Geriatric DogsCanine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS), also known as dog dementia, is a growing problem and definitely present in Bay Area pets. “I have diagnosed several patients with this condition even within the last few weeks,” says Dr. Vivian Lau, a board-certified neurologist at SAGE Redwood City. This is a condition of geriatric dogs and is primarily age-related; no other factors have yet been proven to cause CDS.

Diagnosing CDS 

Unfortunately, many of the symptoms for CDS are also symptoms of problems affecting the forebrain including strokes, tumors, and inflammatory conditions. Some online sources, like this Dogster story, suggest watching for behavioral changes, such as disorientation or reduced interaction. Before the diagnosis of CDS can be made, it is important to have your veterinarian perform a thorough physical exam and blood and urine tests to rule out systemic illnesses that can affect behavior and brain function. Unfortunately, there are no lab tests to diagnose CDS at this time, but it is important to make sure there is not another health issue causing your pets symptoms that requires treatment.

Can MRI help?

In many cases of CDS, characteristic changes of the brain (primarily decreased size of specific brain structures) can be noted on MRI. An MRI of the brain and cerebrospinal fluid analysis are also helpful tools to help rule out other serious neurologic conditions that require more specific treatments.

Researching supplement options

Supplements have emerged as an option for helping to keep dementia symptoms at bay. But, while supplements can help with certain neurologic conditions, owners should be aware that many supplements are not FDA-regulated and may not contain the levels of ingredients they boast—or any levels of active ingredients at all.

For more information about supplements, check the FDA’s website. They have an FAQ with tips for finding more information about what is in dietary supplements: https://www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/UsingDietarySupplements/ucm480069.htm#where_info