CCD - Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
A cause of unsocial or disruptive behaviour in dogs
With better nutrition and more advanced veterinary care, our
dogs are generally healthier and living longer.
Coupled with the fact that many households regard companion dogs as
part of the family, most dogs are enjoying healthy, meaningful lives interacting with the human
As a dog gets older, some changes are inevitable -- a few more gray hairs, slower gait, perhaps more finicky or more reluctant to have the routine changed.
Some changes, however, are written off as 'normal for old age' when they may be signs of something known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.
This is a series of geriatric behavioral problems, not explained by other medical conditions.
For instance, have you noticed any of these typical 'old age' behaviors:
General confusion - indecision when taking familiar
routes or carrying our familiar routines?
familiar activities - Staring uncertainly at a ball it
would normally chase or forgetting routines?
Inappropriate barking - in the middle of the night
or without any apparent cause?
Disrupted sleep pattern - sleeping all day, awake all night?
Disorientation - not recognising people or places?
Personality changes - a friendly or outgoing pet becoming timid or aggressive?
Incontinence - loss of house training, forgetting
to toilet outside and doing it indoors instead?
What is CCD?
CCD is a pathological change in the dogs brain that
slows mental functioning.
It normally occurs in
older dogs but can be brought on in dogs of any age as a
result of a major trauma caused by an accident or acute
internal brain malfunction. Generally speaking the cause of
CCD is idiopathic because the initial signs are so subtle
they go unnoticed. In some instances is could be hereditory.
The signs are loss of memory, damage to motor neurons
causing problems with movement and co-ordination and loss of
ability to remember how to perform normal everyday task and
training. Long term memory is disrupted.
This is a result of an increase of a protein,
beta-amyloid, in the brain creating protein deposits known
Nerve cells are killed off and the resulting
space filled by cerebrospinal fluid.
Cognition is the mental ability
to acquire knowledge and understanding through thought,
experience and our senses.
As we age our cognitive ability to function normally
decreases. It's the same with dogs.
This is a perfectly normal part of aging but in some cases
there is a greater degeneration of our mental capacity than
average. In humans we call this senility or dementia and in dogs this condition is called Canine
It can be a gradual creeping
senility or a sudden and acute loss of cognitive abilities.
It can progress to a certain stage and get no worse or it
could degenerate into dementia.
Cognitive dysfunction is a reduction in the mental ability
of an individual beyond what is expected for that age.
Like senility or dementia, the dog will begin to loose its
ability to function normally, but faster than would be
normal for a dog of its age. As a dog gets older the chances
of the condition developing increases.
Initially the symptoms may be very subtle and could easily
be overlooked if they develop slowly and the dogs behaviour
changes very gradually. Small changes in something we see
everyday often go unnoticed.
Sometimes this condition
starts as the result of a mini stroke. It may happen at
night and go unnoticed other than signs of disorientation because the dog recovers before
anyone gets up.
It could start as a vestibular condition, manifesting itself as a loss of balance
and unsteady gait with the dog holding its head on one side and trembling involuntarily.
Treating CCD requires mental and behavioural support along with drugs and nutritional supplements.
Selegiline Hydrochloride is the only licensed drug available
for treatment of CCD. It can be prescribed in many countries
including the UK and USA where it is available in branded
and generic products.
If you suspect your dog may be suffering from CCD or in the
early onset stage of the condition, the first thing you
should do is to take it to the vet for a health check to rule out any physical or medical problems that
may be causing the behavior.
If your pet has a clean bill of health, you may want to
speak to your veterinarian about a medication containing the
Selegiline. This drug has been proven to help animals with cognitive dysfunction.
A number of products are available on veterinary
prescription for Selegiline hydrochloride (also known as L-deprenyl).
It is used in humans for treatment of Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, and Cushing's Disease.
In the USA the drug is approved by the FDA for use in dogs for treatment of Pituitary Dependent
Hypoadrenocorticism (PDH) also known as
Cushing's Disease and
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.
For cognitive dysfunction, some owners have reported near-miraculous changes in their geriatric dog's behavior after starting
on Selegiline others have not seen such dramatic changes.
Possible side effects of this drug include (but aren't
limited to): vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactive/restless,
anorexia, staggering, seizure, lethargy.
New evidence, similar to findings in humans, suggests that
antioxidants in the diet may promote cognitive health and
slow the process of decline.
If you are interested in adopting a Border Collie from us,
please phone 0845 604 4941 during office hours.
(2 pm to 5 pm Tuesdays to Thursdays)
Please do not write to us or email us about adoption - we want to speak to you before we start the process.