Q: My sweet dog and best friend, Isaac, was diagnosed with cognitive dysfunction syndrome. I watched your video on CDS and it meant so much! Isaac is a 15-year-old kooikerhondje. I am heartbroken. His symptoms are barking, confusion, losing control of bowel movements and pacing at night. He has lost his hearing and is having eyesight problems. My veterinarian prescribed acepromazine, Xanax and Prozac, and he has been on tramadol for pain. In your video, you mentioned Purina Neuro Care diet, fish oil, SAMe and melatonin (for restlessness at night). Can these supplements be added to the current medications? I walk Isaac at least 2 times a day. We play and he loves his food puzzles.
Dr. Nichol: Isaac is mighty special to you. I’m that way with my dog. They are a part of us, which makes their aging really hard. There are more ways to help good Isaac.
A supplement called Senilife contains antioxidants that will protect the remaining nerve cells in Isaac’s brain. Adding Theracurmin (curcumin) can increase memory in canine seniors. SAMe (S-adenosyl-methionine) is a supplement that improves brain function. A veterinary brand called Denosyl is well-absorbed in dogs.
Anxiety is a common challenge for dogs with CDS. A longer-acting anti-anxiety medication called clonazepam would be safer and more effective for Isaac than acepromazine, Prozac or Xanax.
Tramadol, on the other hand, has come under recent scrutiny. We have learned that it may not be an effective pain reliever for dogs, after all. And it can interact badly with SAMe. Gabapentin is safer and may be an effective alternative for Isaac.
CDS is a lot like Alzheimer’s in humans. We can help many affected dogs feel better, but this is a degenerative disease that is ultimately fatal. You are already improving Isaac’s wellbeing, and boosting his ability to think and make choices (cognitive function) by sharing a couple of brisk daily walks with him. Food puzzles have also been shown to improve mental function in senior dogs. Isaac’s treatment could be custom-tailored by a veterinary behavior specialist.
• For help with behavior problems, you can sign up for a Zoom group conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.
Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in person and in groups via Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week, he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.