Dementia in dogs: Zinger is showing his age

18th July 2014 by

Here we go again, I thought, as Zinger, who will be 13 in September, is starting to show his age,  and with it a few signs of  dementia. He is pretty much deaf now which must confuse him. He has started to stand outside the French doors and stare inside for ages, or even scratch on the doors rather than pop back through the dog flap or the door which is invariably open.. Maybe he has bumped into ithe dog flap when it was closed which put him off was our first thoughts, but then we started to realise he was behaving slightly strangely in other ways. He won’t come past the television in the sitting room .. Or is it the other dogs, or the wooden floor?

We find he is obsessive about food but stops eating his breakfast half way through his food and stares for more while I am feeding the other dogs.  He will only eat his entire meal in one if I hold the bowl up for him, then he wolfs it down. He eats his chicken wings in the evenings in seconds!   He is also completely glued to my side, every door I go though, he is right behind me and often gets trodden on as a result poor fella! To begin with you just see it as age, but physically he is very fit. He is still extremely eager for his walks, although mostly walks behind the heel! He doesn’t swim anymore which is also curious, he used to fly into the river or sea at the first opportunity, now he will only paddle, never go out of his depth.

Awesome boyOften he suddenly jumps up and scrabbles around on the wooden floor as if something has leapt out of nowhere and is chasing him.. But there is nothing. so we have been increasingly aware that his age is creeping up on him and his brain is not functioning as it used to, so a little bit of dementia or senility.

Then there was an article about Dementia in dogs and cats in the newspaper which in a nutshell reported that dogs and cats, like humans are living longer therefore their brains deteriorate just as ours do. The signs to look for were  described thus:

If your pet is eight or older, and you answer yes to one or more of these questions, consult your vet:
·        Does your pet pace or wander aimlessly, finding it hard to settle?
·        Does it stare blankly as if unaware of surroundings?
·        Does it fail to recognise or respond to familiar people such as family and friends?
·        Does it get lost or confused in the home or garden?
·        Is it forgetful — for example, forgetting to go to the toilet or repeatedly seeking attention?
·        Does it vocalise repeatedly or for no reason?

Here at Animal Aunts HQ, we speak to Clients every day who have elderly dogs or cats, who need extra care because they have developed signs of dementia. The most common is barking incessantly for no reason and the altered sleep patterns, and/or incontinence.   We always reassure our Clients that we can deal with the elderly dog or cat just as well as the younger dog or cat in our care when the owners are away on holiday. It is very hard to watch your beloved dog or cat become more and more senile.

Zinger’s great great  great grandmother, Zambia lived to the grand old age of 20 and did suffer from dementia for the last few years, but she was prescribed a drug (the name of which escapes me but it is apparently no longer available) which increased the oxygen to her brain and kept her well and pottering happily for many years.Vivitonin and Anipril are the two drugs used nowadays.

At the Vet

Zinger and daddy waiting in the Vet

So we did some research and came across this rather lovely video from An American who had an elderly Shi Tzu , called Dawlee with dementia. Anipril was prescribed for the dog, Dawlee which made her lethargic and low. So he too did some research into a more holistic, herbal approach and came up with a combination of herbal remedies which he says worked really well for his little dog.

Off Trog went to the Bran Tub in Petersfield and  I started Zinger on 10 drops of each of Ginkgo Leaf, Hawthorne and Gotu Kola twice daily to see if it might help him.

The night before last however, he was in a terrible state, would not come through the open door and later would not get off the sofa, to go up to bed (he is normally first up the stairs) and was flinching, jumpy and clearly not himself. We decided it was time to get him looked at by the Vet.  Yesterday morning, we took him to St Peters in Petersfield and he was thoroughly examined by the very nice Tristan Shanks BVetMed, MRCVS. He agreed that Zinger has dementia and that Vivitonin could help  him.   It transpired by coincidence that Tristan had just started his own 14 year old Staffie on Vivitonin. We are trying it for 10 days, by which time there should be a marked improvement and if it works, we will continue, probably for the rest of his life.

We are relieved, in a way to have dementia confirmed, and to be treating it, although it is heartbreaking to suddenly have to acknowledge Zinger’s mortality.  It was good too for Zinger to have a full MOT and the vet said he was in excellent condition for his age, eyes bright, teeth very good and a nice weight only his hearing has gone.

Zinger nowWe can only wait and see if the Vivitonin helps him, there are many varying views on the internet about whether it works or not. the vet said it could do no harm to continue with the herbal drops as well, so that we shall do.