Growing old with Ruskin

Ruskin is a fourteen year old Chihuahua who is one of our long term patients at Manningham Vet Clinic. Earlier this year when Ruskin was having a routine check up with Dr Ele Hunt his owner mentioned that he had not been acting quite himself lately. He was not interacting with his owners or the other dogs in the family, and had been slowing down and seemed to be less aware of his surroundings. Dr Ele gave him a thorough examination and did not find anything wrong.

A blood sample was taken from Ruskin to run a health check for any underlying problems such as liver disease, kidney disease and diabetes. The blood test results did not show anything abnormal so Dr Ele thought that the cause of his changed behaviour could be due to a condition called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD). CCD is similar in dogs to the changes that occur in humans with Alzheimers disease. We think these changes occur as the brain ages and cells in the brain are damaged by free radicals. Free radicals are produced by the body's own metabolism as well as by environmental pollutants and UV light. We cannot stop free radicals being produced but antioxidant vitamins and minerals can limit the damage they cause.

Dr Ele suggested to Ruskin's owner to start him on a prescription diet called Hills B/D which is a diet specifically developed to contain high levels of antioxidants that help protect brain cells from free radicals, and added fish oils to help support the brain as it ages.

Ruskin has been eating the Hills B/D food for several months now and his owner has noticed an improvement in his alertness. He is much more interactive with his owners and the other dogs he lives with and is generally happier and brighter.

The signs that we can be on the look out for in our dogs as they age which may be early signs of CCD are disorientation, interacting less with the family, having a disturbed sleep pattern and loss of house training. The earlier we can pick up on signs of brain ageing the more difference we can make with diets like the Hills B/D and medication. Here at Manningham Vet Clinic we are trying to be very proactive in picking up early signs of CCD and we have a senior dog questionnaire that we will ask you to fill out when you come in with your pet.

If you have any concerns about your senior pet please do not hesitate to give us a call to talk about it or make an appointment for a senior health check for your dog or cat.