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Impact of brain aging on dogs

It's important to remember that aging is a natural part of your dog's life. And as your dog ages, he may begin to act differently. Aging takes a toll on a dog's entire body, including his brain. This may lead to behavioral changes.

Check the signs that affect your dog and discuss them with your veterinarian.

  • House-soiling accidents
  • No longer "asks" to go outside
  • Doesn't greet family members
  • Does not want attention/petting
  • Does not recognize familiar people or places
  • Does not respond to verbal cues
  • Sleeps more during the day or less at night
  • Appears lost or confused in the house or yard
  • Wanders or paces
  • Stares into space or at walls

CAUSE OF BRAIN AGING

Why is the Brain Susceptible?

  • High lipid content, a prime target for free radicals
  • High demand for oxygen
  • Limited antioxidant defense and repair capabilities

Nervous System tissue is especially vulnerable to attack by free radicals.

Healthy brain Damaged brain

MRI scans show loss of brain tissue in affected dogs.
MRI scans are not harmful to dogs.

The Effects of Brain Aging

  • Neuronal loss and brain atrophy
  • Increased B-amyloid deposition (toxicity levels increase)
  • Increased free radical production

In recent years, scientists have made great strides in understanding the aging process. Today, many experts agree that aging is primarily caused by unstable oxygen molecules called free radicals.

Older, Compromised Mitochondria Produce Less Energy and More Highly Toxic Free Radicals

  • Mitochondria are a source of energy production within cells, but also produce highly toxic free radicals as a by-product
  • As the brain ages, mitochondria produce an ever-increasing number of free radicals
  • Damage caused by free radicals leads to reduced brain function and possible behavioral changes
Healthy mitochondrian Damaged mitochondrian

The aging process attacks every body system and organ in the dog, including the brain. The result is a loss of brain function, and often, the appearance of behavioral changes that were not present in the dog’s younger years.

The behavior signs of brain aging recognized by veterinarians are: disorientation, interaction changes, sleep or activity changes, and forgotten housetraining.

Ask your veterinarian if these signs could indicate brain aging. To keep your dog acting young and healthy, proper nutrition is important. As your dog ages, continue to feed him foods rich in antioxidants and essential nutrients to keep him active and alert.

Below is a list of common behavioral changes in older dogs. Check the signs that affect your dog and discuss them with your veterinarian

BEHAVIORAL CHECKLIST

Have you noticed these signs in your dog?

For an accurate diagnosis and treatment options, always consult your veterinarian.

Behavioral checklist