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  • Dr. Mitsie Vargas

Doggie Dementia

Updated: Nov 19, 2019


Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) or doggie dementia is an under diagnosed disease affecting a large segment of our aging pet population.


According to the Washington State University Animal Behavior department, there are four distinct types of CCD.

The first one is involutive depression, which is similar to chronic depression in humans and it arises from chronic anxieties that were never addressed properly. The pets become frightful, seek hiding places and soil in the house.


The second type is called Dysthymia, in which the senior pet loses feelings in the extremities and becomes lodged into corners or appears to lose coordination and become very clumsy. this type also causes behavioral changes like the dog becoming more aggressive.

The third type is the hyper aggressive dog. This one causes many pet-human bonds to break and result in euthanasia. This results in a deficiency in serotonin, the dog loses the ability to communicate and is generally impulsive and bite the owners or other dogs if challenged. Oftentimes, there is a brain tumor involved.

The fourth type is the confusional syndrome, which is characterized by a sharp decline in cognitive ability. These dogs can't learn new tricks and forget the ones they used to know. This form is the closest one to human Alzheimer's disease.

This condition could be one of those conditions that are actually very responsive to your pet’s diet!

Food therapy can slow down the progression and even prevent doggie dementia because I have tried it in many of my patients. Cooking for your senior or supplementing his dog foods with Blood and Qi building foods will provide much needed extra energy.


Cats can also get dementia although it is more common for them to get it in conjunction with hyperthyroidism and kidney failure. Therefore, when cats show signs of senility, the first thing I recommend is a blood panel for a better idea of the situation. The same concept of feeding Qi rich foods applies to most of these kitties.


Glucosamine is well known for the help with increasing joint fluids and helping arthritis but few people know the value of adding Kelp to both senior cats and dogs’ diets.


Kelp is a great addition for older pets because it is loaded with Vitamins and Minerals and has iodine to help their thyroid function. It is a good natural source of Vitamin E, which many believe is a key brain nutrient.


To prevent CCD, I recommend starting these supplements at age 7 for large breeds and age 10 for small dog breeds and cats. If your elderly pet is exhibiting signs of early dementia, supplement with homemade foods and add vitamin E capsules at a therapeutic dose of 25 IU per pound.


I also recommend adding Huperzine A, which has been proven to improve focus and memory in people, or Ginkgo biloba, which does the same. The doses of these are empirical and are usually off label use since they are human-grade supplements. It is best to ask your veterinarian what dose and frequency they recommend since the strengths and formulas vary per product.


Sadly, there are many disreputable companies selling useless products so, a veterinarian recommendation is preferable. It is also important to realize that not all human supplements are safe for pet consumption.

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