When I was young the term “sundowner’s syndrome” in dogs wasn’t a thing. A lot has changed since then. Dogs in my neighborhood were working dogs designed to herd sheep or protect livestock. Yes, people had dogs as pets, but they were always working dogs first and companions second. I don’t think the words “disposable income” passed anybody’s lips back then, and we certainly didn’t shower our dogs with special treats. I wish we had!
Today, people (myself included) welcome dogs into our lives for the long-haul. They are not euthanized because they can’t do the work anymore. Instead, we search high and low for the right combination of food, exercise, and well-being to keep our dogs happy straight into their senior years.
Senior dogs, like people, develop cognitive dysfunction as they age. The symptoms of CDS (cognitive dysfunction syndrome) can include confusion, disorientation, and the inability to make sense of familiar surroundings. People have reported episodes of Sundowner’s Syndrome where the dog whines and cries all night, pants heavily and paces the floors, remains restless and spend the night poking his/her owners.
— FitzpatrickReferrals (@fitzpatrickref) June 9, 2018
I’ve always been a little skeptical about dog food claims. All Natural! Grain free! Non GMO! Organic! With so many people getting into the dog food and nutrition game, who do you trust? I’m going to help you figure this out while explaining how “super foods” like antioxidants have shown promise in slowing cognitive decline in dogs.
The #1 Brain Protective Blend of Food for Sundowner’s Syndrome in Dogs
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition (volume 119, issue 3, pp 349-358) shows how administration of super foods can improve cognition in senior dogs.
A controlled study of 147 dogs between the ages of 9 and 11 years old were divided into groups. One group received a diet of nutrient dense food containing antioxidants, B Vitamins, fish oil, and L-arginine. (an amino acid). Before the study began, each dog was assessed for baseline cognition.
The study continued for six months, and at the end of that period it was determined that the group of dogs who’d been fed the nutrient dense diet had significantly improved cognitive ability.
There is no cure for dementia in dogs, but there’s no question that this particular blend of antioxidants and vitamins aided the dogs in a meaningful way.
Signs of Sundowner’s Syndrome in Dogs
If we lived in a perfect world my dogs would not get old, and neither would I. The reality is, we’re all aging day by day, including our dogs. I have two dogs aged 6 1/2 years old and 7 years old. So far, they are both healthy and dementia free.
The following tweet is sad but touching. Watching our dogs age and succumb to disease is not an easy thing to do gracefully.
Dakota, our 14+-year-old Portuguese Water Dog. Several months ago she was diagnosed with dementia w/ Sundowner's Syndrome, which resulted in her crying for hours when the sunset. Our fabulous vet prescribed medication that kept her alive thru Christmas. Today, we said goodbye. pic.twitter.com/KMBDqvkKve
— Tee Quake (@Tee_Quake) December 28, 2017
I have a 17-year-old cat, however, who often finds himself staring at walls or getting lost in the house. Sundowner’s Syndrome is a term used to describe a specific behavior demonstrated in people with Alzheimers who become restless and belligerent in the evening.
Sundowner’s Syndrome in dogs is very similar, except it involves the dog panting and pacing the floor all night. He/she might howl, bark, or whine. You might get nudged in the night by your restless, confused dog. Suddenly, your dog might appear to be acting out by voiding on the floor or becoming aggressive after a lifetime of calmness. Anxiety is also a common sign of dementia (cognitive dysfunction syndrome) in dogs.
Hard to Diagnose – Safe to Treat
If you present to your veterinarian questions about sundowner’s syndrome in dogs, specifically the symptoms your dog has been showing, he or she will want to rule out all other probabilities first.
Sundowner’s syndrome in dogs is not a diagnosis, but a descriptive way to describe a set of new behaviors that occur at the same time every evening. Dogs who truly have sundowner’s syndrome will have a diagnosis of Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. You or I might call it dementia or Alzheimer’s as a way of signifying unusual brain function.
The Symptoms of Sundowner’s Syndrome in Dogs Can Signal Other Causes Including:
ANXIETY: The veterinarian will attempt to determine how long your dog has suffered with anxiety. If anxiety has always been present, or has been present throughout the dog’s adult years, the veterinarian may not feel the symptom is warranted a diagnosis of dementia.
FEARS: Has your dog always been afraid of thunderstorms and fireworks, or did this develop along with the passing years? Again, if your dog has always had these fears, it could be that they are more pronounced in the dog’s senior years. It doesn’t mean your dog has Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.
VOIDING IN THE HOUSE: Your dog was probably house trained as a puppy and, up to recently, you had no problems. Now, suddenly, your dog is peeing and defecating in the house on a regular basis.
Dogs, like us, can have bladder incontinence, bladder or kidney infections, cancer, kidney, or liver disease. It’s always been my feeling that if a dog or cat suddenly voids in the house after years of being house trained, it’s a sign of something gone wrong.
The Brain Protection Blend Starts Now
All Dogs Can be Given the Brain Protection Blend of food from a young age. Why wait until dementia is already settling in? This isn’t old-times anymore. We’re smart and we want to know what’s in the dog food. No fillers, grains, GMO’s, mystery meats, or artificial coloring’s please.
People want quality dog foods that are relatively inexpensive and easy to buy. The pet food industry is listening and, as a result, is releasing new brands formulated with antioxidants and free from additives and fillers.
These days, it’s easy to get the low-down on a company to find out if what they are saying is true. We’re smart. Splashing the word ORGANIC or ALL NATURAL across a package doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Show us the ingredients.
Ask your veterinarian for a nutrient dense food for your dog, or research some of the online dog foods for sale. And remember….you don’t have to wait until you see sundowner’s syndrome in dogs. Start right now!
Thank you for reading this post. I hope you were able to get useful information from the piece. Please tweet and share.
Lisa is dedicated to writing a high-quality blog based on professionally researched data. Her time is spent writing and researching balanced with enjoying family life with her husband and two dogs.
Lisa’s writing skills emerged at an early age. Over time, her fiction has been published in various literary magazines. She has also written for non-fiction journals internationally.
Dogs are Lisa’s passion, and blogging is the means to direct her energy towards their well-being on a global scale.
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