Canine Cognitive Dysfunction


The treatment of canine cognitive dysfunction is multimodal. It can slow the progress of the disease and improve the quality of life of the dog and the family. Because there is no cure, prevention is key.

1- Food Supplements

Feeding a healthy balanced diet is important. But some specific food supplements given daily can make a difference especially as prevention or in the early phase of the disease.

a. DHA
• DHA is critical for proper brain function especially in older dogs.
• DHA must be provided as high quality food supplements (
• The major sources are fish oil, krill oil and algal oil. Algal oil is the safest and most environmentally responsible source (
• The effective dose is 8 to 10 mg/kg/day in dogs from the age of 8 to 10 through the remainder of their life.

b. Anti-oxidants
The major food supplements used as antioxidants in human and veterinary medicine are:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • α-Lipoic acid
  • N-acetylcysteine
  • Carnitine
  • Selenium

  • Poliphenols and flavonoids (resveratrol from grape, catechin from tea, quercetin, curcumin from turmeric...)
  • Proanthocyanidins from berries
  • Carotenoids (β-carotene, lycopene, lutein...)

  • Polyphenols can prevent injury caused by free radicals generated by oxidative stress. However the bioavailability of many polyphenols is erratic and poor due to limited gastrointestinal absorption. It is therefore critical to ensure that the antioxidants are absorbed before using them. New formulations like those using phospholipids and curcumin (15 mg/kg/day) or some new plant extracts like sea buckthorn are promising.

    c. Other plant extracts
    Ginko biloba: doses of 2 to 4 mg/kg/day are recommended.

    2- Stimulation of mental and physical activities

    • Mental stimulation in the early stage of the disease is important to delay the clinical progression. The owner should play games, give toys, provide a level of exercise suitable to the dog's age and continue training activities.


    • There should be no verbal or physical punishment for undesirable behavior that occurs as a result of the condition. Positive reinforcement should be used instead by rewarding normal behavior such as elimination outside. If loss of housetraining occurs the owners should ensure that the dog is taken out frequently.
    • Re-establishment of regular daily cycle should be encouraged; for example, by feeding the dog at regular hours and at least several hours before bedtime.
    • The dog should be protected from accidents like falling down the stairs or going out into the street. The owner should avoid making major changes in the pet's home (house renovation, rearranging the furniture).

    3- Medications

    The monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOB) selegeline (Anipryl® Pfizer) is the only drug licensed in the USA for the treatment of CCD. Your veterinarian is the best qualified to determine if this product will be good for your dog. All of these measures will help the dog and the owner maintain a good quality of life and preserve the human-pet bond.

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