What is CCD?

dr-fanucchi-with-corgisDogs get dementia? Yes, they do…

By Susan and Michael Cain

Our boy Mic's symptoms were so subtle and their onset so gradual we didn't initially see them. In fact, our other dogs noticed them first.  

Mic, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi then 12, had always embodied good 'dog manners.' He'd never met a dog who didn't like him. Suddenly, he was enraging his pack-mates. We sympathized: his nighttime barking was fraying our nerves.

A number of vet visits and lab tests revealed nothing, and Mic continued to decline. But when his spatial perception deteriorated, we realized he was acting like some elderly people and concluded, almost tongue-in-cheek, he had 'doggy dementia.'

Turns out we were right. Though many veterinarians and dog owners are unaware of it, canine cognitive dysfunction, or CCD, affects a significant portion of the senior dog population. While CCD has become more apparent as dogs live longer thanks to advances in veterinary medicine and improved owner care, as many as 85% of cases are undiagnosed.

"It’s a big issue, and there's not much awareness of it, even among vets," said Leticia Fanucchi, DVM, PhD, director of Veterinary Medicine Behavioral Services at Washington State University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital. "I get that question - 'Dogs get dementia?' - even from colleagues." But CCD is nothing new.

"I first started recognizing symptoms of what we now refer to as 'cognitive dysfunction' in dogs over 30 years ago," said Dennis Thomas, DVM, a holistic practitioner in Spokane, Wash., and author of Whole-Pet Healing. "We didn't have a catchy term for the disease so I called it 'pre-senility syndrome.'"


Washington State University