We want to keep our furry feline friends happy and healthy well into the later years of their lives. As pets age, the chances of them suffering from impaired mental function can be detrimental to their quality of life. However, despite the increased likelihood of cognitive dysfunction as they age, careful monitoring, early diagnosis, and proper intervention, you can keep your senior pet’s mind sharp well into their golden years. Here’s how to recognize the following signs of cognitive dysfunction in your pet:
- Disorientation — Your pet may get stuck behind furniture or doors, have difficulty getting around objects, fail to recognize familiar people or pets, or get lost in your home or yard.
- Sleep-wake cycles — One of the most common complaints of cognitive dysfunction is an off-balance sleep-wake cycle. These pets are typically restless, will pace or continually wake up, and may excessively vocalize throughout the night.
- Interaction — Your pet may display a decreased interest in socializing and interacting with your family and become irritable or aggressive with visitors, other animals, or familiar family members.
- Activity — One change in pets that is commonly confused as an old-age problem is a decreased desire to play or exercise. Pets may also display repetitive behaviors, such as circling, chewing, licking, or pacing.
- Anxiety — Pets with cognitive dysfunction may exhibit increased anxiety when separated from their owners and be more fearful of visual or auditory stimuli.
- House-soiling, learning, and memory — Your pet may be less likely to respond to previously learned commands or their name and suffer from decreased focus and increased distraction. You may also notice inappropriate elimination issues if your pet forgets their previous house training.
Commonly referred to as DISHAA, this acronym of cognitive dysfunction signs will help you spot changes in your pet sooner, allowing for more effective treatment.
Your furry kitty companion’s health and well-being are our top priority. As they age, they may need more delicate care and attention. If you see any of these signs, schedule a behavioral assessment to see if your pet has developed cognitive dysfunction.