Dec 12, 2009
As this normal part of life occurs, many changes may be occurring as well. Its normal. It is one of those facts of life that happen to all of us, including our pets. Behavior changes may very well be part of the aging process. Dementia and aggression are common, as well as things like loss of bladder control, deafness and other physical signs. These problems may very well get worse as time goes on. It does not necessarily mean a trip to the vet to help your best friend go off into an endless peaceful sleep. There are other alternatives; other ways to help you and your pet both during this time of stress.
First, look at the changes in your pet’s behavior the same way you would if it were an elderly relative. After all, your dog is your loyal, loving best friend and companion.
Dementia, for example is a disorder that is as common in dogs as it is in people. It affects the ability to think clearly and one of the causes of forgetfulness. Eventually, your dog may even forget his own name and stop responding when you call. In dementia, the neurotransmitters in the brain are aging, slowing down and this leads to permanent damage of those transmitters. Just as in people. Your dog may be walking along without any sense of direction or purpose; it seems he just doesn’t know where he is going or why. He doesn’t.
Another sign is aggression.
Your normally happy, friendly dog will just as a puppy, jump up and wag its tail but its hackles will be raised and he will be baring his teeth. Hostility toward other dogs especially during play will be noticeable. Instead of playing, it becomes fighting, and the old guy is really out to take off his former playmate’s head.
Sometimes this aggression if directed toward you and your family. Your dog suddenly becomes a threat. As hard as that is to believe, it is a common occurrence among old dogs. Your dog becomes apprehensive, thinking something bad is about to happen and directs this aggression toward you or another family member. When your pet has reached this point, things are going to be tough for the both of you.
There are many courses of action available, mainly in the realm of medications. There are medicines out there, available from your vet that can and do help with these cognitive disorders. Using these medications can help improve overall mental abilities, improving memory and helping your dog be less confused and more aware of its surroundings.
Now is the time to talk to your vet. He or she can offer a load of advice, suggest treatment options as well as prescribe medications. Another alternative is a pet behavioralist. These professionals can also offer a wealth of insight, advise and expertise in changing the behavior of aging dogs.