Dog Aging Study Reveals Risk Factors for Cognitive Decline in Dogs

Like humans, aging dogs commonly experience cognitive decline and memory loss. However, in more severe cases, they may develop a condition known as canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD). CCD is characterized by symptoms such as disrupted sleeping patterns, loss of spatial awareness, and changes in social behavior.

Dog Aging Study Reveals Risk Factors for Cognitive Decline in Dogs

A study published in Scientific Reports, led by Sarah Yarborough, sheds light on the risk factors associated with CCD. The research indicates that when comparing two dogs with similar factors such as sterilization status, health problems, breed type, and activity level, the risk of CCD is 52 percent higher in the dog that is one year older than its younger counterpart.

Dog Aging Study Reveals Risk Factors for Cognitive Decline in Dogs

The study also found a correlation between inactivity and CCD. Dogs described as inactive by their owners were nearly 6.5 times more likely to suffer from CCD. However, it is important to note that this correlation does not establish causation. Further research is needed to determine whether inactivity contributes to CCD or if CCD itself leads to decreased activity.

The Dog Aging Project, a study conducted in 2020 and published in Scientific Reports, involved over 15,000 dog owners who completed surveys about their dogs' health and cognitive status. The results revealed that age alone increased a dog's odds of developing CCD by 68% for each year after reaching a decade of life. However, when considering factors such as breed, health issues, sterilization, and physical activity, the risk decreased to 52% per additional year of life.

Inactive dogs of the same breed, health status, age, and sterilization status were nearly seven times more likely to develop canine dementia compared to their active counterparts. The causal relationship between inactivity and dementia remains unclear and requires further investigation.

Additionally, the study found that dogs with a history of neurological, eye, or ear disorders had a higher risk of cognitive decline.

On a positive note, the study revealed minimal cognitive decline in dog below the age of 10.

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