What is Canine Cognitive Dysfunction?

We will be discussing what Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) is, its cause, symptoms, and treatment.


Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) is a brain disease typically seen in older dogs. This disease is commonly known as ''doggie dementia'' as the disease shares many of its symptoms with human dementia. The brain deteriorates causing its cells to die. This then impacts how the brain works and functions. Research suggests that one in three dogs over the age of 11 show at least one symptom of CCD, and by the age of 16, nearly all dogs display at least one sign of CCD.


Symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction symptoms usually appear slowly and increase and worsen over time. This is known as Cognitive Decline. Here is a list of common symptoms of CCD:

  • Disorientation

  • Confusion

  • Anxiety

  • Restlessness

  • Increased irritability

  • Decreased desire to play

  • Excessive licking

  • Seems to disregard previously learned training or house rules

  • Slow to learn new tasks

  • Inability to follow familiar routes

  • Excessive barking

  • Lack of self-grooming

  • Fecal and urinary incontinence (accidents indoors)

  • Loss of appetite (anorexia)

  • Changes in sleep cycle (night waking, sleeping during the day)



Causes of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Unfortunately, like human dementia we do not know an exact cause of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. We do know it is caused by the aging of the brain and deterioration of the cells and structures within the brain. As scientists learn more about human dementia, they are able to try and apply this to our pet's struggles with CCD.


Treatment of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

If you suspect that your dog has CCD, you will need to make an appointment with your local veterinarian. Your veterinarian will then probably do a full physical health check and ask for what symptoms you have been noticing. If you have been able to make notes of dates and times of these symptoms, this will help them even more. Your vet may also do a blood test, ultrasound and X-ray to rule out any other health problems.


Treatment of CCD is lifelong. There is no cure, but there are some things you can do for your dog to keep them happy and comfortable. Some vets may prescribe medication to help your dog cope with their symptoms. Having a routine with play included will keep your dog engaged and help them with their cognitive function.



In the home, you may need to make some changes to help keep your pooch more comfortable. These changes can also keep them stimulated and enriched.



Puppy Pads- With dogs suffering with incontinence (having accidents indoors) they may need pads in case they cannot hold it until you come home or wake up in the morning.


Night Light- This will be useful if your dog is getting up in the night and walking around. It will allow them to see where they are going.


Brain Games- This could be a food puzzle or toy puzzle. It will keep your dog on their toes and help them keep their mind going by solving short games that are fun.


Training- Whether its new tricks or old, training is a great way to keep your dog active and keep that brain engaged.


Foam Bed- Some dogs with CCD have trouble sleeping. A foam bed will offer relaxation and keep them comfortable.


It is very important to monitor your dog’s overall and cognitive health and work with your veterinarian to track your dog’s quality of life. Not only is it responsible pet ownership, but this will also help you determine when your dog is letting you know it’s time.




We hope you have found this information useful and informative. We have many blogs covering various species and topics. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram!


If you see any changes in your senior dog, it’s important to talk to your veterinarian at the first sign to get them the help they may need. This article in not intended to diagnose or treat your dog. If you have any doubts in your pet's health, you must seek the medical advise of a veterinarian.

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