By Jan Hoffman, Aug. 25, 2022 | Jan Hoffman, who writes about behavioral health in humans and canines, is owned by two Havanese, ages 5 and 9.
THE NEW YORK TIMES – Around the time Dante turned 8, he started to seem a little off.
The 70-pound Bernese mountain dog would pace his family’s home in Interlaken, N.Y., like a caged bear.
Then he might stand stock still, staring trance-like at the pedals of the family’s organ. Or at a corner of a room. In the middle of the night, he would wake up and begin barking incessantly, for no obvious reason.
Then the indoor incontinence began. A brain scan confirmed that Dante had canine cognitive dysfunction, colloquially known as doggy dementia. It is often described as the dog’s analog to Alzheimer’s disease.
Some studies have found it can occur in at least 14 to 35 percent of older dogs. But because the symptoms resemble those in other diseases, its true prevalence is difficult to confirm.
A large new study of 15,019 dogs enrolled in the Dog Aging Project, an ongoing investigation into canine illness and aging, published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, identifies the top factors associated with a dog’s risk of getting the disease.
A key finding: Exercise may play a significant preventive role. The odds of a cognitive dysfunction diagnosis were 6.47 times higher in dogs reported as not active compared with those reported to be very active, researchers at the University of Washington found.
But they also said that the disease itself could lead to lack of exercise, emphasizing that the study results, which are based on observations by owners, suggest correlation, not causation.
Odds of getting the disease also appear to increase in dogs that have neurological disorders, or impaired hearing or sight …