There's some illnesses that impact humans that can also afflict our pets -- diabetes, arthritis, heart disease are just a few. Perhaps the most heartbreaking affliction is also one that's difficult to pin down.
There's nothing unusual about growing old. But it is unusual when our faithful dog goes to stand in front of the linen closet to be let outside, rather than the back door. When our beloved pets start exhibiting behavior that is eccentric or confusing, it could be a sign of senility. Senility is a growing problem in domestic pets, said Dr. Matt Fraker of the Prairie Oak Veterinary Center, because through better health care, our pets are living longer.
"We're seeing some animals with significant intelligence and cognitive ability get into some older years. And it's just inevitable that if nothing else breaks down on them, eventually we may see some stuff in their brain break down."
There has been some research into preventative measures, noted Fraker. "A lot of things dietary. When we tell you to put your pet on a diet of high quality fatty acids when they're three years old, that's why. There isn't fixing it once it starts. Dietary therapy won't impact the process once it starts. A natural, anti-inflammatory diet helps the brain stay as healthy as possible."
The signs of senility can be subtle at first and sometimes can be mistaken for other health problems, such as a stroke event. If your pet seems confused, loses elimination control or gets snappish for no apparent reason, take the animal to the vet for a thorough examination. While senility can't be cured, you can try to enjoy the time you have left with your pet.