and development and prevent degenerative processes that lead to the development of CCD.
In addition to ketone production, studies have shown that lauric acid, a predominant medium chain fatty acid (MCFA) in coconut oil, reduces the formation of amyloid plaque in the brain (a substance that causes Alzheimer’s disease)1. Lauric acid is partly converted into ketones by the liver, while the rest enters the bloodstream where it can reach the brain and defend it against infection as well as be converted into ketones in the brain.
Adding virgin coconut oil to your dog's diet from an early age is also a safe and effective way to guard against mental decline in later life. In fact, research has found that dogs fed a diet containing MCTs are less prone to cognitive decline, and even show improvements in memory and activity levels when fed MCTs.
The therapeutic benefits of MCTs on dogs showing signs of CCD vary depending on the levels of medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil. We recommend supplementing your dog's diet with a therapeutic-grade virgin coconut oil such as CocoTherapy coconut oil, which contains high Lauric acid levels, and is 100% certified organic, Non-GMO, raw (true cold-pressed), and non-hydrogenated.
Our oil contains high levels of medium chain fatty acids that support the brain. The cooking-grade coconut oils you'll find on most supermarket shelves will have little beneficial effect on cognitive health, as the levels of MCTs in cooking-grade coconut oils are often not sufficient to support cognitive function.
Caring for a dog with CCD can cause a great deal of emotional stress. Check out our previous post for some tips to help you cope.