But changes in an old dog need to be considered carefully. Behavioral changes can often be the signs of other problems, like diabetes, hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, dental disease, and cancers.
One thing that I’m learning more about is canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). Veterinarians describe this as a ‘diagnosis of exclusion’ which means they look to diagnose another disease or disorder first before deciding that the dog is suffering from CDS.
When assessing for symptoms and severity of CDS, veterinarians follow the acronym DISHA. DISHA stands for:
I = Interaction changes
S = Sleep/wake cycle changes
H = House soiling
A = Activity level changes
Disorientation can present as changes in spatial awareness, loss of ability to navigate around familiar obstacles, and/or wandering behavior.
Interaction changes can include a decreased interest in social interaction, petting, greetings, or dependent behaviors.
Restlessness or frequent waking during the night, panic or panting (particularly at night), and increased sleep during the daytime are indications of changes to sleep/wake cycles.
House soiling can increase when there is a loss of signal from the brain so your dog doesn’t realise it needs to eliminate; signs of incontinence or fouling indoors when this has never been a problem are symptoms.
Changes in activity can include decreased exploration and response to stimuli, decreased grooming, change in appetite, increased anxiety with signs of restlessness or agitation and/or separation anxiety.
Most vets offer senior wellness checks for older dogs. It’s well worth observing your older pet and discussing all changes with your vet before dismissing the changes as simply old age.
Source: Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine